An encounter of worlds
Hi, I'm Mélanie, self taught artist for years and a student since September 2021 at Institut Artline. The dragon illustration is the first illustration I made as a student. Below, it is mostly previous works. Hope you enjoy it!
The keywords for this piece: Peace, Curiousness, Dragon, Human, Cold
This is the first «big» digital piece I made since I am a student. This piece is about some very dear subjects to me: two beings curious about each other despite the fact they live in their own respective world. They could or can go along, but they will have to accept each other world, history and background.
As usual, I begin with words and, through searchings and iterations, my mind come up with a piece of story that I love to write. It can be a few sentences long, but it helps bulding a coherent illustration.
« And there she was, thinking she would never ever see dragons in her life, sure it didn’t exist anymore.
« They DID exist long times ago, she answered, full of herself. But not anymore. And, let say they still do, how would they live in our world»
Yet there she was, at night, in a natural history museum, facing one of them. It was a dragon, a real dragon, and yet she had no worries. He came to her, starring at her. Peacefully. Full of curiosity. And, little by little, she came closer and closer. If it was not for the glass, they would have touch each other.
It was at night, and there she was. This moment was hers, and she would’nt give up on it, no matter what »
I went for an asian-looking dragon. Asian dragons are far less threatening (at least for me) than european dragons. They don’t have so many muscles, they’re more about curves than pure strenght. I also mixed some animals as baby seals to have a rounder head and a kind-of fluffy fur and the ivory horns and his only tooth are a reference to the walrus tusks.
In place of paws or claws, he has fins with suckers. It enables him to fix on the ice and the rocks easier and it avoids him to tire him out.
Initially, he had black eyes but it quicley changed to red to make him an albinos dragon. It also adds him some more wild vibes.
The black / stone of his gorget quickly became a transparent iced / cristallished gorget through which you can see his heart illuminating.
Once I have my creature, I look for composition. My storytelling / storyline evolves a lot in this phase.
On this case, characters were in a cavern, watching the dragon from afar.
I’ve always kept this difference between the two: humans were on the rocks, curious, and the dragon was in a snowy-environment. But I felt like the human being in this piece would bother the dragon more than anything else, like if he was sneaking in someone’s room or private place. It was not the exact feeling I was looking for.
Finally, I went for a museum: character and dragon were separated by a glass. They were in a very slick environment and the dragon remains in a kind of a cavern. The two characters would be separated by a glass, so there can’t be any threat. And also, this glass represent the thin space you can go through to enter someone else' universe.
I had some feedbacks on it, pointing out several problems: composition, shapes, lights and darks, materials etc. I also had some problems with the values there.
I found it was easier to restart from the scratch than to rework this piece.
So I just kept my storyline and start sketching again
As a second attempt, I kept the idea of a natural history museum but redo the background and changed the posting of the characters. This feels more natural this way. The girl stays a very generic character. I still wanted her to have the less informations possible to focus on the main subject of the scene. I also reworked my values.
The second attempt felt right this time
I did some iterations on this scene. First, I wanted to test with some coloring. Finally, I just left just the dress of the girl coloured in the same red than the dragon’s eye to create more link between them than just them looking at each other and to create an harmony in colors. I decided to left all that’s left in a grey scale to focus one more time on the dragon and the girl.
All the other iterations were done after feedbacks: moostly, it was about my storytelling. The goal there was to find the best way to clarify it.
Finally, I decided to go without any reflection. It takes back some realistic feeling but it brings some surrealist, dream-ish feels to the scene.
Studies about lights and darks made before entering school
From dancers photo references - Clip Studio Paint
Some digital painting fanarts done of novels I've read: The Mirror Visitor and Jonas
Some portraits I did back then to practice - Clip Studio Paint
Some school work for my digital painting course. The first two were too study lights, dark and values. The last one is to practice composition and color / color theory
First work ever on photoshop
One of our work was to make an animated gif avatar in any form we want as long as we can justify it.
Mine was an owl. It is a very curious animal as I am. It has a lot of cute or funny mimic, and I do this kind of things. Then I added some personnal features as glasses, blush, brown and white hairs and big eyes.
Some traditional sketches I did very quickly to
1. have fun
2. look for ideas
Once we did our animated gif, we had to make a rough avatar with a more realistic feel
Thank you for your attention! Hope you enjoyed it ~