Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Legacy Department

Digital Production Arts

Committee Member

Dr. Jerry Tessendorf, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Brian Malloy

Committee Member

David Donar


This thesis is a look at the design and implementation of a quadrupedal dragon, as specified by the needs of the short film Dragonslayer. It looks at the modeling of the three dimensional creature from artistic and technical points of view. The dragon is a worldwide fantasy and cultural icon, and this thesis focuses on the creation of one grounded in the western fantasy of the middle ages. The western dragons have four legs, a pair of wings, horns, and a relatively stout body in comparison to the eastern dragons, which more closely resemble serpents and possess antlers instead of horns. The distinction of the dragon as being quadrupedal is significant, since many rigs or models in industry use a wyvern, "bipedal dragon," model instead. A wyvern is a much simpler design and very closely resembles the actual anatomy of a bat. Because the quadrupedal dragon is a creature that does not exist or have comparable anatomy to any known animals on Earth, its anatomy was based on a combination of real animal physiology and some educated inferences to fill in any anatomical weaknesses. Since the dragon is such a recognized character from mythos, it is important that this dragon be an anatomically sound creature that does little to damage the suspended disbelief of a viewer. The dragon is also rigged to be versatile, machine efficient, and intuitively manipulated by an animator for use in film, video games, television, or even academic exercises.