Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Python Dragon Time Lapse Sketch

Check out my Time Lapse video of a recent digital painting: Python Dragon



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dracopedia:The Bestiary

An Artists Guide to the Creating Mythical Creatures 

by William O'Connor

  Unleash the Beasts!
For millennia historians, artists and scientists have chronicled their ideas and discoveries of mythological and magical monsters in encyclopedias known as bestiaries. From Asia to America, Japan to the jungles of South Africa, the vast menagerie of exotic and legendary creatures has populated the imaginations of all cultures for centuries.
Beautifully illustrated and fantastically detailed, Dracopedia: The Bestiary is a modern, but no less unsettling reimagining of the ancient version. It is an A-to-Z artist's guide to animals of the legendary world. Some, like the griffin and yeti, may be familiar to you. Others--like the enigmatic questing beast and ferocious manticore--may seem new and strange. Some may even haunt your dreams. Inside the bestiary, you will find:
  • Secrets of each animal's evolution--origins, habitat, anatomy, diet and more.
  • Fantastic illustrations created using pencil sketches and digital coloring.
  • Four-stage demonstrations taking you from concept and design to under-painting and finishing details.
By drawing on the forms and features of more pedestrian animals, you'll learn how to give shape to the bizarre creatures that roam the depths of your imagination, adding to the bestiary of the ages.

 Available at:





Dragon Turtle

Dracopedia ™&© William O'Connor Studios.  Text and images ©2014William O'Connor

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Minotaur

  William O'Connor

Recently working on a concept project for a client I have been exploring the art and the myth of the Minotaur. At first glance we are all familiar with the fantasy monster of half man half bull that lurks in the bowels of ancient labyrinths. This has been a staple of gaming and stories for decades and I myself have faced innumerable minotaurs in cavernous hallways, dispatching them with sword and magic in everything from Dungeons & Dragons to World of Warcraft.

My research into the mythos of the minotaur uncovered a great deal more. When doing a simple Google search for “Minotaur” I was confronted with what seemed a vastly divergent representation of the monster. Everything from classical urns to contemporary game concept art and an unsettling number of erotic hentai depictions of the beast. I came to realize however that all of these are intimately related, and what I thought was a straight forward two-dimensional monster, has revealed centuries of psyco-sexual development.

The original version of the Minotaur story begins in ancient Greece. The monster that is half man half bull is also the half son of King Minos of Crete, born to queen Pasiphae who indulged in bestiality with a bull. Minos imprisoned the monster in an elaborate labyrinth designed by Daedelus. Every year seven youths are sent into the labyrinth to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. The hero Theseus famously brings a spool of thread which he unwinds behind him, and once slaying the monster, follows the thread backward to escape the labyrinth.
The Minotaur GF Watts 1885
But, I’m more interested in the character of the Minotaur himself as an archetypal figure. He has the intellect of a man and the violent virility of a beast. In classical philosophy this was known as the Dionysian/Apollonian Dialectic. The discourse among philosophers such as Socrates as to whether Man was an intellectual creature or a physical creature. Dionysus being the god of hedonism and physical pleasure while Apollo was the God of the arts and science. The Minotaur was a physical manifestation that Man had aspects of both. The cannibalistic devourer of human flesh (figuratively and literally) and conceived by the lustful infidelity of the queen with a bull. This hideous offspring is unwanted and unloved by both his parents and locked away as an embarrassment, while his sister Ariadne is beautiful and adored by everyone. The motif of the labyrinth or maze is universal throughout many cultures as representing the twisting and turning of the path of life, adding to the complex symbolisms of the Minotaur myth.

