Saturday, 12 October 2013

Building A Dragon

I am The Warden!!

(Apologies in advance for the excessive blank space and image placement in today's post. For some reason, none of the pictures will align left or right, so everything has to go in the centre.)

It's the sixth week of Illustrator class and that means final exam! In the three program-heavy, shortcut-learning courses provided in my Graphic Designer program, the sixth week is the last one set aside for a final practical assignment kept secret until the student successfully completes the previous five weeks.

For my Photoshop assignment, it was the hybrid blending of two real world animals. Remember the owlbear?

My Photoshop final assignment - an owlbear on its way to a forbidden castle,
thinking about all the adventurers its gonna eat. 
(Come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure if I've ever shared this on the blog. If you're not following me on Twitter or anything else, this is my final exam for Photoshop class. An owlbear, merged together from falcons - they have better beaks for a creature this size - and a grizzly bear.)

For Illustrator's final, it's another animal assignment. (I'm starting to think the final for InDesign will be laying out a children's book about a cuddly whiddle animal.) We have to complete a cartoon drawing of an animal standing in front of its home. Because of my previous submissions in this class, it was assumed I was going to do a dragon. Oh, hell yeah, it's going to be a dragon. Originally, this is what I had in mind for my illustration (see below). As a basis, mind you. Because the assignment was about drawing/tracing an animal from photographs and turning it into a cartoon version, I had to keep things on a level playing field. After finding this gorgeous portrait of a fierce green dragon coming out of its mountainside home, The Dragon's Cave by Georg Janny, I knew it had exactly what I wanted. At small sizes, it could actually pass for a wildlife photo of the world's most dangerous predator.

The Dragon's Cave, by Georg Janny
Unfortunately, an outright duplication of an existing piece of copyrighted artwork was not allowed and I was told to adapt this piece by using multiple sources. This was after already setting down the foundation and tracing the key lines from the stone walls as a background layer. The idea of starting over after already using a day to get started was not an option, but I found another dragon to mix things up a bit. This little beauty sits on my desk and was staring me in the face. Literally, in the face. It's to the left of my Mini Mac's monitor, the very one capturing my attention as I read the email about this last minute change to my perfect plan. After a couple of poses and positions for optimal effect (and minimal detail), I settled on the pose you see below. 

One of the coolest dragons in my personal collection
and it was staring me in the face this whole time.
And this is what I came up with so far. 


There's still a lot of work remaining to get some sense of "cartoon" out of this project and the background looks weak, but there are some seriously sweet gradients working on that wing. Over the weekend, I'm going to dabble in it a bit after getting some more writing out of the way (and once again get around to recording my premiere episode for the Critical Ramblings podcast). Any suggestions?