Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ice Dragon's Lair

A while back I showed a preview to an image I was working on : click here to see

     While working on this piece, well, any piece really, I have a lot to consider. So I think that it would be nice to share the thought process I go through when I create an image.
     First is the idea stage. Since this was a personal piece and not for a client the concept for this image was "I want to draw a dragon,"  plain and simple. That was the starting point, however after some thought I didn't just want to draw a dragon flying through the sky raining down fire, instead I wanted to make a cave dwelling dragon protecting his treasure.  Dragons and treasure are just a classic combo and a perfect encounter for a unsuspecting group of heroes.

A peek into the treasure room 
       Next is the most important step, the sketch and concept phase.  This step is where I give my idea form and in doing so am able to define the concept and improve upon it.  So I get out my pencils, pens, and tracing paper an will spend hours working.  This where  80% of the work gets done. I spend more time working on sketching then I do once I have it loaded into Photoshop. You can  think of it like a building, the stronger the underline structure, the better the building will stand.  For this image the heroes and the ice dragon took the most work.

      For the heroes I wanted to resemble a typical D&D team, with a variety of races and classes gathered together ready to face a common threat.  The placement of the heroes as well as the heroes themselves went through the most changes before I was happy with them.  First I had a lot of trouble picking out the classes of characters to use in this. I always knew I was going to have a wizard and an archer, but the others where more of a challenge.  

The Five Heroes ready for action

     I tried having more brute characters like a Paladin and a Monk, but it just looked silly having a man in a robe punching a creature 20x its size in the leg.  In the end I think I came up with a team able to take on a dragon.

 The other major change was making this a "before the battle starts" scene so I could have the characters strike epic poses. This also allowed me to show off the main star, The Ice Dragon !!! 

     The dragon, while being a much more important element, was the easiest to do because I had a clear idea of what I wanted him to look like.  I wanted his scales replaced with more of a crystal or ice shards to push the ice look, and once the heroes where decided, his pose came very naturally. Using his tail, he manages to surround the heroes while being a single foe. He prowls, cool headed, with a smile instead of a roar. I have always considered ice a much cooler (no pun intended) element. It calls to mind calmness and silent intelligence. I wanted my ice dragon to capture that.  
  The main element that I changed with the dragon was in his color.

One would assume a "Ice Dragon" would be a shade of blue, and early on in the concept phase he was blue, but having him against his ice lair, he just didn't pop the way I wanted him to. So I decided to play with him and change him to red, and hoping I could still have him fit into the character. I did that through his ice horns and protrusions.  I think in the end it worked just fine and I got the effect I wanted for the overall image.             

Finish image for "Ice Dragon's Lair"

     Those where some of the phases and issues that I had to deal with while making my ice dragon and how I take a simple idea like "I want to make a dragon" and turn it into a finish piece of art work.  In all it went pretty smoothly, and I hope you enjoyed hearing more about what steps I take in my process. Until next time!

Edited by: Mia Rose Cammisa

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