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Dragon Animation
By Kim Lance, contributor to

Fire breathing dragons have been the subject of artwork for centuries. When the ability to create animated images was developed animators were finally able to give life to all sorts of imaginative animated dragons. From films and television shows to computer-animated video games, dragon animations have continually become more detailed and elaborate, thus more popular and exciting.

Dragon Animation in Video Games
Dragon animations can be seen in all sorts of video and computer games, particularly in role-playing games. Not only are there several hugely popular games featuring dragons such as Dungeons & Dragons that have been around for years, but also new games pop up all the time with dragon characters or elaborate battles against dragons. Even one of the first animated dragon games, Dragon’s Lair, has, with the advancement of animation technology, been recreated into Dragon’s Lair 3-D: Return to the Lair for PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox, PC and Macintosh, proving that dragon animation in video games will continue to be a popular theme for quite some time.

Dragon Animations for Movies
Another area where dragon animation has been allowed to flourish is in animated and partially animated films. Dragon animations have been prominently featured in several popular animated films with perhaps one of the earliest dragon animations appearing in Disney’s popular 1959 animated film classic Sleeping Beauty. In Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent (the evil sorceress that has been casting spells on Aurora and Prince Phillip) turns herself into a frightening black and purple fire-breathing dragon. The animators of this dragon did an excellent job at creating a terrifying creature to frighten and battle the prince in his quest to awaken his Sleeping Beauty.

While the dragon animation in Sleeping Beauty is meant to frighten the audience, several animated dragons in films are made to be somewhat friendly in nature. A perfect example of a friendly looking dragon animation can be seen in the 1977 film Pete’s Dragon. The lovable dragon, Elliot, is animated with features that counter the expected dragon appearance. Rather than the traditional, dark, serpent-like dragon animations, Elliot is bright green with pink hair and a friendly face.

Another example of a friendly animated dragon is in Disney’s 1998 film Mulan. The dragon Mushu is not only voiced by comedian Eddie Murphy, he is also given a comical and friendly manner because of the way he was drafted and animated. The dragon animations of Mushu turn a normally scary creature into a smaller, funnier, brighter sort of fantasy animal.

The animation artists for Shrek did an excellent job of combining some of the traditional fearsome characteristics of animated dragons with friendly dragon features. Although the dragon is pink (not typically a frightening color) she is still a foreboding creature in the beginning of the film, breathing fire and towering over Shrek and Donkey. But, as soon as the dragon becomes love-struck, the dragon animation begins to alter, emphasizing the friendly facial features such as long feminine eyelashes and big loving eyes.

With the advent and development of animation technologies, almost anything we can create in our imagination can be turned into a moving, interacting creature. Whether it is a movie, television show, or video game, animation is a fantastic way to make fantasy creatures come to life.


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