some thumbnails of my illustrations

some thumbnails of my illustrations
Please click on the links below to view my portfolio ........ Images copyright of Carrie Osborne

Monday, 21 March 2011

Sketchbook mission #3, a day of Dragons...

After many of you left me such nice comments on my sketchbook work, I thought you might like to see a bit more of my process of starting to plan out a painting.
Today I was on a Dragon mission... I've always had a massive mental block on how to tackle Dragons, especially when there are such amazingly good Dragon painters out there... my imagination just throws up the fantastic paintings of others I have seen and admired, Jackie Morris and John Howe being top of the list... and I feel rather daunted to attempt my own.

But I can't shy away from it any longer, one of my stories that needs a dummy book completing has Dragons in it, and there is a painting that needs painting for a good friend who's been having a tough time lately.
I'm doing her a portrait of her boys to cheer her up as a surprise, and the only way that felt right to paint them was with a Dragon. So it seems I have to find my own way to paint one!

Needing a starting point I went back to nature to look at lots of pictures of lizards, and there are some amazing creatures out there that certainly look more fantasy than real... I find good reference images really important when I'm researching a painting... not for copying but for informing, so I know exactly how reptillian scales should look or what a lizard's eye looks like, how the skin folds etc...

There are so many different aspects in which to portray a dragon, but today's needed to be a friendly one... the boys intended for this painting are quite young, aged 3 and 6, so I wanted it to look protective rather than ready to crunch boys bones!
Here's the first very quick, rough grasp of the idea...

Then I thought some more about the composition and how the Dragon should look...

Working up my ideas a bit more, with notes about light and dark, possible colours, different compositions and details...

I think I know where I want to go from here... I had initially just envisaged a square composition but quite like the idea of doing it on a circle... maybe somewhere between the two circular ones I have here. I'd be interested to hear which you prefer, square or round??

Next will be to finalise the composition and the details that need tweaking, before drawing it out full size onto my watercolour paper... always an anxious transition! I'll let you know how it turns out...


  1. These drawings are gorgeous. I love seeing the creative process that others go through. As for square vs. the risk of sounding wishy-washy, I do like both. The circle has a feeling of completeness, and comfort; while the square has a bit of uneasiness, and of peeking in on something as an observer. Guess it depends on the mood one is after. In any event, they're both fabulous!

  2. I like the ones where you've set the dragon and boys in a roundel - it suggests an egg, and being enclosed (in a good way) and seems a more satisfying arrangement. Unless you're going to do some sort of border, in which case perhaps a square might be better. Oh dear, I'm not helping, am I?

  3. These are beautiful Carrie! I've got a half finished painting sitting on my easel at the moment (it's been there since January, gulp!) for a friend's young son, of him riding a water dragon. It's a much more 'cartoony' stye than my usual, but as with you, I didn't want it to be scary. I'm still trying to work out all the details, just as you say, things like scales and claws and the like. I've always shied away from drawing them too, for exactly the same reasons!

  4. I like the rounded one - it seems to have more depth somehow; it draws the eye, almost as though you're looking 'into' rather than 'at' the scene - the 'roundness' seems also to emphasis the hug and makes the dragon seem very protective of his small friends.

  5. These drawings are amazing. You have put a lot of work into them and I am sure your friend will be feeling the love you have invested in this pic. I love the rounded one as it reminds me of a great big hug. We could all do with friends like you.

  6. Really love seeing your sketch book and your drawings. I think the feet with the claws are great,with the circular picture below, could you keep the feet too as part of your composition.
    Super work Carrie.

  7. Thanks everyone for all your nice constructive comments, really helpful...! I'm itching to get on with this project now, just waiting for another elusive window of time!


I would love to hear your comments, please type away!

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