My son's name means "armed defender." I did my first sketch for his name painting several years ago. I started with the most obvious idea. Armed defender. Check. But it felt very stagnant. I added something in the background for him to defend, something cathedral-ish to represent faith and church. I let it rest.
By the time I picked it up again, my son was old enough to offer his opinion. He wanted a dragon. That was no problem. I've always enjoyed drawing dragons, so I thought, why not? But it seemed a little crowded having the dragon and the defender sharing the space equally, and all the poses I was coming up with were too melodramatic. Again, I put it down for a while.
As I started thinking about this image again, I had a clearer idea of how I wanted to do the dragon. I wanted more of a silhouette against a large red-orange sun, with minimum rendering of the form. That meant the silhouette had to be really interesting. I tried a few different neck & head positions, looking for just the right suggestion of motion and ferocity. Even sketched in my Franklin Planner... (gotta love the quote about cookies and a nap at the top of the page)
I wanted the dragon to look fierce, like it was striking, not coiling back. I finally felt good about having a more downward thrust to his pose. Then I drew this little sketch with more of an S curve.
The last thing to solve was my guard dude. I had always tried to show him from the front or the side because I thought it would be more fun to design his helmet and his breastplate, but with the dragon in the background, I couldn't very well have his back turned to the enemy. This is the kind of guy that would face the threat head-on. So I had to get over the need to show his front. (Some things are hard to let go, but that's what makes for bad paintings and bad movies, too!) I also had to figure out the type of weapon he would have. Guards often have big spears, so I chose to go with a spear-like axe (what is that, a halberd?). In previous versions, the weapons were at various angles, kind of a poised-to-strike position, but in the end I decided a solid vertical line would better portray strength. That coupled with the stable triangle of his legs would give a sense of solidarity. I threw in just a hint of a crenelated wall to give the idea that he is defending a building instead of just meeting his foe on the open battlefield. And who doesn't love a nice, billowy cape?
I don't know when I'll have time to paint this one, but it warmed my heart that my son couldn't suppress his grin when I showed it to him. Mommy done good.