Here, There Be Dragon Banners
This entry was posted on March 6, 2013.
Dragons are pretty cool. Like....really cool. And it sort of feels like the year of the dragon, right? We've got dragons in "Game of Thrones", dragons in our video games, dragons in the upcoming "Hobbit" films. Man, if you've ever read Naomi Novik's "Temeraire" series, she's got dragons in the Napoleonic wars. Regardless of whether or not you're a fantasy fan, you respect the dragon.
So, let's talk about why this beast is so cool. Not only that, but how you can design a dragon to fit your marketing needs or new viral campaign.
Now, to my knowledge, I can't recall a single sports team, professional or otherwise, that has a dragon as their mascot. The only time I have seen it was in "Ender's Game", and that was Ender's army logo, and it was fictional. Oh well.
History of the Dragon
Amazingly enough, dragons have been present in almost every ancient culture on the planet. They may not have looked the same, but the perceptions were similar across the continents: serpentine bodies, a special ability (such as fire or poison), hatched from eggs, and having feathers or scales. Some theorists believe that ancient peoples may have been inspired by dinosaurs that were still roaming around before disappearing during the Ice Age.
Dragons were depicted as being the top of the food and spiritual chain, an ultimate force of nature, religion, or the universe. Heroes wanted to slay them. Some cultures worshipped them. Nobody truly knows where the first dragon came about, only that they first appeared on record in Ancient Greece.
Shaping the Fantasy
You've got a little history and some tidbits on what they look like. Fantastic, but that doesn't help you narrow down the options. Ever since the dragon first appeared on the page, artists throughout history have run with the idea and produced all kinds of dragons. There is no right answer to what a dragon looks like. Which leaves a lot of room for exploration within your campaign.
So, you want to use a dragon in your next advertisement, but want to see some examples first? No problem. Check out this compilation on Top Design Mag HERE that shows amazing dragon illustrations and a couple of product placements thrown in as well. Perhaps it'll give you some ideas for your dragon's custom design.
Connotations of the Dragon
While you're working with a designer, or perhaps designing a dragon yourself, you should keep in mind what cultural connotations stem from the dragon. In other words, it's generally not recommended to use a dragon as a mascot for a floral shop, or vice versa. I mean, they breathe fire: fire and flowers...eh, not a good mix.
First of all, the thing that a dragon symbolized was sheer power. People regard it with the same respect as a natural disaster. They are, for the most part, large creatures with angry and/or wise dispositions. It doesn't matter where you look in film, literature, or other media, or how cute the dragon is - characters will always regard them with a hint of fear.
The second thing is special abilities. It wasn't until I read the "Temeraire" series, by Naomi Novik, that I even considered the possibility of other dragons that could do stuff other than breathe fire. Or even have no powers at all! Here's just a short list of things that are also possible: water spitter, venom, acid, roar (amazing soundwaves that can fell a forest!). Or again, nothing at all!
The last thing is temperament, and this actually varies. Some people think of all dragons as evil, hoarding thieves that will eat you. Others consider them as wise elders, who live long, and have the experience to pass on. In this case, the choice is up to you. If you want to include a backstory with your dragon, consider their temperament. That's the fun part.