Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Elegant Coral Wasp Dragon

Last Friday on my Twitch Stream, we did the #DiscoveringDragons Community-Draw-Along! It's a fun event where I welcome all skill levels to push their pencils (or whatever tools they use to make art).

I worked on my piece live on my Twitch stream while viewers worked at home and then on Monday we shared our finished pieces.

Here is my finished colored Dragon. And below are my steps to create it as well as the community submissions.

For #DiscoveringDragons, I post two or three prompt words for everyone to make into a dragon. It's a nice framework for artists of any skill level to focus some time on an 'assignment' to shake the rust off or get the pencil moving again––all while also being loose enough that there's plenty of room for individual expression and interpretation.

This month the prompt was three words: Elegant, Coral, & Wasp

I opened several tabs of google image searches of wasps, wasp wings, coral, and 'elegant dragon' (where I found inspiration for the overall pose.

I wanted my dragon to be more of a dragon-form with wasp traits than a wasp with some dragony expressions. So I sketched out the overall form of the pose before starting to make the head and body sections wasp-like and the underbelly with the texture of brain coral (something I'd push more in the inks). I scanned the pencil rough (on copy paper) into Photoshop to paint in the forms to see the overall mass better.

The worry about incorporating 'Elegant' was something I thought the crossed front paws would solve, but it didn't––and perhaps only the long neck, non-aggressive expression, and the lightness of the wings (where I photoshopped wasp wings in the pattern of feathers) saved me and made it more elegant than I'd planned. 

I printed out the above design and taped that onto the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series bristol. Using a lightpad, I was able to see through the surface of the bristol as I inked the dragon. I used Copic Multiliner 0.7 and 0.5 SP pen to ink the art.

The inking on this piece was about varying the line weight on the scaley bits and the wings (more dense in the corners and then thinner in the middle) and to tackle the brain coral texture without overwhelming the inks with too much black––luckily the black wasp markings helped weigh down other areas so the coral bits never seemed too dark. I was unable to finish the inks on-stream, but returned to them after signing off and having some dinner.

When the inks were finished, I scanned them and established color holds (areas where I want the inks to be a color other than black––like the coral texture, the wing outlines, and the interior wing pattern).

Then it was time to start the color flatting process––basically professional coloring-in-the-lines. Some of this is just to make it easy to re-isolate various parts when doing later painting & rendering. So, I established the main yellow color, a coral color for the coral underbelly, a darker color for any of the uninked areas near the black markings as well as the paws and ends of the antennae, and a lighter tone for the wings. 

For the final colors I did most of the highlights, shading, and texture with the dodge and burn tools and a stock photoshop texture brush. I also painted in a bit of a silhouette of the dragon's body where the wings overlaped it to give them a sense of some transparency. Below you can again see the final Dragon...

But, as this is a community event, I wanted to share all the other entries posted in the Discord. 

88 Uncle Ernie


Jonathan Towry

Nate Pride




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