Summoning the Dragon- Environment/Character


I’ve been looking for a forum like this for a while. I’m wanting to become a professional illustrator working in the publishing industry doing bookcover art. This piece is meant to be used as a bookcover for a fantasy type novel. I’m trying to create an interesting and arresting image.


Interesting is a very broad description, what feedback are you looking for exactly?

It looks like you want to express an action scene in this picture. The posing of the dragon is good, maybe having it focus more on the wizard might improve it a bit. It’s not so clear what the wizard is doing, i guess he’s casting a spell, improving his pose/action might improve your illustration.

Also, see ‘creative illustration’ from andrew loomis on its a big read but there are lots of helpful ideas in it to make illustrations look more appealing :slight_smile:


I think it’s a great image, but a few small touch-ups could make it a wonderful image. Like above mentioned, perhaps making the wizards pose a little more dramatic, or giving some indication that he is casting a spell (if that is what he’d doing of course) would help the image a lot.
Two more small things that I picked up right away.
Firstly, the dragon’s eyes, I can see where they’re looking if I look closely enough, (the small lighter-red dots in the eyes I think are what’s looking at the wizard), but for a book cover something like this has to leap out at the viewer when they first see it. Maybe making the irises more obvious, brighter red or even adding a slight glow too…
And lastly I think the lower half of the image is much more detailed and generally nicer than the top half, or to be specific, nicer than the pillar in the top half. It seems you’ve put a great amount of effort into the lower portion, like the stairs, trees etc, and the top looks rushed… Maybe giving the pillar more detail, sharpening it up, giving it moss, cracks and clearer runes.

Otherwise this is a really nice image, for a book cover it could be very gripping, nice job and stick at it!

Jimzip :smiley:


My C&C are normally more constructive, so I’ll have to post again with some suggestions. For now, I’ll be a prick and point out some things that I feel are holding you back in this.

  1. That’s a neat thing on the mountain. First thing I noticed, in fact. The brain discounts / ignores the dragon, the mountain, and the wizard, since they are common images. I’m assuming that you want the focus to be fight, right?

  2. I can’t figure out what the light sources are here. Take a second peek for yourself at various bits? Dunno. My eye got lost looking for the main action.

  3. The wizard looks like food. Great dragon, but the low amount of detail put into the wizard makes me think that I’m supposed to emphathize with the dragon.

  4. The dragon’s stance is super! The wizard… has no stance. Unless he’s playing charades, give him more of an expressive stance.

  5. Technical point (that may not be an issue): the white underbelly, as it is drawn, would continue up along the right side (the hidden side) of the dragon’s head. It should drop sooner, given the twisting of the neck.

  6. The dragon has more light. I as a human fear the dark, and the wizard appears to have come from the darkness.

  7. The skyline is too bright. I know what you’re trying to illustrate there, but stick with a gradual lightening of the sky over there. It’s competing with the foreground action.

  8. I’m so mean…

I noticed the relatively blank top, but I’m assuming that you’re leaving this space for title, author, and other information, right?


The biggest thing that stands out to me is that there is no color unity. The pieces (dragon, rocks, sky, wizard) may as well have been cut and pasted from a bunch of source images in photoshop. Imagine adding an ambient light source in a 3d program, and what it would do to the overall coloration of the scene. The sky could be casting a deep blue over everything, which would especially come through in the shadows. The wizard’s turquoise staff could be emitting an orb of light on the rocks below. Remember the only thing lighting the mist is the sky, so it should be bluer to match.

Remember that the viewer’s eye will, in part, be drawn towards contrast. Right now the biggest area of contrast is the dragon’s underbelly. Its horns and the turquoise writing on the mountain are a close second. By toning down the harsh edges of the white underbelly, and playing up the color and tone contrast in the focal points (presumably the wizard and the dragon’s eyes), you can redirect the viewer’s attention.


You guys are giving me some great feedback. I really appreciate all of your crits and help. I’ve known that there was something wrong with this picture, but wasn’t sure what the specific problems were. I need to think about all of the things that have been mentioned and figure out the best way to address them. I’ll post an update once I’ve decided on a course of action, but I did want to thank everyone for the advice. It’s hard to find boards that do more than say, “Nice Picture” or something like that.


Looking forward to the update. Glad we helped.

Jimzip :smiley:


pyraxis: Thank you! Like crumbs in the cracks between sofa cushions, the concept of colour unity was lost in the crevices in my mind! Thank you for reminding me!


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