Dragons

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
I have a hard time deciding which Glaurung I like most...

So this is Tolkien's drawing:

I personally like this version by Ted Nasmith:

I think it has the right lizardy look. Maybe it could be a little bit more, I don't know, impressive?
I grew up with this picture of Glaurung (by Swedish artist Inger Edelfeldt) and I kind of like it because it's more a lizard than a typical dragon - but I think he's too fat: upload_2017-9-28_14-7-50.jpeg
The same goes for this version by John Howe. It's a great picture in many ways but I personally think Glaurung looks too much like a toad: upload_2017-9-28_14-9-34.jpeg
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
This one, on the other hand, by Kip Rasmussen, is too thin imho and looks almost undead:

Here is one that's again a bit on the fat side, but has a great lizardy look (by Francesc Camos):


It's hard to see but I think he is a bit golden? Maybe too little.
 
Last edited:

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
The same goes for this version by John Howe. It's a great picture in many ways but I personally think Glaurung looks too much like a toad:
Yeah... spikes and horns are fine, but I'm not keen on giving him a toad-face, or making him too fat.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
That would make sense. He doesn't fly and seems to be more of a nordic 'lindorm'/lindworm dragon.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
In some way i would like to have glaurung a mix if a serpentbhead and a human face - and i would like this face to be the same as the one of the actor who plays melkor! ...

But not in a way that departs too much from tolkiens own illustrations... I'd like to stay close to them but add a little bit if detail here and there..


The bulky glaurung... I would like that look for some of the lesser dragons, maybe the beast of gondolin.
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
It's interesting how the Chinese, Norse, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Greek dragons, in appearance, are all basically just snakes with legs tacked on, plus some culture-specific ornaments like antlers and fur (Chinese), wings (Greek, Egyptian), horns (Mesopotamian), or human legs or heads (Egyptian). The underlying concept is always a snake. That's how I see all the Worms of the North, even the flying ones like Smaug.

The wood carving Marielle posted seems to have a wolf's head, with ears and fur, which reminds me also of some East European dragons. Which is interesting because Tolkien gave wolf or cat ears to both Glaurung and Smaug (though no fur).
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
This is also interesting (Grenadier, 'Oriental Dragon'):

I found this picture on an Italian site discussing the look of Glaurung and the fact that Tolkien's descriptions and picture was so similar to the oriental dragons.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
True. Tolkiens dragons come from norse myth, but their look in his illustrations is far closer to many eastern dragons..
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Norse dragons look very similar to Chinese dragons. So do Greek, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian dragons.

Tolkien's have wolf ears, very small horns instead of huge antlers, and no fur nor fiery pearls, so they are closer to Norse dragons than Chinese dragons. The shape of the snout is the only thing on Tolkien's Glaurung that looks even a little Chinese to me.
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
The thing I like least about most (all?) depictions of Chinese dragons is the way they bend their bodies, it looks like they fly without wings, almost. I actually like their look (and especially the fact that they're actually golden which no other dragons are unless we're talking about the boring D&D dragons) but I want Glaurung to feel heavier.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
hmm... greek dragons are more water-creatures, norse-dragons to me always had a more wolf-like or predator-like style, weren't mesopotamian Dragons taller, like zebras or unicorns? I don't have anything for egyptian dragons in mind... .
I might be wrong but i have the impression that chinese dragons are more bulky while japanese dragons are more... sophisticated or maybe just more slender.

Best of all i know celtic dragons who are weird, they are either cerberus-like Tarasques, ram-horned serpents or more or less hippokamps.

