I’m not sure if this is the final draft, but I thought I’d share.
This came out of a quick warmup sketch that turned into a full-blown painting before I knew what was happening. About 6 hours over two nights. I wanted to create a classic dragon, ruthlessly evil, winged, and generally unpleasant. And with articulate hands. Dragons need hands.
The sketch started very rough. I then tried to exaggerate the original stance I’d drawn by placing the legs further apart, suggesting weight. Some highlighting and deepening of shadows came next. I also refined the neck, making it a bit more sinuous, and elaborated on the back foot.
The piece up until now had been created on a few layers: one for the darks, and another for the highlights, all against a textured paper background. I’ve been using a method whereby I draw on an Adjustment Layer mask, so the line art is revealing a color beneath. It’s an easy way to adjust the color of the line art on the fly.
At this point, I placed a weird orange to turquoise color gradient below the line art, again in an Adjustment Layer. This allowed me to tweak the gradient in real-time, and see the results as I adjusted. When I got some colors I liked, I started painting in opaque layers on top of the whole deal, eventually flattening everything and adding more layers on top as I refined areas like the head, wings, claws and flames.
For most of the picture, I used a textured brush that I got from somewhere — most likely an IFX disk. I was paying attention to focus in this one, hence the brushy areas juxtaposed against the detailed ones.And I tried to really nail down three distinct light sources: the ambient greenish sky lighting, the uplight from the flames, and an unlikely but effective spotlight directly above the dragon.