Monday, May 25, 2099

Welcome to The Dracopedia Project

Welcome!  The Dracopedia Project is an ongoing site where I will be sharing the latest info, pics, news and videos about the bestselling book series Dracopedia along with a host of dragon related artwork.  Be sure to follow along to get all the latest information and be a part of the Dracopedia community.



Everything you ever wanted to know about dragons, but were afraid to find out!
Fantasy artists can now breathe easier thanks to this less perilous alternative to drawing dragons from life. Dracopedia offers you safe, easy access to the world's most prominent dragon species, from tiny, innocuous feydragons to the ferocious wyvern.
For years, artist William O'Connor has traveled the globe, studying dragons in their natural environments. His findings, field notes and sketches have been compiled for the first time into this single, beautifully illustrated compendium--a natural and cultural history of the beasts as well as a step-by-step drawing workshop.
Details of the anatomy, behavior, habitats and legends of 13 major dragon families
Heavily illustrated with field sketches, anatomical studies and gesture drawings
Shows the start-to-finish creation of 13 striking paintings, illustrating key concepts that apply to every medium
Dragon demonstrations include: amphiptere, Arctic dragon, Asian dragon, basilisk, coatyl, dragon, dragonette, drake, feydragon, hydra, sea orc, wyrm, wyvern
Dragons have terrorized and delighted humans for centuries--continue the tradition with Dracopedia. It's packed with inspiration for putting "fierce" into your fantasy art, as well as the facts to keep your dragons true to life.

Dracopedia: The Great Dragons
An Artist's Field Guide to the World's Great Dragons!
Creatures of great beauty and terrible ferocity, dragons have been featured and revered for centuries. Of the thousand-plus species still in existence, none have inspired more folklore and artistic awe than the eight species of Great Dragons. Within these pages, these fire-breathing monsters of legend - the rock stars of the dragon world - come to life through the work of artist and adventurer William O'Connor.
Not since the original Dracopedia has there been such a beautifully illustrated and meticulously researched guide on the subject, with special focus on the distinctive features of each species - from the broad horns of the Icelandic white dragon to the elaborate neck frills of the Ligurian gray. Based on the author's expeditions to sanctuaries around the globe and consults with prominent regional experts, Dracopedia The Great Dragons presents never-before assembled facts and instruction to help you capture the heart-beating grandeur of these magnificent monsters. Inside, find everything you need to know to capture the essence of your favorite dragons through your artwork:
Learn about the habits, anatomy and natural history of 8 fierce and fantastic dragons
Each profile features sketches, drawings and start-to-finish creation of a stunning artwork, illustrating key concepts that apply to any medium
Discover special techniques for achieving dramatic lighting effects, powerful compositions and the incredible sculptural forms and textures of dragons
Includes a gallery of dragons and a foldout comparison poster

Dracopedia:The Bestiary
Dracopedia: The Bestiary
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.

Dracopedia, Dracopedia:The Great Dragons, Dracopedia:The Bestiary are ©&™ William O'Connor and William O'Connor Studios

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mythical Beast: Enfield

by William O'Connor


The Enfield is an extremely rare animal that was once seen on the coat of arms in medieval europe consisting of the combination of a raptor and a fox.  Since the usage of the Enfield was uncommon and restricted to north western Europe it is believed that this animal had a very limited range before going extinct some time around the 16th century.

Being the size and having the range of a red fox it would be assumed that its habitat and diet was similar.  As fox hunting and encroachment by other predators would have strained an already rare animal it is assumed that this creature died out from limited resources but was still regarded highly for its agility and precise hunting skills.  Kept as pets in menageries it must have been an extremely beautiful creature.

To view more mythical creatures from William O'Connor's Dracopedia The Bestiary visit:

A Gallery of Enfield art from The Bestiary by William O'Connor

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dragon Interview on NPR with William O'Connor

Interview with William O'Connor at WNPR

Click the link below to listen to author/ artist William O'Connor on WNPR radio talk about the history and cultural legacy of the world of dragons.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dragon of the Month: Lernaen Hydra

Lernaen Hydra

Hydrus lernaeus 
Recognition: Snake body with multiple necks and heads.
Habitat: Mediterranean seas, marshes and lakes
Classification: Draco/Hydradracoforme/
Hydridae/Hydrus/ H. lernaeus


The Lernaen Hydra is one of the most famous species in the dragon class. Once quite common along the Mediterranean sea coasts and rivers, today the Lernaen Hydra is a rare find. Similar to other species in the Hydra family the Lernaen Hydra possesses multiple heads with which it uses to hunt for its prey along the river beds and lake sides. Primarily feeding on small rodents, fish and eels the Lernaen Hydra is usually not a threat to the human populations nearby. However its poisonous bite can kill a man if consecutive bites are suffered. Because of a historic fear of all dragons the Lernaen Hydra has been hunted extensively throughout the centuries leaving their populations greatly decreased.

