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Dragon Animation Masterclass

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Have you ever wanted to learn how to animate a Dragon? This 12 week course course will take you through all the fundamentals you need to know to accomplish the infamous challenge of animating a dragon in all it’s glory. The only one of it’s kind online with our awesome Dragon Rig!

In this 12 week course you will learn how to animate a dragon flight cycle and dragon walk cycle. Your dragon animation library will need to be built for the animation assets to use later on. You will learn how to attach the dragon animation to a motion path fly, turn and learn how to land the dragon then roar! At the end of the course you will learn how to animate the Dragon taking off.

Your instructor has also created animation presets for you to load, aswell as cached dragon animation files to enable you to reference in real-time while you work.

Animating a Dragon is no easy task, the course starts off with an in-depth introduction to the character and the rig before you actually begin. Do not skip this part as there is so much to learn!

Jonathan Symmonds, your instructor, former lead animator of the Game of Thrones and House of Dragons, will teach you all the tips and tricks you need to know to create the most amazing dragon animation. Join now!

  • MENTOR – Jonathan Symmonds
  • SKILL LEVEL – Intermediate
  • DURATION – 12 Weeks
  • SOFTWARE – Autodesk Maya

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About the Dragon Animation Course

Course Description

One of the hardest characters to animate (besides and octopus) is a dragon! Why? Because there is hardly any reference of dragons and knowing how to get the timing correct on such a magnificent creature is a real skill. That being said, Jonathan Symmonds has over 8 years experience animating dragons, so who better to teach you than the man himself.

He will take you on a 12 week course where you will learn how to set up the scene for animating, build the environment and set up the cameras and lighting. You will take a deep dive into the rig and he will explain everything there is to know about the rig and how to use it properly. From there, animation begins, you will learn different flight cycle setups, from climbs, to glides, to turns and then you will put this into practice on a path.

Once the animation path is working it will be time to land the dragon. You will learn all about the weight of the dragon and how to slow it down before settling on the ground. Next you will be animating a roar! This is so cool!

From the roar it will be time to do a walk cycle and build your asset library for the final stages and take-off. The last part of the course will be the take-off and final output for your demo-reels!

Welcome to the course!

Course Information

  • Course Duration – 12 Weeks
  • This course can be taken at any time
  • Category – Animation
  • Price $1299
  • Prerequisites – None
  • Software Required – Autodesk Maya 2019+
  • Instructor – Jonathan Symmonds
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What will i learn?

  • Introduction to the rig and how a dragon moves
  • Understand the fundamentals of flight
  • Create your own set of flight cycles and build up your library
  • Learn how to animate a character on a path and landing
  • A much better understanding of weight and timing
  • Landing a dragon and moving into a roar
  • Behavioral shifts in creatures during action
  • Asset library build and layered animation design
  • Learn how to take-off an extremely heavy creature
  • Camera switching and scripting cameras
  • Basic lighting setups for final look with Light Rig
  • Playblasting techniques and fine-tuning animation
  • Learn how to animation a Dragon Walk Cycle
  • Learn how to animate and cut an in-scene camera
Dragon Masterclass course example

Flight Cycles & Walk Cycles Included!

Including the cached files from your instructor to help when animating

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12 Week Course Breakdown

Week 01

Introduction to the course. We will begin by looking into the rig and setting up the scene for animation along with some reference.

Course Consent
7 Questions
Project Files
Scene Files
Week 01 - Lesson 00 - Loading the Dragon
Week 01 - Lesson 00 - Dragon Picker for Maya
Week 01 - Lesson 01 - Dragon Rig Intro
Week 01 - Lesson 02 - Flight Cycle Reference
Week 01 - Lesson 03 - Flight Cycle Part 01
Week 01 - Lesson 03 - Flight Cycle Part 02
Week 01 - Lesson 03 - Flight Cycle Part 03
Week 01 - Lesson 03 - Flight Cycle Part 04

Week 02

This week we will be creating different sets of cycles, from glides to climbs to turns and saving them into our library for use later.

Project Files
Scene Files
Week 02 - Flight Cycle - Climb
Week 02 - Flight Cycle - Glide
Week 02 - Flight Cycle - Turn Right
Week 02 - Flight Cycle - Turn Left

Week 03

In this week we will start to build our scene and environment while using our assets we created in the previous courses and applying them to the dragon on a path.

Week 03 - Environment introduction and build
Week 03 - Attaching the Dragon to the Motion path

Week 04

In this week we will be bringing the dragon into final approach to land and build the landing animation.

Project Files
Scene Files
Week 04 - Approach to land

Week 05

Now that we have approached to land, it is time to hit the runway! Let’s fine tune this section and start to prepare the dragon for the roar!

Week 05 - Landing the Dragon

Week 06

It is time now to take a small break and work on some asset building. Assets are small bits of animations that you can add later to the character to make it look really nice.

Project Files
Scene Files
Week 06 - Building your animation asset library

Week 07

Using our assets we created we will now implement them in the landing and roar. Building the momentum for the roar is very important so make sure to pay attention to this lesson!

Week 07 - Landing to Roar - Part 01
Week 07 - Landing to Roar - Part 02

Week 08

In this week you will learn how to animate a Dragon Walk Cycle. The course is extremely detailed and you even get your own GPU cached dragon from Jonathan to reference from.

