I conferred with my client, and we figured that since she needs these pics for a school project about European vs. Chinese dragons, a simple side view would suffice.
I went and looked real hard at Chinese dragons, like this one.
They’re long, snakey things. Temeraire is specifically described as having a frill under his chin and behind his head, like a mane. Chinese dragons have that, and it’s sort of like a lion’s, I guess.
So I churned out this sketch.
Kind of a long, snakey dragon with a mane and whiskers. And big wings, because the books make a point of telling you that he has 6 fingers in his wings. My client liked the sketch, so I started refining it.
Then I noticed something about the wings. They look just like the sails on a Chinese junk. Observe:
Count the poles in the mast. Six! Well, seven if you count the top one. Temeraire is a Chinese Junk! … dragon. Yeah.
Anyway, I started roughing in the colors, and here’s what it looks like so far:
I really want to make his ruff run all the way down his neck and under his belly, but alas, that’s not how Temeraire looks. I’m shading him all smooth-like before I add on his scales.