Chapter 1: where we meet the hatchling [+ video]

I’d like to introduce you to my little dragon hatchling!

Hit play to see behind-the-scenes making this maquette. (And if you missed seeing Kepler goat in the prologue video, don’t worry, he makes a special appearance in this one!)

Duration: 2½ minutes. If you enjoyed this video, please help me out and like + comment on YouTube!

Little hatchling is not from around here. He was born in the wilds of Wellington at my art school, The Learning Connexion. There must have been a fair amount of magic swirling around – a lot of mythical, legendary, and fantastic creatures were born the same week!

Technically speaking, he’s a wyvern

He has four limbs – two hind legs and his arms are wings. Dragons are 6-limbed creatures with four legs and two wings. But unless you’re talking English, Scottish, or Irish heraldry, you can generally use the terms ‘dragon’ and ‘wyvern’ interchangeably.

His anatomy is rather fascinating

If we look at his skeleton, the head, down the neck, spine and hind legs are like a horse. And the arms, hands, and fingers are bat-like. Or human-like. The bone structure of a bat’s arms and hands are actually very similar to a human’s.

It’s almost like someone researched how to patch different animals together to make a fantastic creature…!

The beginnings of the dragon maquette's wire skeleton stands on a sketchbook of dragon anatomy ideas.
The dragon maquette's wire skeleton is complete and is standing on a wooden block.
The hatchling’s full skeleton.

With the big muscles added, he looks somewhat more reptilian. Even as a young dragon, he has these massive haunches for speed and power and springing into the air. And there’s his broad, deep chest which is great for stamina.

TIn foil covers the dragon maquette's wire skeleton to build up the big muscles.
Skeleton with big muscles added.

With skin and more defined muscles, the haunches are starting to resemble a cat’s – especially with this long, expressive tail for balance. And swishing of course. The chest and arms are wiry, strong, and bat-like.

And his neck is curved like a proud stallion. He’s totally getting up to mischief right now!

Dragon hatchling maquette finished and standing proudly on his wooden block, neck curved and wings outstretched.

The blue is an oil-based modelling material called plastilina. It’s handy because it doesn’t dry. But it also doesn’t lend itself to fine details. So he’s a little soft and unformed.

Which is fine. He’s still a baby. We won’t know what sort of dragon he’ll grow up to be until he gets older.

Dragon hatchling maquette finished and standing proudly on his wooden block, neck curved and wings outstretched.

In the next chapter…

We’ll show you how a spot of Old Master painter research turned into inspiration for lighting and a pose. The portrait begins!

Hatchling and I will see you there.