Saturday, May 8

TABASCO baby dragon creation demo

   Hello! Welcome to my first artwork post here! I thought I'd post the development of the TABASCO® baby dragon promotional piece for anyone interested. Thanks to all the positive responses to this piece on facebook and elsewhere including the reposts (with credits, of course:P)
  The initial thought I had was to mix some of the lure the fantasy art I've been inspired by lately at CGSociety with my roots in advertising art. I'd always rather tell a story with my pictures rather than make a picture without a specific purpose in mind. Art for art's sake has it's place for sure,but I'm hardwired by now to try for commerical viability, even in a sample piece.
Speaking of that, buy a print or gift here: HERE!

   So here's the first pre-reference thumbnail sketch I did. It's pretty uninformed, but it's an idea "hatched" so to speak. As you can see, the first sketch was flopped.
   I'm including a couple more iterations of the rough sketch along the way in case its interesting to see its evolution. As is sometimes the case, there are things looking back that I wish I would have kept in the final design, but live and learn.
   I got a little more reference in front of me. gathering up lizards and dragons. While I kind of liked the feeling of the "gooey frog hands" on the bottle from a tactile point of view, I thought it would take away from the realism of the piece in the end. And since baby dragons are real, this is really important :P

    I was still struggling a bit with the angle of the head here. this sketch is pretty cartoony, but there's something about the contact and intimacy between the dragon and the bottle that I miss now, honestly.
    I tried to get the head positioned in a way that I thought was more possible for a dragon/lizard and moved more towards the boney looking hands of our real lizard friends.
      This version has some pretty substantial "fins" all the way up to the head, which I later toned down for the sake of the little ears which I liked to pick up the wing material. It's my world right? I decided against the pupils at this point also because they just looked goofy to me.
   I've started to develop the light direction at this point, which is the primary reason I flopped the piece. I wanted the light to lead into the picture
   So here's the line drawing over the beginnings of my underpainting. I like to paint into a mid-tone grey with a relevant tint depending on the subject matter. I paint with white mostly, unless there's an obvious color light source if I just don't want to fight the grey as much later in the process. in this case I couldn't resist "screening" out the pink translucency in the wings and ears as well as the sub-surface light in the tail fins
The critical stage of the scales is accomplished by assembling/and or cloning photo assets to combine with the basic form rendering using a combination of Multiply and Luminosity mode overlays (see gif below)

    Continuing with the under-painting, I've decided to enhance the red reflective light that the bottle might throw since it's the star of the show. The effect is subtle in the final, but it's part of the mix.
 Here's the build stages starting with

•BaseColor •Underpainting •Combined •Finishing Effects

Here's a detail
shot of the head.
That's it! I hope you found this demo useful, enjoyable, interesting or some combination of those. I always enjoy seeing how the other half works, and I hope you do also. I figure we all make each other better artists that way.
Till the next time!
John :)

So, I've used this little guy as my inspiration recently to go ahead and explore some gaming tools and learn the pipeline on my personal time. 

It's been a great experience, and while I'm sure it makes sense to divide all these tasks across a team of people who can do these things more proficiently, learning what others need to do in the pipeline always informs whatever part of the job you choose to specialize in. Here is the project, if you're interested.

 Thanks again for following! Project Link:


Mug It Up!/Jim H said...

So the scales are a sample! Cool! Works great.
Nice job with this one overall.
When I look at this John, I can't help but feel you're really telling us something about the way you truly feel about Tabasco sauce...

Andrea said...

So, now it's revealed how baby dragons are raised. That's missing in my dragon history books, thank you!
It's always interesting to see the development of artworks. I love to learn from other artists,get new influences and learn different techniques.
Thank you for posting your progress and the final artwork!
It would be interesting to hear something about your favourite brushes.

John R Wohland said...

Thanks for the comments! I'm glad you like it :)

I'm never sure if it looks pretentious to explain how I did something. I'm just sharing my knowledge and trying to be helpful

Peace :)

tinypearl5758 said...