The most famous accounts of the Lernaen Hydra is that depicted in the classical Greek legend of Hercules, who traveled to Lake Lernae in Greece to slay a specimen that lived there. This legend has produced a large number of works of art depicting the encounter.  A secondary legend of Hercules has the hero battling a one hundred headed hydra named Ladon.

The Lernaen Hydra
3rdC bc. Greek

The Lernaen Hydra
2nd Roman Mosaic

Hercules and The Hydra
Gustave Moreau

To view a selection from the book or purchase Dracopedia visit:

©2009-2017William O'Connor Studios.  Dracopedia is © & ™ William O'Connor and William O'Connor Studios.
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Dragon of the Month: Icelandic White Dragon

Great Icelandic White Dragon
Dracorexus  rekjavikus

Size: 50'
Wingspan: 75'
Recognition: Quadrapedal body, with long tail and broad wings. Markings: vary by season.
Habitat: Maritime cliffs of Iceland
Classification: Draco/Aerodraciforme/Dracorexidae/Dracorexus/D. rekjavikus

The White Dragon of Iceland was long considered to be a creature of mythology. In the medieval Welsh epic The Mabinogion, an invading White Dragon battles a Welsh Red Dragon, ravaging the kingdom in their wrath. This encounter is the earliest known account of the White Dragon until the 17th Century when the White Dragon of Iceland was documented by early explorers and naturalists.

The White Dragon makes its home in the high cliffs of Iceland overlooking the northern Atlantic ocean. Like other members of the Dracorexidae family this powerful dragon can grow to enormous sizes in excess of 75' wingspans. Using the high cliffs and strong ocean winds the White Dragon can soar for long periods of time surveying its territory which it will guard voraciously. The White Dragon feeds primarily on large sea animals, such as seals, small whales and fish. The camouflage abilities of the Icelandic dragon are unique to its species, ranging in color from pure white to mottled browns and grays. These changes are similar to other arctic animals such as the arctic fox, and range widely from summer to winter. Making lairs in the high cliffs near the ocean the White Dragon will hibernate through the winter awakening in the spring to court and mate. Once a female White Dragon has chosen a male and the eggs are laid, the male will abandon his family and search for a new territory. 

It is possible that the rare encounter mentioned in the Mabinogion was the instance of a White Dragon migrating from its home in Iceland to the cliffs of Wales. Today there are very few specimens of White Dragons still alive. Like all of the Great Dragons, they are an endangered and protected animal, with their native habitats on the shores of Iceland kept as preserves. Visitors to Rekjavik Iceland often enjoy Dragon spotting cruises to try to catch a glimpse of this powerful and majestic animal in its natural environment.

To view a selection from the book or purchase Dracopedia visit:

©William O'Connor/William O'Connor Studios/Dracopedia:A Guide to Drawing the Dragons of the World/The Dracopedia Project. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dragon of the Month: Fafnir

William O'Connor

Arthur Rackham.  "Fafnir and Sigurd"

For thousands of years dragons have fueled the imaginations of artists and writers all over the world.  The primeval fear, awe and respect that we humans have had for these creatures has written them into the very fabric of our cultures, with myths legends and fables about dragons filling hundreds of volumes.  Perhaps nowhere in the world was the legend of the dragon more iconic than in the legend of Sigurd and Fafnir.

Fafnir was not a true dragon but was in fact a dwarf who was transformed by greed into a dragon killing his father Hreidmar, and stealing the golden horde for himself.  Sigurd, the son of Sigmund is enlisted by Fafnir's brother Regin to take the legendary sword Gram, hunt down Fafnir and slay him.  Once Sigurd encounters Fafnir he realizes that the dragon is too powerful to fight and so he digs a pit outside the dragon's lair and hides inside.  When Fafnir leaves his cave to find Sigurd, he steps over the pit and from below Sigurd thrusts the sword Gram upward and impales the dragon, killing him.

This tale is a classic story of Germanic dragon lore and establishes one of the best stories that influences dragon stories for hundreds of years, where the hero is unable to vanquish the dragon through strength of arms and must use cunning and deception.  Pieces of the Sigurd and Fafnir tale are seen again in the JRR depiction of Smaug in The Hobbit.  

Below are some historical examples of art of Fafnir...



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Python Dragon Time Lapse Sketch

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