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Designing Dragons (Part 4 )

November 17, 2007

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I am waist-deep in my new book project Kenny & The Dragon. It is a retelling of the Kenneth Grahame short story, The Reluctant Dragon, which was found in his book Dream Days published back in 1898.

Dragon thumbnail sketches

This is one of my favorite dragon stories that I remember as a child. The surprise here is that the dragon is hardly the fierce, fire-breathing variety – he’s more a poet and a pacifist. There is also a slight humor in both the original version and my retelling, so I wanted his design to reflect that, yet still be an interesting and unusual creature.

Dragon thumbnail sketches

My first attempt was very closely based on Ernest Shepard’s design in the original version. I quickly abandoned it and moved along feeling there was nothing more I could add…

Bird-like dragon sketch

I came close to this birdlike beaky version (remember those Pern dragons?) which I felt looked intelligent enough to speak, read and write, but wasn’t quite warm enough for the mood of the text that I had written.

Turtle-like dragon sketch

This turtle-inspired version was more on the right track…but I still wasn’t quite there yet.

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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.