"WOW" I love "Tabasco Baby Dragon" It is very imaginative,Cute,Brilliant, it put a smile on my face.

And the process is very exciting to see. I look forward to seeing more of your work. Fantastic stuff. Thank you for sharing with us. xxx

Alexandra said...

Hi :) Thanks for following one of my art blogs. I thought it might be a random university friend until I came on here and saw this!
It's incredible, really. It's so inspiring to see someone colouring the way I like to, but in a vastly advanced manner - I look forward to studying your work and methods in detail so I can learn and improve in my own work. And after reading your life post, it's amazing to see how such a career develops over time. I'm 20 now, and reading your blog makes me excited to think of what I might be doing in 25 years :)

So yes, fan-rant aside, thank you again for randomly following me and in doing so giving me a chance to learn what I feel will be a great great deal from you and your work ^_^


John R Wohland said...

Thank so much the really kind comments!

~TinyPearl~ I'm glad the little guy made you smile and you appreciate the demo.. It makes it worth the trouble :)

~Alexandra~ When I saw how you broke down your process into steps, I thought you might like the demo here. And feel free to randomly follow me too.. there's a few spots left :P (isn't this supposed to be random?)

Nekranea said...

I love this work, the idea and the execution are fantastic, thanks for sharing your work process, it´s very useful.
and thanks for following my blog :)

BlacknickSculpture said...

That is one sweet looking baby dragon! It was interesting seeing the piece develop through the various steps.

Kit said...

Love your work,

John R Wohland said...

Thanks guys! I appreciate your appreciations :)

Russ Cox said...

Thanks for sharing your technique. Great work by the way!

John R Wohland said...

Thanks Russ! I'm glad you like it! I figure everyone of us has something to share. You never know where you'll pick up something KEY to your artistic growth! I'm guilty of being a little too busy to look around as much as I should have in the past, but I won't let that happen again :)

Paul Moyse said...

Great stuff John, thanks for sharing!

John R Wohland said...

Thank you Paul..and also for setting a great example within this little artists' community by graciously sharing your knowledge :)

Judy said...

WOW!!! really awesome, I love baby dragon it is really cute!!!

John R Wohland said...

Thanks Judy! The reaction to this one really caught me off-guard. It's nice when a piece of art occasionally strikes a chord with folks :)

odon said...

I love this work, fantastic, it´s very useful.

John R Wohland said...

Thank you , and you're welcome.. Sorry for the delayed response :)

Unknown said...

i was wondering if can you do something custom for me. i have baby dragon tattoo in mind and need it to be drawn. i had a similar style dragon in mind. if you are interested in helping me. Email me at for details

De esse Boutique said...

That was fascinating. Incredibly I followed it from a hair discussion group :0.
The baby dragon is enchanting and your process very interesting to read about. Thank you.

Michelle L said...

I think it would be great on a T-Shirt!

John R Wohland said...

Thank you peoples... and yes Michelle, I think I'd like to have a T-Shirt also. I did buy my own mug on Deviant... hehe

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Hi, Did you create the Dragon or is it a real Tabasco advertisement? If it is do you have a source for it?

John R Wohland said...

Hi Mara,
Thanks for checking out my tutorial!
Well, not sure what more I could do to show that I created it, but I guess you're wondering if it's a "real" advertisement. In fact, my line of work is to "pre-visualize" ideas for advertisements, some of which become photographed print ads or filmed television commercials. This type of work is usually done quickly, and on the loose side, just to sell the idea to the client and help get the concept to the final production stage.
This one was just a self-promotion sample, but it is an original idea of mine. It's good for Tabasco®, and good for me... but it's really just a piece of "fan art" at the end of the day. Thanks for the comment! ~ John

Duplica123 said...

Hi! I love your Tabasco Dragon piece. I wanted to let you know it's being sold on as a DIY diamond painting without your watermark.

John R Wohland said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the questionable usage. There's a lot of that out there, unfortunately, and really not my place to chase it all down. For my part, it's really just a piece of fan art since I'm paying tribute to the Tabasco brand, and I leave it to them to decide what usage is appropriate (or not).