This is awesome. I think they (both versions) both make a point for character and expression. The muted color variation, of course, has a colder feel which rings nearer to most russianesque or similar characters regarding storytelling, but the brighter colors really make the piece pop. I dig the brighter variant. Wicked work man. And great addition with the T.T link!
oh yes, it's really hard to give animal character human expression, especially with realistic style I want to keep their eye they way it is, some animal like goat or amphibians have horizontal eyes so it's hard to tell their expression through the eye, it's kinda of a challenge that you have to pay attention to other part of the body like ear, mouth or head
Your gallery is full of great and amazing work, and like this piece! Seriously, your anthro skill is more advanced than most, probably because you have a great talent for drawing exotic bodies (like your alien galley). I hope you get many more daily deviations in the future.