By Justin and Annie Stegg Gerard

Today I’d like to share with you some preliminary concepts for 2 paintings from the series, A Plague of Dragons. You can check out the previous post here.  The series focuses heavily on medieval pastoral landscapes, (albeit, landscapes with a heavy dose of dragon added in…)

The project began as a simple theme that I planned to base my yearly sketchbook around this year but has since spiraled out into something larger that involves a great deal more color work than I usually do. Many of the images are collaborations that are being painted in oils by both myself and my wife, Annie.

In this post I will be sharing a few of the preproduction sketches and drawings that Annie and I produced while we went about designing the main images for the series. In the next post we will be sharing the color work and final products, all of which will be making their debut at DragonCon this year in Atlanta.

All the images begin as tiny scribbles, most of them made in a battered, bitten and coffee-stained little sketchbook which is my constant companion when I am watching our little toddlers. Often I do a page of these before moving on to doing small sketches. All of this is just getting my ideas down on paper.  After this I share these little concepts with Annie and she will do studies for the figures. This helps us work out what the emotional notes are for a scene.


These then get passed back and forth as we work out the scene. And this is an interesting challenge for us. We will talk about an idea for an image, and as we describe our ideas for it to each other, we usually find that we agree exactly on what it should look like. But then when we both draw our versions of that idea we are always surprised at how different they actually were in our heads. Perhaps this is part of being a visual person; words just aren’t sufficient to explain our feelings, which is why we turned to art in the first place.

So as we work on our ideas, there is a lot of back and forth in the development of these images. One of us will draw a figure and the other will draw their response to it by drawing what is going on around them in the scene. Because of this lot of art gets left on the cutting room floor as we try and figure out what is best for the scene.

In the end we end up collaging our drawings all together in a big overlaid image made up of the best designs.  After we finish the drawings, we transfer them down to panel to paint.

We will be sharing the painting process and final images in the next post!