Re: ntl: which is the better composition?
If the story is about the humans, and not the trees, then the human shapes should predominate. They do not do that in sketches 1 and 2.
For a "tense, frightening" emotion, the colors, values and edge conditions will need to be those which convey those emotions. And the facial expressions and postures of the figures will need to convey those emotions.
Don't space all the figures and foreground trees equi-distant apart as in the third sketch.