Paint a dragon with per­son­al­ity

Manuel Cas­tañón shares his process for paint­ing an orig­i­nal dragon, from sketch to fin­ished il­lus­tra­tion

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Manuel Cas­tañón paints an orig­i­nal dragon.

This im­age was made as an en­try for the Face­book group Draw or Die’s monthly As­cen­sion con­test. The idea was to paint our­selves with our own per­sonal dragon, one that would “Sym­bol­ise who you are and what you love about ev­ery­thing in life”. It was meant to be our in­ner fire, as artists, some­thing that drives us for­ward.

I must con­fess this prospect made me feel like a child. Since dragons were among the first things I started draw­ing at the age of four, my love for them has only grown stronger over the years. I wanted to show my love for fan­tasy and art, the joy of my in­ner child, what I am and what I want to be, all in one im­age.

Need­less to say it wasn’t easy. This is the fourth it­er­a­tion I did for the con­test over a one-month pe­riod. It was the break­through af­ter a lot of failed com­po­si­tions and colour choices, but once I ar­rived at this sketch ev­ery­thing went smoothly. This is the process I’m go­ing to show you.

Never let your­self get dis­cour­aged when you’re strug­gling. Craig Mullins once said, “Fail­ure is 99 per cent of the artis­tic process”. And he’s right!

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