By the time of The Age of Reason in the 18th century philosophers such as Descartes and Hobbes began to further explore the Duality of Man, later explored by Freidrich Nietzsche in Birth of Tragedy (1891). Was Man an animal with the mind of a god? or a god trapped in the body of an animal? and in what combination did these two aspects of the human condition struggle with each other?
Minotautomachy Pablo Picasso 1934
In the 20th century the advent of psychoanalysis began to codify this duality into a science. Freud’s theory of the Id versus the Ego and Yung’s development of the concept of Archetypes became the leading theories of the day. The classic Oedipus Complex that every man wishes to kill his father and sleep with his mother is deeply represented in the Minotaur myth. The most notorious of artists to explore this theme of the Minotaur was Pablo Picasso. Having spent much of his adult life in dramatic and destructive relationships with a series of women Picasso explored the theme of the Minotaur in a series of drawings and engravings to try to better understand his own subconscious, that of the lecherous, adulterous man who devoured women, in conflict with the intellectual artist who created paintings.
Alien Concept Design. H.R. Giger
Today as I explore the infinite realms of the internet I find that depictions of the Minotaur are more common than perhaps anytime in history. In 1979 Ridley Scott produced a sci-fi reimagining of the Minotaur story with Alien, where a group of sacrificial space-miners are hunted in a warren of hallways and access tubes to either be devoured or impregnated by a horrific monster. When concepting the Alien, artist H.R. Giger was noted to have said that he gave the Alien a decisively phallic shape, because that people are equally terrified of sex and death.  Most recently, I think the character of Tyrian Lannister in the story The Game of Thrones, is a literate metaphor of the Minotaur Complex. Finally, there are the crude and pornographic illustrations made by young artists in the form of what is called “hentai”. (I will not display any of these images or link to any sites), but what I at first found disturbing I realized was the same conflict within the minds of young “artists” to try to come to terms with their developing sexualities and intellects. The same dramatic dichotomy that has faced generations of people regarding nascent sexual urges in stark conflict with their intellectual understanding of gender roles, sexuality and societal standards. Viewed from a purely clinical point of view, these outwardly disturbing images are an interesting insight of what originally intrigued the ancient classical poets and artists. Man as sexual and violent animal, versus Man as intellectual and thoughtful citizen. This duality still rages today, and the Minotaur is there uncomfortably in our subconscious thrashing in the labyrinth of our minds threatening to escape.

Enjoy: Go Forth and Learn.


for more interpretations on the Minotaur Myth read:

Psychology Today: Why Myths Still Matter: Facing Your Inner Minotaur and Following Your Ariadnean Thread
Stephen Diamond. Phd

A Gallery of Minotaur Art: 

Theseus Slaying Minotaur Bayre 1845

Pablo Picasso

Minotaur Greek Urn

Karn the Minotaur

Minotaur D&D 1st ed. 1976

©text William O'Connor 2014. All images used for educational and editorial purposes as per the Copyright Code of Fair Use.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dracopedia Chesley Awards

The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy artists (ASFA) has just nominated Dracopedia: The Great Dragons, for a 2013 Chesley Award for year's best interior illustration. 

This is a great honor, and hope you all will help vote for Dracopedia to Win!!



Monday, June 3, 2013

Bestiary Taxonomy

As the third Dracopedia book arrives on shelves I am very excited to introduce a whole new panoply of creatures into the Dracopedia Universe with Dracopedia:Bestiary.

As some fans have noted the taxonomy (Latin Classification names) are missing from the animals in this installment.  When I started the Bestiary my intention was to create a catalogue of completely  fictional creatures that either never lived or were extinct.  The range of creatures in the Bestiary exist in the wide range of the animal kingdom from mammals to  reptiles and invertebrates, making classification prohibitively complicated, and so I elected to not include the names.

The response to the absence of taxonomy has inspired me to enlist the help of you, the artists. I hope that as you read the Bestiary you might be inspired to share some of your ideas on the Latin Binomial Names of some of the species.  This is a difficult challenge, but I know with the creativity out there you can all come up with some exciting answers.

please share your Latin names to the Dracopedia Facebook page.

For reference on naming species see:

Binomial Names
Biological Classification
Lennaean Taxonmy

Thank you!


