Dragon Lady WIP

I had the opportunity to take a pencil sketch I had done awhile back, and import it into Procreate.app on my iPad Pro to see about blowing it out, as it were.  For what it is worth, I used a reference photo from Google for the woman to the left, albeit I cannot find it anymore.  And I used no reference for the dragon on the right.  One of the bigger challenges for me was trying to get the dragon to feel real, as it were.  Or real enough given I basically have the dragon flowing from her hair.

The following set of images shows the progression over the course of a few days, from the first roughs of the block to increasing degrees of rendering, with almost all the focus on the dragon.

Note, the following are the images I posted on my Instagram account.  I opted to knock back all the color that the filters added just to make the images more easily comparable from the perspective of values.

I have a video of the whole process that I will post later, once I have an opportunity to edit the raw footage to make it a bit more bite-sized.  Below is a slideshow of the progression, with each version further shown with additional notes. I hope you enjoy!

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v01 :: At this point, I have just roughed in the dragon after getting much of the woman’s values rendered.
v02 :: At this pass, I was pretty satisfied in a cursory kind of way with the entire picture. At this point, I started to even explore color. But the more I looked at it, the more I found issues I wanted to address. So I got rid of all the color exploration, and got back to the basics.
v03 :: For a lack of a better word, the dragon feels flat to me. While there is variation in highlights and shadow, it really does not read well. Additionally, I decided to address a long standing issue with the woman which is overly small ears. Given the theme is fantastical in nature, I opted to make her an elf. I added tattoos to her forehead for added variety … and who does not like tattoos?
v04 :: I really, really thought I was done with the previous update. But the more I looked at the dragon, the less satisfied I was with it. Again, it just did not feel like it was realistically rendered. So I spent some time flipping through images of crocodiles to get some inspiration around skin texture. And I continued to make cranial features that I thought were minimally interesting, if not realistic’ish.
v05 :: At this phase I feel like the dragon has a bit more cranial structure by better application of highlights and shadows, but now my focus is on how the woman’s hair fades to the lower right. I sort of stumbled upon adding “glowing dots” behind the dragon and over the hair, along with rim lighting to help the dragon feel like it is coming toward the viewer. A happy accident is since I opted to do the dragon in a different layer along with the woman’s ear, when I went to organize my layers I was able to move the dragon’s neck flair to move over the ear, added some additional depth.
v06 :: In this latest version, I will admit that I’m starting to struggle to make major adjustments. The two major areas, if I may call them that, include adding details to the dragon talons on her forehead, along with extending the dragon’s neck guard to extend out past the woman’s hair to make these two elements (woman and dragon) feel a bit more distinct while adding a bit more sense of depth.

Author: Ward

I’m the creator and operator of this little corner of the internets, writing on all things related to art and more specifically my experiences trying to figure this whole thing out. I guess I’m trying to figure out life, too, but mostly I just post about art here.

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