Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon

2012 is the Chinese New Year of the Dragon as of today. So to celebrate I thought I'd dig up some of the dragons I've illustrated over the years.

This is my first commissioned dragon from back in the early 80's. I was fresh out of art school and fortunate enough to get some fairly steady jobs doing video covers. This was used in the logo of a Kung Fu movie. It was done in airbrush and Prisma Color pencils.

I Had studied oriental art history at East LA City College which really helped me flesh out the design on this one. A very fun piece to do and one I still own.

Years later Sierra On-Line  up in Oakhurst CA offered me a job in their Creative Services / Marketing department.  We had just become parents of twins and were happy as could be to get out of the crime invested, smoggy, congested LA area.

I had never worked on a computer before but was given one to learn on. At one point they switched us to Apple computers, Photoshop 1 wasn't yet available on standard PC's nor was the main publishing tool of Quark Xpress.

While experimenting with Photoshop I realized it was also a great painting tool. It was extremely clumsy using a mouse to paint and draw with but when I showed my bosses what I could do with it they allowed me to do the Quest for Glory 1 remake cover completely in Photoshop. This is how it came out. Probably one of the first published illustrations done completely in Photoshop. Circa 1992.

Our department also did ads for magazines and this dragon eye with the hero reflected in it was one of them. The tag line was "on second thought maybe you don't want to be a hero". Fortunately they got me a Waccom drawing tab around this time and it made illustrating in Photoshop a ton easier. I have to admit I stole this concept from MC Escher.

My style of drawing dragons will probably always be heavily influenced by Chinese dragons and my first interpretation of them. This blue one was another done completely in Photoshop.

One of the things I loved about painting on the computer was no more breathing paint from airbrushing. I remember one of my early tries of painting a big sky with airbrush and blowing blue snot out my nose. Not a healthy thing for one's lungs considering the carcinogens in paints.

One of the last computer game companies I worked for was the U.S. division of Codemaster's. While learning Maya 3D and making elements for a virtual world I was asked to design a logo for a MMRPG called Dragon Empire. After some quick pencil sketches I rendered this design in Adobe Illustrator, a vector based art tool. Vector drawing allows one to design images that can be blown up to any size without any loss of detail. There's no pixels involved. Great tool for graphic designers doing logo and text editing. It gives one nice crisp edges.

This was the last dragon image I ever painted in Photoshop. One I did just for my own amusement. Still shows the strong influence from my first Chinese dragon.  Haven't done any fantasy sci/fi for a long time. now.  I still admire those who do.Maybe one day I'll do some again.

My current art has been focusing on local landscapes. I love painting with a brush and acrylics. My only complaint about doing things the old fashioned way is not having an undo button. :o)

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