Introduction | Note from organizer

"Dragon's Lair" event idea popped into my head when someday I was watching and enjoying the masterpieces of John Howe, and his super great "Forging Dragons" artbook. Linking this idea with what we've already done in, fed me the courage I needed to organize this great event that I'm truly proud of. I don't consider this particular event that much of a "challenge", but a celebration of talent and passion of our great members and friends who form this Persian Art community, and a tribute to the amazing art of the Master. My very special thanks goes to John Howe, for being in this journey with me and help us do something that will last for years and years. It's almost impossible for me to thank him sufficiently, and I'm so glad that great artists of our community helped me with their great artworks.

Thanks to anyone who participated, the mission was to show the world what these great artists of Persia are capable of, and I'm so glad that we proved it one more time! And thanks to John again, for all the detailed comments and priceless quotes he noted for this event. There's so much to learn on this page, trust me, so much.

Amirhossein Erfani | Founder, Head Manager |




The legendary artist, John Howe was the judge of this big challenge. John Howe is best known for his work based on J. R. R. Tolkien's world, including the amazing Lord of the Rings, as well as other fantastic movies like Beowulf, The Hobbit, etc. (read more) It is indeed, a big indescribable honor for artists to have this opportunity to have their artworks considered and judged by the great John Howe. He has written this quote to the participants of this challenge :

"Convincing and inspiring fantasy art relies on two things: reaching outwards to capture exciting imagery from your wildest imagination, and reaching inwards to fill it with depth and meaning."


Section 1 | 2D Entries

Well, it wasn’t easy, but then I hardly expected it to be.
Immediately, after following the link to the contest page, I was impressed by just the thumbnails - a brilliant mini-gallery of variety and real inspiration.

Narrowing down a choice to three pieces proved extremely difficult, but here they are, not in any order of preference:

"I particularly loved this unusual representation as dragon of disembodiment, whether it is the human being assaulted by draconic or demonic forces, or those same forces within that he struggles to contain. The composition is unusual, the drawing is free and spontaneous; it could be fantasy, it could be science-fiction - at any rate it is remarkable and personal. Very striking."


"Absolutely loved the painterly quality of this piece, the rough rendering, the use of light and the understated grasp of draconic anatomy. It’s of the same quality as work by James Gurney and William Stout. Congratulations."


"What drew me to this one was the dynamic resolution of every design decision made, from small details to the overall colour scheme. The game of making contrast and atmospheric perspective function in an image that is predominantly monochromatic is never easy. As well, it has a contained energy that works very well visually. With a bit more sky, it would make the perfect book cover, the kind that draws people across the shop to pick it up. Great work, keep it up."


I was relieved to be offered an “Honorable Mentions Category” of five pieces, which allowed me to comment on those pieces I had to remove from the three winners with much regret. Here they are, once again, in no particular order. (I hope the artists will not mind if I accompany each observation with a well-meant and short critique of the aspects that I felt could be improved upon.)


"Particularly liked the contrasts in this picture, which reminded me of those amazing images of volcanic eruptions near the sea, with the opposition of water and fire. (I also loved the flames on the sword.) I regretted that more attention wasn’t paid to the water itself, and to the architecture, which would have added a great deal. On the other hand, I admire the research and the preliminary studies."


"This is a striking piece of work, and a very powerful composition, with a firm grasp of lighting effects and pictorial drama. With such a powerful foreground figure, landscapes are often reduced to filling in the spaces left visible, but, if you remove the dragon from this piece, you have a coherent landscape in every way. I regretted only that the anatomy was not better resolved, especially in the wings."


"I really love this piece, which has a striking nightmare quality, with a landscape somehow suggestive of the Greek underworld and Ursula K. LeGuin. It is mysterious and odd, a true dream-vision. My only regret is that the crepuscular light is not better exploited and used to deepen the atmosphere."


"This is a very professional piece, of a quality high enough to be used in video games or Magic cards. The style is free and bold, the preparatory work shows a solid grasp of anatomy and a sure hand. My only regret: that the painterly style leaves all the elements on the same level, fighting against a sense of depth in the image."


"This is the kind of work that I would easily see on the cover of a video game or a boardgame, it has a dynamic energy that remains evident despite a highly detailed rendering. The attention to detail is truly commendable; it wouldn’t be at all out of place in the best artwork of World of Warcraft. My only regret – and it is a very small one, which is shared by a number of piece: that the elements which are not shown in the image have not been entirely thought out."


More entries : (See all entries here)


"with the horde of dragons flying out of the volcano, is a great piece of work as well (I quite like the dragon-headed rock, it’s an idea that could be explored further, as there must be a story behind it). "
"I loved the sky and sparks in this artwork, along with the nightmare quality of the piece."
"Enjoyed the cross-genre aspects in this artwork (dragons and science-fiction don’t always cohabit comfortably)."
"I very much liked the setting, landscapes and atmosphere in this artwork, this especially has a wonderful landscape."


