How ‘Game of Thrones’ Brings Dragons to “Life”

Nobody can deny that “dracarys” is one of the best words in the Game of Thrones universe. Once Daenerys says it you know it’s about to get crazy!! But let’s take a moment to appreciate the mastery that goes behind the creation of her Dragons by the Pixomondo VFX team. Celebrating over 5 years of dragons.



The company Pixomondo Studios works on the effects for Game of Thrones and has received 3 Emmys for their work on the show as of 2016. [1] The creation of the dragons takes a Pixomondo team of at least 10 people 6 months to complete. [2] The process begins with the visual effects team crafting the most complete and effective base for the CGI team to work with so the scene can come to life. In scenes where Clarke rides the dragon, she is actually on a swaying metal structure that resembles the dragon in its simplest form. [3]

photo courtesy of Daily Mail and HBO

Once the scene is shot the CGI team begins researching animals to create a dragon that looks as realistic as possible. Using shells and scales as inspiration for the dragon’s body, bat wings and crocodile skin were key influencers in their rough scaly exterior. A chicken was also used to analyze the muscles and movement as stated in an interview with Pixomondo VFX Supervisor Sven Martin by the Washington Post:

“I was looking for an animal so we can really discover how the muscles underneath should work,” said Sven Martin, Pixomondo’s visual effects supervisor. “I called over all the animators and they all had to just play with the chicken … You could feel how the muscles underneath are moving and what are the restrictions, where the bone can’t go. We built our dragon basically the same way.”

Of course, creating the visual effects for “Game of Thrones” requires far more than poultry. Martin and his team use a variety of clay modeling software such as ZBrush, to design dragons that align with the show’s broader aesthetic sensibilities.

As you might imagine, the process involves frequent communication between the show runners and Pixomondo. The production team will send over a few concept paintings, and Martin’s team will work off those initial ideas to create 2-D models. 

Read the full article here.

The dragon is then built from the inside out, starting with its skeleton and muscles and then it’s rough scaly exterior. When the dragon effect is complete they integrate it with the shots that need effects. This process takes another 2-3 months for a team of 5 to 6 people. But wait there’s more! The Pixomondo team doesn’t stop at dragons, they also create the effects for the giant wolves and White Walkers. Their hard work and attention to detail contributes to the fantastical viewing experience of Game of Thrones and should not go unnoticed.