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Dragon in Chains

NOVEMBER 10, 2008
It is one of the great rewards of being an illustrator to be challenged and pushed in new directions. I enjoy taking on projects that give me a chance to do something different- so I was excited to get a call from Dave Stevenson at Random House, asking me if I thought I could paint a dragon.  This particular creature lives chained to the bottom of the sea. Why not?
After drawing some thumbnails, I decided it would be a good idea to build some sort of reference model. This part of the project took on something of a life of it's own...
the beginnings of my reference model dragon, at 2 feet high, already the scale of this thing is getting a little daunting
further work on the reference model, beginning to work over the plasticine with sculpey - just because it seemed like a good idea. It wasn't.
I built this model with plasticine roma and then coated it with a "sculpy" skin.
The finished model...
the first drawing was going in the wrong direction. It looks like a drawing of a sculpture.
After I finished the model I did a drawing based on it. At this point I realized that I was going in a wrong direction. My drawing didn't really have the spirit I was looking for.
getting closer...something about the hands though....
At this point I abandoned the model completely and did a new drawing without it.
a more refined drawing
tail detail
The art director approved the drawing but asked me to chance the position of the hands and to add a tail so that they could sillouette it over a panel for the type.
the painting in progress.
finished art
final cover with the typography.
Working with an art director like Dave is always a pleasure, because he gives you enough direction to steer the project away from pitfalls while giving the artist freedom to solve the problems their own way.