Friday, March 8, 2013

Winter Dragon Winners!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Winter Dragon Challenge.  The entries were all great and the solutions to the challenge were exciting.

I've conferred with the judges and we are happy to announce the winners!

1st place

Ashley Stewart

2nd Place

Piya Wannachaiwong


Congratulations and Great work to everyone!


©2013William O'Connor Studios/Dracopedia™

Monday, February 25, 2013

Winter Dragon Entries

Thank you to everyone who entered the 
 Dracopedia Winter Dragon Challenge!

I am so impressed by the range of imagination and styles from such a great group of artists!  Please enjoy this gallery and feel free to share your constructive thoughts on the designs.

Winners will be announced shortly.


William O'Connor

 Winter Dragon Gallery
click on individual images for larger versions.  Images are in no particular order.
*All copyrights are owned by the individual artists.  Reproduction in any form is prohibited without the artists permission.


Name: Andrew Prasetya

Name: Kevin Yap
Nationality: Malaysia
Medium: Digital Painting (Photoshop), 800x1000 pixels

Wishing for Snow
Graphite and Photos

Katharina Fedelheimer 


Brandon Davis

African American

Age 17

Pencil, Pen and Colored Markers


Dominick Critelli
Photoshop & Intuos 4 - 14x11



Name: Michaela Nelson
Nationality: American
Medium: Digital painting in Photoshop
Size: 782 pixels by 1000 pixels

Piya Wannachaiwong
Digital (14.33"x11.75")

Giovanni Panìco
Digital Painting
Image: 706 x 998


 Jacob Anderson
Size: 11 in. wide 12 in. tall (at full res) 
Size submitted: 884px by 1000px 
Medium: Photoshop CS5, Cintiq 22HD 
Links: (facebook illustration page) 
Twitter: @thejakeanderson


Name: Ashley Stewart
Nationality: United States
Medium: Ink and Digital
size: 10x8


Title: Black Ice Dragon
Age: 24 
Location: Detroit, MI USA 
Medium: Digital 
Size: 9 in x 12 in 


Elizabeth Hornberger



Name: Burton Taylor
Country: USA
Size: 15 x 20 inches
Medium: Oil on illustration board
Title: Birth of the Winter Winds


Cliff Gamble (American)

Acrylic on Illustration Board



Name: Amanda H. McNally
Nationality: USA
Medium: Digital using Pencil 0.4.4b and Wacom Intuos 3 Tablet
Size of Original Work: PNG file submitted as 1000x493 pixels

 Zachary Wojnar


Winter Dragon
Candra Hope
9x12" pastel on paper


Ngianhormua Yang
Illustrator + Designer + Life Long Learner

Seth Greenwald


Link to high res:

Name: Jessica Cheng

Medium: Digital

Size: 1000pixels x563pixels



Jim Luong
actual size: 4800x2000px

Victor Maury

Name: Crescent Crown Dragon

Medium: Photoshop

Age: 21

Nationality: French


Name: Jenna Kass
Nationality: American
Medium, size: Oil, 11"x16.5"


 Mandela Zvaleko Hall



Lauren Westlake
Digital Concept - 3 " x 2 " 


John Melton
Denver Colorado, USA

Photoshop, with sketch brainstorming in sketchbook pro.

The work is 977x943 pixels in size.

Ivan Dixon
United States

Digital (625 x 1000)


Paul Marquis


Digital (photoshop)

15" x 20" 300dpi

 Name of the piece: Winter Council

Name: André Castelo

Nationality: Brazil

Medium: Digital

Size: 760x1000

Name: Doug Hoppes
Nationality: United States
Medium: Oil Painting
Size of Work: 9 x 12 oil on canvas
Link to my website:


Emily Crowley
Oil on panel, 17" x 24"
please include link to my website,


Nick Deligaris
illustrator • 3D artist • graphic designer   |

©William O'Connor Studios/Dracopedia Project/ Dracopedia™