Prose Header

White Dragon: Artist’s Notes

by Richard Ong


I started this painting wishing not to draw a typical dragon that you would normally see in books or in the movies. I wanted this dragon to be unique and right at home in its icy, primordial environment.

It would be an Arctic dragon and therefore, should have feathers, like the feathered dinosaurs. I used the following real-world animals for inspiration as I slowly composed my white dragon: the Texas horned lizard and the Arctic Tern as seen in Iceland.

Phase 1: Using Traditional Paint

I sketched a rough outline of the scene using pencil on a 140-lb 9“ x 12” cold press Canson Montval watercolor paper. Using several shades of acrylic ink (Daler Rowney and Liquitex), I fleshed out the scene in layers: starting from the back with the sky in Cerulean Blue, then the glacial mountain as an outline using Burnt Umber before layering it with Grey, Cerulean Blue and White.. using the corner edge of the brush by applying a thick slide of glacial ice like a ski slope.

The tainted cloud from the volcanic eruption is next, using Burnt Umber, Grey and Process Yellow. White paint is used to trace the lightning strikes typically seen over some volcanic eruptions. I dipped the brush in a bit of water to dilute the stormy sky by lightly brushing over the wet ink, giving it a faded and distant look.

I also added the lava flow, etching over the glacial ice using Flame Red, Process Yellow and Hot Mama Red. More White is brushed over the lava flow to simulate the steam of rapidly evaporating ice.

The dragon was initially outlined using Burnt Umber, then the details were added using Flame Red (mouth and mane), Emerald Green mixed with White is used to highlight and give the feather covering some definition and White with Grey to trace a fur-like texture on the dragon’s body using once again, the corner edge of the brush. Flame Orange and Process Yellow was used to simulate the fire from the volcano, the dragon’s feet and the torch.

Phase 2: Using Digital Applications

I photographed the painting using my iPhone 5s under a yellow light. Additional enhancements were added on the image using smart phone apps such as Repix to add the patches of “white fog” over the glacial slope to simulate the sizzling steam of water vapour from the heat of the flowing lava.

In reality, I used the “Eraser” function of Repix to white-out certain areas of the mountain. Photoshop is used to give the artwork a cold, bluish-white, wintry feel, enhance the outlines and add the dim glow of the sun above the mountaintop.

Copyright © 2016 by Richard Ong

Home Page