Project Files
Scene Files
Week 08 - Dragon Walk Cycle - Part 01
Week 08 - Dragon Walk Cycle - Part 02
Week 08 - Dragon Walk Cycle - Part 03
Week 08 - Dragon Walk Cycle - Part 04
Week 08 - Dragon Walk Cycle - Part 05

Week 09

This is where the course gets really cool! Behavior study. Jonathan will take you through different setups and techniques to improve and add subtle behavior changes to your dragon. Enjoy!

Week 09 - Behaviour Study

Week 10

It is now time to take off. This 3 week section will be full of challenges. In this week you will be setting up the scene in preparation for take-off.

Project Files
Scene Files
Week 10 - Take Off - Part 01

Week 11

This week, you will continue to develop and block out the take-off animation.

Week 11 - Take Off - Part 02

Week 12

In this final week, you will be finishing up the take-off animation with Jonathan and you will be preparing for final playblasting. Be sure to add in some of your really cool assets to the dragon that you did in Week 06.

Week 12 - Take Off - Part 03
Certificate of Completetion
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Discover our unique Dragon Picker!


Kindly sponsored by MGLAND for Sophoria Academy Students


Choose your own Dragon Textures


dragon flight cycle colors

Meet your Instructor

> Age: 39

> Speciality: Animation

> Experience: 20+years

“Surround yourselves only with the best. The better they are, the better you will become!”

Jonathan Symmonds

Jonathan Symmonds has worked for over 18 years as a senior animator having worked on titles such as James Cameron’s “Avatar,” “Prince of Persia,” “Dark Tide,” “Knerten,” “Trollhunter,” to name but a few. Jonathan is more famously recognized as the ‘Lead Animator’ on the “Game of Thrones” and most recently “House of Dragons.”

He has extensive knowledge of creature animation and is one of the co-founders of Sophoria Academy. He was nominated 3 times for a VES Society Award and has even done his own TED Talk.

Join him as he takes you through this fantastic course and learn some insider knowledge from one of the greatest animators around!

Professional Profile

Frequently asked questions

Is this a Mentored Course & do i Get any Feedback?

This question has been asked numerous times. While the course is pre-recorded there is the possibility of submitting your work to the Mentor for reviews at any time, FREE of charge! We don’t expect you to just enroll in the course and off you go. The instructor, Jonathan is available to give you recorded reviews on your work as you progress through the course.

In order to submit your work for review, simply upload it to Dropbox or Syncsketch and Jonathan will review it and provide feedback on the animation progress.

Do i need to be an advanced animator to start?

No. This course is designed to accommodate all artists, from beginners to advanced. Your instructor mentions areas in the course that can be skipped over if you are familiar with certain parts of the animation process, so the more advanced animators can move forward while giving the beginner animators time to catch up.

Do i get access to the Dragon Rig?

Yes you do! The Dragon Rig is included in the course! Not only is the rig included, but in some of the lessons, your instructor actually gives you final animation to reference from in the form of a cache that you can import into your scene to act as a guide.

Is there a payment plan available?

At the moment, unfortunately there is not a payment plan. We get asked this a lot! We are aware that a lot of students cannot afford to pay the full amount up front and as we would love to offer the course on a payment plan. We have split the course up if you would like to use another rig and just learn from Jonathan Symmonds.

If you would like to just do the course with your own rig, please look at the courses and choose the one that says *no rig!

Why choose us?

Benefits of studying with Sophoria Academy

Learn from some of the best instructors in the World from the comfort of your own home.

We want you to learn all the skills you need to become a VFX artist in your own right and at a price you can afford. No more expensive learning.

A Social Community

When you join the academy, you will join other students from all over the World. Share your work in the forums and meet new friends!

Invite fellow students

Using our affiliate program, you can now share courses and get discounts on others. Invite and refer a friend to benefit!

Project Files

Our courses have all the working files set up and in an easy to understand format. Your instructor has prepared everything for you already!

Track your progress

Follow your path to learn each and every skill. Track your progress and come back at any time, we make this easy for you.

Watch any time

If you are joining a course or a mentorship, sit back and relax. Study at your own pace and network with others.

Mentorship opportunities

Some of our courses offer mentorship features. Be sure to get a course with mentorship so you can have direct feedback from your instructors.

Affordable Options

Save money!

Buy the Course and Dragon Rig separately

This can help if you want to do the course and use your own rig


Dragon Animation Masterclass (No Rig)

Follow the course with your own Dragon Rig


Buy our awesome Dragon Rig

If you just want to buy the Dragon rig, here it is!

Save money!

Get the Quadruped Bundle!

Why not save money and get an amazing deal on the quadruped walk and run cycles!


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Animate a Dog run Cycle

Animate a realistic Dog Walk Cycle with Jonathan Symmonds

Why choose SOPHORIA Academy?

Industry Mentors

Learn from the best mentors that are working in the industry.

Flexi Study

Take your time to understand the content and assignments.

Industry Ready

Graduate with confidence that you are highly skilled.

Payment Plans

Payment options are coming soon, stay tuned!


Join the forums to connect to fellow students.

Custom feedback

Custom feedback from your mentor, just for you!

What are you waiting for?

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