The Dragon

Three months ago, when I looked at “Realistifying” a student’s drawing, I had some high expectations for myself. As a fairly tech-savvy person, I thought I would be able to do 4 or 5 drawings and that it would look like a movie poster… Well, was I wrong!

Although the overall Dragon did not turn out movie quality, I have gained an enormous respect for people who use Photoshop seamlessly. I attempted to make several videos of myself working on the Dragon. However, after a few hours and only a tiny portion of progress, I didn’t think they would be delightful to watch. Not only was I having to pause and watch a 30-40 minute Youtube video, but I was also having to slow it down and re-watch small portions several times to try and mimic their movement or see what tool they had selected.

A massive takeaway from attempting this is how frustrating it can be for a student to put hours into something to only come up with what many would mark as “approaching.” Every day in the classroom, I see students put in extra effort, seek additional support, and are still frustrated at the outcome. As a professional development tactic, I think this is the only way to put yourself in the shoes of a student. To try, struggle, try again, and in the end, know that other people have better outcomes and make it look way easier!

Back to my Dragon. I was very fortunate that I had a young man in grade 7 lend me the picture of his Dragon and allow me to post it all over my blog. There is a piece of me that feels like I have failed him because I thought it would be movie quality, and I believe that is what he expected.

This is the original drawing I had to work from

As I was going through, I had ideas on how to texture things based on what I think a dragon would look like. I will admit that my ability did get in the way of my overall vision; I was still able to learn along the way. Below is an early picture of the progress I was making.

Scales added

At this point, I had been working on this Dragon for a long while. I was several hours of Youtube videos in. I was able to make the general shape. I had a scale texture I used and masked into the shape. Also, with several frustrating attempts, I changed the colour! These were all small successes for me!

Although my overall goal was to “Realistify” this Dragon, I was very curious about many parts of what photoshop had to offer. Learning the layers in themselves was a challenge. The basic premise of if it is on top of the list, it is the top thing. However, when dealing even with this Dragon, there were hundreds of layers to work with. I found myself following Youtube tutorials and working through different projects to learn the tools, which can be found in my Give the People What They Want blog post. There I was able to create some different ones of which I use as my computer background for the time being. I would suggest that new Photoshop users follow tutorials to learn some of the complex tools.

Desktop Background

As I felt more comfortable with these tools, I would go back to work on the Dragon and found myself getting more frustrated because I just felt success in many of the tutorials I followed along with. Patients were a definite need when learning Photoshop. I knew just because I did it 5 minutes ago does not mean I could replicate it again. The Dragon did not turn out exactly how I envisioned when I began this journey three months ago, but here is the grand reveal!

The final product

Things I wish I could have done better would have been the shading on the scales. I messed around with the upper neck for hours trying to blend. I could not figure it out. The spikes are something that looks good but took many, many, many hours. Each one was pasted, sized, and shaded to give an effect. The back spikes are the things I am most excited about. I wish they could have been attached to a cooler-looking Dragon, which was my fault. You will also be able to tell I had to omit some things from the original design because I did not know how to incorporate it with a texture. Looking back, I may have done feathers.

As you can guess, I am no pro when it comes to photoshop. I tried to add a little flair with the castle and moonlighting. Perhaps it was a flop, but I did have fun in the process, although I was testing my patients at times. I can say in the end. I learned more than just Photoshop through my learning project!

I appreciate if you took the time to read my blog throughout this process. Have a great holiday and hopefully you’ll catch me in the next class!

Durston McKenna

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