The Batragon - part bat, part dragon
a digital collage lesson

©2004 - 2007 by aisling d'art

The Batragon - click to see larger

How to create a Batragon - or any other mixed-images creature

For this image--created for the Bestiary Deck exchange--I used the Dover book, "Old-Fashioned Animal Cuts" (out-of-print in 2007) and Adobe Photoshop.

I knew that I wanted a beast that would mix elements of a bat and a dragon. I was also inspired by photos of a very cute pet dragon owned by a friend.

First, I collected images. The foundation was the bat image from page 19 of this book:

Next, I selected a head for him. I used the lizard head from page 24.

I simply used the outline tool (lasso) to cut the head from the original image, adjust the size, and paste it over the bat head.

Next, I selected other body parts to add. These included the back from a spiny lizard,

and the tail of a fish,

In both cases, I selected the white part of the image, inversed the selection, and copied just what remained. This allowed some of the original bat texturing to show through, so I could blend the attachments carefully by selecting an area and then reducing the contrast slightly.

To achieve the tail-wrapped-around-the-branch effect, I flattened the image, selected the area above the branch, and cut it. I flipped it with the Transform tool in the Edit menu.

Finally, I made a new layer of just the body-plus-branch part of the image (without the tale) and placed it on top of the tail layer, to achieve the sequence so that the tail receded.

Then, I flattened the layers again.

To prepare the image for collage, I created a name using MicroSoft Word, and printed it. I hand-trimmed the Batragon image and the name text, and used Rollataq to apply it to torn reproduction newspaper from the Civil War. I used a black rollerball pen and a zero point Rapidograph (Koh-i-Noor) to add more outlining to the areas I wanted to emphasize, to create depth in the image.

Finally, I added it to the collage on canvasboard that I'd already started. I used Golden Gel Medium (soft, gloss) as the adhesive. Yes, it buckles a bit, but I like the effect.

Then I embellished the collage, using gold leaf in various tints, plus some golden irridescent glitter powder. These sometimes scanned a bit red in the image.

If you scroll back to the top of this page and click on the small finished image, you can see the results.

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