Dragon Postal Service: Wasteland Express
Entry for the CharacterDesignChallenge January 2024

The monthly Character Design Challenge hosted by Character Design Quarterly is a great opportunity for Character Designers, Concept Artists and Illustrators to share their vision of a specific theme with as well with a supportive online community of likeminded artists as well as a broader audience. With January's theme being "Dragon Postal Service", I was literally on fire on the prospect of designing weird and fun dragons that diverge from the classic european and asian dragons and took my inspiration by looking at real life lizards, amphibians, birds and dinosaurs (and other random things my assosciation brought up). I started exploring different dragon designs, based on the regions they are employed in and the natural hazards they have to overcome.  After a quick brainstorming session, I had to decide between three favorites: The Steaming Pockback is a feathered dragon whose inner fire burns so hot it even has to release a portion of it's heat through the prominent pores on it's back, allowing the Pockback to prevail in arctic climates. His unusual method of flight bases on sealing his pores and inflating his body through the hot air amassing inside, floating though the polar skies like a hot air balloon.
A little insight in my process: Wild and chaotic brainstorming and rough, commented sketches
The Snapsac Rooftop Jumper is an agile dragon who evolved from a flying scavenger to a feared hunter and sprinter long time ago. With the advance of civilization over the millennia, the Rooftop Jumper traded it's native rugged plains for the urban mazes of humankinds evolving cities. Falling back to it's scavenging heritage due to the abundance of digestible matter, yet retaining it's marvelous speed and jumping abilities makes the Rooftop Jumper the ideal mount for the big cities' postal services. The pelican-like sacs attached to the dragon's maw proves ideal for storing letters and smaller parcels as well as the odd unlucky pidgeon that crosses the Snapsac's way.
Finally, I decided for the Bläutank Emberbelly, mostly because I loved the composition of my thumbnail and I could deliver it's story in one picture (which would have been more difficult with the other two). Starting with the idea of an armored transport, I quickly came to the horned lizard as a reptilian equivalent, naturally located in a barren wasteland which I of course had to fill with raiders and bandits so the postal service had a reason to take respective measures of protection. The signpost, made of an unlucky raider or one of their equally unlucky victims, simultaneously serves as a mailbox for said outlaws (mostly dunning letters).
The Bläutank's eponymous blue tongue is largely a design choice, drawing the focus back to the dragon's head through complementary contrast but also referring to real world's Blue-tongued Skink.
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