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Dragon's-Eye View
By Jon Schindehette, Illustration by Drew Sheneman

J ames Wyatt took on a number of the winged creatures that reside in Dungeons & Dragons in his Wandering Monster article. One of the creatures that he mentioned is slated for visual design review for the next concept push. For me, that creates a perfect opportunity to have a chat with all of you.

The hippogriff is a pretty commonplace critter in both real world mythology and fantasy mythos. The basic idea tends to be pretty similar—a half horse/half eagle or half horse/half griffin visual design is the basis for the majority of the images out there. I don’t think anyone within these walls is planning to do something outside of that box, but that doesn’t mean we have no questions to answer even with such a narrow set of visual design parameters.

Is the creature . . .

. . . the front half of an eagle and the back half of a horse?

. . . the head and body of a horse, and the beak, talons, and wings of an eagle?

. . . a more random collection of horse and eagle bits?

Or do you cast aside the eagle for a griffin?

I think all the visual depictions out there have some merit, though the variant that swaps out a canary for the eagle portion does seem a little less noble to me.

Personally, I think I like to take clues from the legendary griffin for the visual development template. The griffin had a body, tail, and back legs of a lion, and the head, wings, and front “feet” of an eagle. There are all kinds of great depictions of the griffin throughout history. Some of my favorites come from sources other than the European cultural sphere that folks might think of when thinking about griffin. If you want to get a fresh perspective, go check out some of the old Islamic interpretations of the griffon—they are a lot of fun and have a nice stylistic look to what we normally think about griffins.

Anyway, back to this article . . .

If we use the griffin as a template and then just swap out horse for lion, we end up with this:

A hippogriff has a body, tail, and back legs of a lion, and the head, wings, and front “feet” of an eagle.

Is this something that we can all live with? Even if we are all in agreement, which might be hoping for too much considering the number of folks that read and participate with this article, there’s always some room for refinement. For example, if we all decide that an eagle is the best avenue for part of the visual creature design, then we have to narrow down the scope of what an eagle looks like. Much like the visual example I used of the flower, if I say “eagle” to a bunch of folks, I might get back a lot of different ideas of what an eagle looks like.

And if we add in the fantasy vibe, similar to the drawing that Daren Bader did in the top banner, we can get even more interesting eagle designs. So, my question to you is simple:

Where do you stand on the visual design of the hippogriff?

What type of mix and match style do you favor?

Is there a specific type of eagle that says “hippogriff” to you, or do you favor the horse head with an eagle beak?

What’s your preferred breed/look of horse to use for the genetic splicing?

Is there a depiction out there that really says “hippogriff” to you?

I’m itching to hear your thoughts and opinions to all of these questions. Remember, your feedback and opinions will help inform us as we go into the next phase of world concepting. So spread the word, and let your voices be heard!

Against the Slave Lords Contest Update

Recently, we launched a fun little contest that is associated with the Against the Slave Lords premium A-Series compilation.

Although it was never our intention to replace the art or change the adventure, I was hoping that we could find a way to give a high five to all those folks out there who have played through these iconic adventures. While looking at some of the sketchbooks and programs I’ve brought home for conventions and events this past year, I noted that a lot of my favorite artists doodled fun little drawings in them. It made it very personal and helped trigger a lot of memories.

It was this thought that made me come up the idea of the art contest. What if we dedicated a few pages in the back of the book for fans, of all skill levels, to add in their own personal doodles, drawings, and sketches to the book? You know, to be immortalized in a small way in an iconic book. It sounded like a lot of fun to me. Nothing serious and hard core. Nothing that would change the content of the book, but would add a few pages of whimsy and perhaps some humor . . . kind of like those drawings your best friend in high school did in your yearbook or in your Dungeon Master’s Guide.

So bring on your sketches, drawings, and doodles, and have some fun with us as we commemorate this classic adventure series. Who knows, there might even be a surprise for the folks who have pieces chosen for inclusion.

For more about the A-series art contest, visit our contest page. We also have a gallery with some of the original art available now, so take a tour!

Jon Schindehette
Jon Schindehette joined Wizards of the Coast in 1997 as the website art director. In the intervening years he has worked as the marketing art director, novels art director, and creative manager. In January of 2009 he moved into the role of senior creative director for D&D. Jon is a long time D&D player (started in 1978), and currently plays in a Tuesday night game and DMs a random pick-up game for younger players. He can be found on Twitter (@ArtOrder) and at
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