"This artwork is wonderfully ragged and dynamic."
"This artwork would be perfect as concept art for a Pixar feature."
"I very much liked the setting, landscapes and atmosphere in this artwork."
"I admired the diversity and inventiveness of the preliminary sketches in this artwork. (much of it could happily be featured in published books)."


"I admired the diversity and inventiveness of the preliminary sketches in this artwork."
"This artwork would have been in the honorable mentions if there has been room for 6, the preliminary sketches are outstanding."
"This artwork have something of the poetic modernity and humour that reminds me of the cartoon artist Vaughn Bodé at his best."
"This would have been in the Honorable Mentions if only there had been more space. It’s also delightful to see someone using traditional materials, I dare say."



Now that I’ve gone through them all, and enlarged the jpegs to peer at every detail, I’m struck by the incredible diversity of approach. I find myself wondering who all these artists are, what their hopes and visions are, how they hope to share those visions with their public. It’s not possible to judge the work of any person by looking at only one image, but I do wish each and every one the best  for the future. Thank you for participating, it’s a privilege to see so much energy invested, so much thought and research and discipline, so much inspiration. Thank you all, I wish you the very best in all you do.


Section 2 | 3D Entries


Now on to the 3D artwork, an area in which I’m most interested, especially as it’s beyond my competence. I have, however, been working closely with a lot of professional 3D artists lately, so hopefully I’ll be able to make informed choices.

Here are my first three choices, once again, in no particular order. (They were quite hard to make, and at least two of the honourable mentions could have been in the first category.) :


"I chose this one for the truly original design. It is very typical of an initial design concept that would be taken to design meetings, refined, modified, different poses, textures and colours applied, before a final concept is chosen. It’s unusual, and really made me look twice when I first saw it."


"This is simply a great design, and an original interpretation of an ancient myth."


"I chose this one because of the magnificent characterization and the stunning silhouette, as well as the unusual texturing. (A small word of advice: don’t make wing edges all ragged and put holes in wings, physiologically, it’s very bad news for winged creatures.)"

There are two more pieces that could just as easily have been amongst the three winners, so they more than deserve honourable mentions:

"Very professional, well-designed and beautifully rendered."


"Again, very professional, well-designed and beautifully rendered."


"I think this one deserves an honourable mention as well, purely because it is unconventional and quirky, and I have the feeling that the artist (whoever he or she is) has what it takes to make personal expression a profession."

More entries : (See all entries here)

"I loved the textures and rendering on this artwork. could also happily be in the honourable mentions, it’s a very professional piece of work."
"This artwork is not far from the honourable mentions as well, for the original concept. "
"I very much liked the fabulous wings on this artwork."
"This could also have been among the honourable mentions, the development work is very inspiring.


"I very much liked this artwork, once again because it is an original idea."
"Very well done and well rendered. "
"I loved the textures and rendering on this artwork."
"And last but far from least, I was reassured to see an actual sculpture in the midst of all these 3D pixels.  My only regret is that there is only the head and not the body as well."


Following both competitions, 2D and 3D, I have gone back and read all the accompanying texts and notes, and have learned a thing or two about dragons that I didn’t know. (I’m less familiar with eastern dragons than with the western ones.) Thanks to all of those who included those insights along with their artwork, I have taken notes of my own on a few Persian dragons, and hopefully will have the time to do a few sketches of my own some day.



(Note from organizer) - A series of Drawing, Digital Painting and Sculpting were held by the help of a great set of artists in three different cities at the same time : Tehran, Karaj and Mashhad. Click on the image for a brief reportage of these sessions.

* Special thanks to Soheil Danesh Eshraghi, Majid Smiley, Ghassem Farhany, Matin Izadi, Arash Radkia, Aria Saffarzadegan, Farhad Nojoumi, Omid Moradi, Saeed Ramezani, Saeed Jalabi, Hamed Hafezieh, Mahmoud Azadnia, Hamed Katebi and everyone else who helped these workshops happen.


Final Note

In closing, I would like to thank the organizers and most especially the participants. A contest can never represent the whole work of an artist, it is only one small performance in a symphony of colour and form that extends over many decades. What I did have the pleasure of seeing, though, is a temporary assemblage of talented individuals, who are doing, or hoping to do, what they love best: creating and sharing their vision of the world through fantasy art. (I’m not going to get started on the importance of fantasy art, not only because this is hardly the place to do so, but because I have trouble stopping.) It is a choice, like any artistic choice, that is difficult to make because it means you are willing to define who you are through your art. It also means that you love telling stories. And the truly important thing is the stories we tell.

So, thank you all for sharing your work, and thank you to the organizers for making the contest possible. I wish you all much success and happiness.

With best wishes,

John Howe
Wellington, New Zealand, August 6, 2012


"Eye of the Blue Dragon" Copyright 2002 JOHN HOWE - All Rights Reserved

All rights of artworks on this page are reserved for their artists. Event rights reserved for Community.




Copyright © 2012 - - All rights reserved

godaddy web stats