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 Concepts and Illustration collection

Concepts and Illustration collection

Jose Ochoa
by joseochoa on 31 May 2019 for Rookie Awards 2019

My body of work revolves around the combination of sci-fi and medieval fantasy themes. My long term personal goal is to create a setting that can accommodate bizarre creatures designs, aliens, dragons, ancient tech, knights and massive cathedrals into into a cohesive, colorful world.

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Project Overview

The World

Part of this world was developed as an independent project which I presented as my final assignment for my master's in late 2018. The project consists of a series of concepts, sketches and illustrations showing a world in which different species of dragons and dragonriders compete in a gladiator-style tournament.

Aliens are commonplace in this universe, and use the Earth as a hub for certain entertainment venues and as a sort of ecological reserve due to its naturally optimal conditions to host a wide array of lifeforms. As a result, many alien species were imported into the Earth and have long ago made of it their natural home.

Most of my illustrations depict a variety of dragons, other large creatures, and the environments that they may inhabit. They often have their own small pieces of lore attached to them.

The term "dragon" in my mind is a very wide concept. Apart from the traditional european style dragons, I enjoy experimenting with interesting animal combinations. Biology is a big passion of mine, so I try to put it to use. 

This scene depicts a Common Drake inadvertedly flying into the territory of a massive Rhinoceros Wyrm. 

"Tale of the Counselor of the White King:

The king was said to be impossibly wise, making the toughest decisions with the certainty of one who has lived several lifetimes and seen all sorts of matters resolved. He would often go down to his private chapel to meditate on the kingdom's problems, not to be disturbed. Some say that a strong breeze could be felt throughout the castle grounds whenever the king's mind was especially troubled. "

Dragons form part of the original biome of the Earth, but have become much more common in the wild since the long-forgotten arrival of alien species. Along with their consistent increase in numbers they also adopted new and terrifying shapes. Whether this is due to evolution, genetic experimentation, or something else entirely, is a matter of debate.

The arrival of advanced tech during ancient times left countless technological relics lost in the environment. These have become natural wonders, the basis of new civilizations, new religions, and, some speculate, even the true origin of some of the strange creatures that now inhabit the planet.

Since the Earth is a sort of ecological reserve, interplanetary authorities agree that it is better if most of the planet remains undisturbed, avoiding mass industralization and globalization.

"The Ancient One

An old rite of passage amongst men of native tribes. The goal isn't to kill the Old One, for that would prove impossible for a single hunter, but to stab the beast and leave their mark in the form of a scar, or in some cases a piece of the weapon embedded on its skin. The task seems daunting, but in reality the old snake has seen so many hunters, and its hide is so thick, that it is neither hurt nor truly bothered by the tiny human in front of it. The hunter might as well be stabbing the trunk of a tree, for all the damage it will do. 

The test is one of bravery, resolve, and hunting prowess; not of raw power. But of course the tribe elders would never let a young, proud warrior know that beforehand..."

Once the warriors have succeded in their rite of passage the village elders send them out as hunters. They venture out in an attempt to gather resources and protect the village from the beasts that roam about, without even being fully aware of what stalks them. They've grown accustomed to strange creatures over the generations, but still struggle to truly understand their prey.

In reality these tribes have little concept of what goes around them on a global scale. The term "alien" is meaningless to them, who instead see only monsters thrown out of the heavens and into their lands.

Golden dragons tend to inhabit hidden volcanic caves. Their bright scales and sharp mane of spikes make them both hard to look at directly and extremely dangerous up close. Tribesmen avoid them when possible, but off-world smugglers actively seek their valuable scales.

In dragonrider terms, despite the tactical advantage of blinding an enemy with their golden scales, mounting this type of dragon is inadvisable. Their lonesome temper makes bonding with them quite hard, and setting up a saddle among the spikes can prove lethal if the beast moves too harshly.

Bioluminescent drakes migrate seasonally to colder climates, as their tremendous inner body temperature becomes too uncomfortable to bear during the summer months. 

The crab-like armored dragon rests flatly in muddy or desert areas. It is known to use its "wings" (in reality especially evolved claw appendages) as shields to cover its already tough body from harm. The giant pincers allow it to reach escaping prey and tear open other crab dragon's armor during territorial disputes. Its double set of jaws help manipulate food and eat through most organic material with ease.

Its aggressive territorial behaviour and formidable defensive capabilities make it a popular mount amongst tournament combatants.

The artificial dragon is more a vehicle than a beast, though its advanced AI is programmed to follow similar pattern behaviours as a tamed animal in order to bring about a more organic link with its pilot. Pilots tend to be former dragonriders, as one must be in order to enter the tournaments, so this kind of relationship to their mount is essential.

The artificial dragon is modelled to the size and specs of the association hosting the tournaments so that it may be accepted as a contender. Even then, the use of powerful weaponry proves to be of little advantage, considering some of the monsters they allow as mounts.

Other dragon mount ideas where I experimented with stranger combinations of animals, such as the concept of a koala dragon and a crane or raven dragon.


The Pilot-Knight is a dragon rider equipped with a body-wide armored harness. The armor consists of a jumpsuit covered in segmented plates, straps, and layers of thermal cloth that grant high mobility and insulation against the cold temperatures of high altitude environments.

The suit also has several handles that serve as anchor points to the pilot's mount. The suit is self-regulating, and lined with complex circuitry under the outer layers of cloth.

Its design is inspired on a mix between jet fighters and templar knights.  Designed as the pilot for the Artificial Dragon/mech dragon.

Humanoid alien species also coexist with humans on Earth. The age of interstellar discovery is far from over, but some sentient species have been known for a long, long time.


Additional Artworks & Studies

With the bulk of my project posted I'd like to show some unrelated pieces:

Left: Fan-art of my favorite videogame, Bloodborne.
Right: Personal piece for mood exploration and a bit of surrealism.

And finally a few recent portrait studies. I'm aware that I lack human characters in my portfolio, and have recently taken up the task to better understand them at a technical level.

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