Saar’Jya was the first character designed for the novel, and the work that went into her helped set the tone for the characters we would later tackle. In the book, she is described as graceful and beautiful, a real wonder to behold.
The idea behind the character is that she is the first dragon, and therefore would have to appear somewhat primitive in comparison to the other dragons in the story. She would have to have traits common to both types of dragons, both the classic dragons of European folklore and the snake-like dragons of Asian culture. Her wings could not be fully developed, with more of a sail appearance.
Early sketches showed the very basic design that David started from.
A lot of inspiration was taken from extinct snake species which still had their limps, as evident by the elongated body and head. The sail like wing was a combination of the classic European wing design and a Dimetrodon’s signature feature. Some inspiration was taken from the Brass Dragon of D&D in the beginning stages.
Detail on the wings.
Next came the detail on the face. David provided three high detail drawings. Between them, they all had the traits of the final composite.
Overall, the final design bears the greatest resemblance to the first drawing, but details from the other two are evident. The shape of the mouth and design around the eye in design B as well as the eye, teeth patterns, and jawline of C were applied to the A sketch, and this is the final result.
The final detail on the full body.
Next were a few rough sketches of the front of the face. The latter is much closer to the look of the artwork.
And detail on the character’s eye.
Saar’Jya’s color scheme was to appear very vibrant, reflecting her divinity. Brass seemed appropriate for her overall skin tone. As for her eyes, they were made a striking blue, something that could be both beautiful and intimidating.
This scheme was applied to Joseph Buehrer’s illustrations who took David’s designs and rendered them in loving detail. These two images are among the first in the novel, and occur during Saar’Jya’s opening narration.
It was here that Joseph added a few traits to the character. Firstly her scales were given a slight iridescence to resemble opals, and a glow was put around her body to better illustrate the character’s divinity. Her face was made to be very expressive, as evident by the sly squint of her eye.
The design of Saar’Jya was an important stepping stone in the creation of the book, and served as the beginning for the next design, the design of the evil dragon Heavy. Buehrer’s artwork further boosted our confidence that when completed, the illustrations for the novel would be of high quality and give it a look unique to itself.