Dragon: Li-zard

My usual dragon tendency is to draw elegant, flowing forms that are clearly physically coordinated and adept, more cat than alligator. For this one I wanted something a little more like an 70's style dinosaur reconstruction. A bit more lizard-y, a bit less pretty.

I really like things that are cute for reasons other than Cardinal Cuteness. (Cardinal Cuteness is defined by large eyes, small ineffectual limbs, a large head to body ratio, smallness in general, ect. Basically everything that is hard-wired into humans so that we'll find our own babies cute enough to want to keep them.) I can just imagine this guy very deliberately stomping his way across a sandy basin, with dignified solemnity and a serious frown. Of course he wouldn't notice that his butt waggles as he walks and his tail drags from side to side behind him, leaving an amusing wavy groove in his wake.

Color and...Cuteness?

I liked how it worked out before, so I'm trying it again: It's project time.

Last time, the Wowphabet was a good excuse to practice working at a steady pace. (Actually, I do naturally draw at a fairly steady pace. Steady as in constantly. But drawing random stuff all the time is very different than drawing themed, stylistically consistent art every day for a month.)

This time, I'm working on using bright colors, and not being so perfectionistic.  Because usually, it goes like this: I'll spend half an hour on what seems like a terribly important transition or shading, and then when I show it to someone I'll flip back and forth between the previous and current versions, rather proud of myself and showing off a little. Then the unbiased third party says 'Wait. What did you do again? I don't see it.'

When I'm being kind to myself, I refer to this as being overly subtle. For me though, 'subtlety' results in a highly detailed, exquisitely shaded grey blob.

So dragons. A dragon a day for...oh, let's say two weeks. Bright, high contrast, and cute. Because I could use a little proof of 'hey, I can do cute!' for portfolio purposes.


I told you I had a basalisk.

Don't be alarmed though. This little guy is a pampered pet. I didn't include any scale in the image, but he's completely tame, and about knee-high. (He does have a tendency to jump up though, particularly if you're holding food. ) In his world, the pseudo-millitary elite have a bad habit of keeping extremely dangerous animals as pets. As this is a feudal society, each of the lords tries to one-up each other at this. Basalisks are the most recent fad.

Pet basilisks can be made 'safe' by attaching a permant hood to the head and covers to the worst of the spines. (The head and back spines are springy, somewhat like pine needles. So long as you rub them the right way, petting a basalisk can actually be sort of pleasant.) These hood and covers are of course opululent, underscoring the wealth of the basalisk's owner. The exact coloring and jewels involved in basalisk covers have historically been used to send political invitations, insults, and other information in a subtle and plausibly deniable manner.

Artistically, this was just fun. I set myself the moderate challenge of drawing a reasonably functional six-legged creature in motion, and I'm really pleased with how that turned out. I particularly like the feet: the one in front reminds me of how small showdogs with overlarge paws will fling the paw out in almost a snap-the-whip motion. Overall, I think I nailed the 'cute but dangerous' vibe. It was also nice to do a piece with lots of scales again. For a few years in highschool, I did at least one fully-scaled dragon a day.


This is Smidgeon. He's a shoulder dragon.

See?  Shoulder dragon.

If you are into details, you probably noticed that Smidgeon looks a bit different between the two drawings. I'm still kicking around exactly what he looks like (Should the spikes go all the way to the end of the tail? Or should it be prehensile?) but I've made some progress in fleshing out the world he lives in.

The text on the reference illustration mentions Common and Noble Dragons. So far, my concept is this: In generic sword and sorcery pre-industrial world X, small dragons are common pets of the elite. (There are other things they keep as pets too... I have a basilisk illustration I'll show you another time.) These dragons are both status symbols and hunting animals, similar to hawks. Although they have to work a small magic in order to fly, that's the limit of their magical skills. These Common Dragons are really just animals, about as smart as a very smart dog.

In X, there's a history of dragon lore and literature that is assumed to be mythological. Stories mention small dragons that could talk, and would intercede with the big dragons on the humans behalf. These little dragons were called Nobles, and the big dragons (your good old proper knight-roasting kind) were called Royals.

At the time my story is set, nobody's seen or heard of a Noble or Royal in a few hundred years. (dun dun DUUUN!) Royals of course, are on the horizon. (I'm thinking a broken treaty...broken when humans forgot about it, 'cause they have this pesky habit of dying every eighty years or so. That makes for a much shorter institutional memory than dragons have. Funny enough, none of the dragons thought of that when the treaty was made in the first place.) It turns out that Noble Dragons are quite alive and well thank you: masquerading as Commons. There are actually small physical differences, but since humans have been breeding Commons selectively for a few generations, domesticated Commons look more like Nobles. My idea is centered on Smidgeon: a moderately valuable hunting Dragon owned my an up-and-coming human aristocrat. Smidgeon of course, is a Noble, and the story begins when a human realizes that.

But this is all background. Maybe later I'll have some actual plot.