I haven't seen a JRRT Illustration of a horned dragon... maybe glaurung does have some small horns, but i think they are more like small spikes. Glaurung is weird at all... he's got a more wolfish head and a rather insectoid, segmented body:


Tolkiens other Dragons, winged or not, are also more slender... but Smaug also has a bit wolfish features..
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
Greek and Chinese dragons seem to be mostly associated with water instead of fire. What I mean is their physical appearance in all those cultures basically a giant snake, rather than a crocodile or dinosaur or even lizard. (Or 3-headed wolf-snake-lizard, like the Gorynych.) Egyptian dragons and Mesopotamian sirrush have longer legs that make them taller, but they're connected (in an anatomically implausible way) to a snake body. Egyptian dragons seem to be associated with both water and fire (as some Chinese dragons maybe are??) while the Norse dragons seem to be all about fire, like Morgoth's dragons.*

The way a snakey dragon can coil is best illustrated by the way East Asian dragons are drawn, in a more realistic modern style. Although some Greek dragons were painted curling themselves in loops, that looks kinda weird to me.

Glaurung is illustrated like a fattish segmented lizard, but described in the story of Turin as having coils. So, yay inconsistency!:confused:

Maybe Glaurung's body was bred or mutated from a lizard, and for the later Dragons snake and finally bat parts were mixed in. Maybe Smaug even has bat ears, not wolf ears...


*Except cold-drakes. It isn't clear to me if those are merely "cold" like cold-blooded lizards, without fiery breath or blood, or if they actually have frost-breath or some other frost power.
 
Last edited:

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I believe cold drake just means they can't breathe fire...

so we do have
-winged fire drakes
-winged cold drakes
-fire worms
-cold worms

does Worm include dragons with snake body but four feet? I think it does... but we still have both varieties, those with serpentine body and small feet and those without feet , do we?

Of all Dragons Tolkien painted Glaurung looks the most weird and has the most creatures thrown in... maybe because he's the archfather of all other varieties? To me the insect-element makes him seem even more creepy and disgusting by the way... i think we should keep that!

what do i mean by human-serpent-face

well more humanoid than this:dragons.jpg

but more animal-like than most of these:
hybrids.jpg

though of the latter i like some elements here and there... because the more human-look makes them more scary...
 

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
I thought they all had feet, and "worm/wyrm/wurm/orm" is just an archaic English word for dragon. Glaurung the Father of Dragons has feet, and removing them from any of the later breeds seems like a downgrade. I'd guess there are 4 kinds:

  • Uruloki (Fire-Drakes, like Glaurung -- have poisonous fiery blood)
  • Cold-drakes (none named -- have poisonous but non-fiery blood)
  • Winged fire-breathing dragons (like Smaug and Ancalagon -- maybe there are degrees of how fiery their blood is, since in Smaug's time (or was it after his death?) none had fire hot enough to melt a greater Ring of Power)
  • winged cold-drakes (none named)

Cold-drakes seem like a step down from the fiery dragons -- like Morgoth couldn't manage to keep the fire going after several generations of degeneration.



I just noticed that as drawn by JRRT, Glaurung's tongue is not forked, while Smaug's is triple-forked. Weird.
 
Last edited:

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I vote for *not* Thulsa Doom. There are positive aspects of the Conan the Barbarian film, but the special effects/creatures/costumes are not one of them.

And here's a Babylonian dragon from the Ishtar gate:



The legs are...not realistically attached to the body, so not much to go on there.


Bearded dragon lizards are not a bad starting point; I think they have good proportions. And looking at them reminds you that you need to give dragons scaly eyelashes.







Then there are these guys. South African Sungazer lizards. Now, they can't be bred in captivity, so it's a terrible idea to keep them as pets, but we can totally use them to design a dragon, if we want to.







 
Last edited:

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
The sungazer sort of has that "segmented" look going on.

And the Babylonian Sirrush is way less snake-shaped than I thought. Haerangil is right, it's nearly zebra-shaped.

Should Glaurung have visible glands for the slime and venom to come out of (like Garland's painting) or should the slime just be all over his belly and of an unspecified origin? Since TV can't convey odors, which look would be more disgusting and loathesome? I feel like pulsating glands would be more vile.
 
Last edited:
Top