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A little project that branched off from a commissioned piece I have been working on. The eggs were a late addition and gave me the idea to release this as a Father's Day wallpaper.

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8.73/10 rating (259 votes)

Pickle Jar Variations what's this?

7.29/10 rating (28 votes)

Member Comments

That was all Greek to me, but I'm glad I could help.

Tue August 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

That was all Greek to me, but I'm glad I could help.

Tue August 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

"Floating Rocks"
Thanks for bringing this to my attention. The latest version of Vue d'Esprit includes a feature called "ecosystem stacking" which I was experimenting here. Obviously there are a few kinks to work out. I will see what I can do about posting a corrected render.

Sun August 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Really nice image. One thing has me curious, and I'm sorry if this has been mentioned already; I scanned the comments, but there are a lot. On the dual monitor version I downoaded (3840x1080) some of the loose rocks on the ramp-like boulder appear to be floating in mid-air. Was this intentional? There is also one in particular that isn't "floating" but appears to be at an impossible angle. If this doesn't make sense, contact me at and I'll highlight the parts I'm talking about with my awesome MS Paint skills.

Sun August 5, 2012 at 10:45 am

Thanks for the heads up on that. It should show the correct file now.

Mon July 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm

"Wrong link for 2560 x 1600"
The 2560 x 1600 JPG is actually 2880 x 1800.

Mon July 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I like ones like this, images with water are always good. Any chance of one with out the dragon?

Sat July 7, 2012 at 9:31 am

Nice Loki
I admit - this kind of image isn't my usual preference for my desktop background. I typically chose darker images so I can see my icons easier.

But I decided to dl this one and try it on my dual monitor set up.

It made me gasp when I minimised everything and saw it in all its glory.

The layout for a dual monitor puts the grand lady smack in the middle of the rh monitor (the screen that I use the least) and she is truly stunning!

I'll definitely be keeping her around for a while.

Thanks so much for this Ryan, and all your many others. I look forward to cycling through the ones that I've downloaded already.



Sun July 1, 2012 at 11:43 pm

"Very nice!"
That's the nicest creature feature you've ever done, imho. The dragon is subtle and the color scheme makes it appear more metallic and shiny. If you keep on throwing images like this at us, we're going to end up spoiled for anything less!

As a side note: You do commissions??? I'm likely to spend the next two or three years thinking up something cool enough to commission.

Mon June 25, 2012 at 7:37 am

"Hidden Treasure"
I LOVE this one! Like many, I didn't see the dragon at first, and now wonder how I missed it! When I did first see it, it was the wings that got my attention... it took me a second or two to figure out what they were... the rest of the dragon has such a rock-like texture that she just melts into the rock.

I love the fact you have to look twice; it seems appropriate... there is so much subtle beauty around us that is "hidden in plain sight" so that you have to stop and look twice to see it. I think the ability to see and capture that is what distinguishes a great artist. Your choices and range of subjects, Ryan, suggests you are better than most at seeing much of the subtle and hidden beauty/wonder/intrigue around, with the imagination to go beyond!

The longer it takes to 'take in' everything in a picture, the longer you enjoy that 'new discovery' feeling when you first see a new image. I think the hidden details kind of tease the imagination a bit into wondering what ELSE is there that you can't see at all... maybe that's just me!

I also love the subtle reflected lighting on the rocks on the left, and the contrasting color and texture of the pebbles in the foreground. Like so many of your images, it is the many subtle details that make it a masterpiece, I think.

(And the title is perfect!)

Sun June 24, 2012 at 12:04 am

"Keep the Gold"
Ryan, I wanted to weigh in with a "keep the gold dragon" vote. I really enjoyed downloading the wallpaper, setting it up, minimizing my windows, and going "Holy crap, there's a dragon in there!"

Fri June 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm

"The Subtle Dragon"
I really like the subtlety of the dragon in the original version; it adds to the mystery of the scene.

Fri June 22, 2012 at 11:30 am

"Dragon on Retina Display"
I'm glad to see you updating your wallpapers for the new MacBook Pro Retina Display. I just looked at this one in 2800 x 1800 format and zoomed in on the eggs (my display is the older Mac Pro display) and am very impressed with the level of detail available at the higher resolution. I will be ordering one of these new laptops (hopefully soon!) and am looking forward to putting your updated images on it for the background!

Fri June 22, 2012 at 10:46 am

Definitely prefer this version:)

Fri June 22, 2012 at 10:19 am

I like the fact that the dragon isn't so easily seen. It makes the piece more enchanting.

Fri June 22, 2012 at 9:35 am

Chris B
"@ Ryan"
that's a shame, especially with as well as the dragon came out if that is the part from the piece.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 11:10 pm

"@Chris B"
Well I can't say too much other than it is probably dead in the water. I'm pretty disappointed about it to be honest.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Chris B
"Any Info on the commissioned piece?"
I didn't read your notes on this one until now... hidden just like the dragon ;) Can you tell us anything about the commissioned piece? If not that's fine, I'm sure we're all curious about all you work.

PS I totally agree with Justin.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Justin B
"@ Ryan"
I don't think you should attempt to draw more attention to the dragon. I think it being somewhat hidden in the background work's to the image's advantage, and the comments from your users seem to agree. I haven't noticed anyone (myself included) that said they didn't see it at first calling that a negative.

It's not as if the detail isn't there. Once you notice it, it's rather elaborate, and then your eyes are always drawn to it. It's simply hiding in plain sight, which I imagine dragons do every day... and THAT's why we haven't seen a live one yet.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm

"Just the Pic Size"
I didn't notice the dragon until I pulled it up full screen, then I wondered how I could have missed it. I think the first version without the zoom is perfect.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm

David M
Dragons are so cool! I agree with the comments from some others about creating more wallpapers with fantasy creatures. Maybe even a medieval knight fighting one of these bad boys! Great job.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Ryan, I too am a huge fan of fantasy so I love this and would like to see more fantasy wallpapers of gargoyles, wizards, witches, creatures, etc. as part of the subject rotation.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Prefer the gold one.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 12:41 am

"There's a dragon?!"
I hadn't noticed the dragon either. I feel silly.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 10:53 am

"Dragon's Gold"
I love ALL versions of this image! Dragons have always been my fave and this rengition is excellent!

Thu June 21, 2012 at 10:34 am

""Stay Gold Ponyboy""
I too prefer the first version, but it concerns me that people aren't enough noticing the dragon. Perhaps I need to zoom in a bit more.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 10:11 am

brad r
"the dragon"
That's not Smaug!

Thu June 21, 2012 at 10:03 am

"Gold all the way"
I saw the gold one first and fell in love. The green version is pretty, but goooollldldldldld!!!!!!!

Thu June 21, 2012 at 9:02 am

"There's a dragon!!!"
I didn't see the dragon! I love the dragon! Makes me think of Smaug...

But now that I've seen the dragon, I prefer the gold too ;)

Thu June 21, 2012 at 8:46 am

"Go for the Gold"
I have to say I prefer the gold, the camoflage (intended or otherwise) works, one would thing a green dragon would prefer a more verdant environment in which to hide a nest.

Thu June 21, 2012 at 7:40 am

Chris B
"My wife says Gold too"
Saw the pickle jar so I was switching between them, she walked in when the gold one was on the screen and I think it might be her new all time favorite. I said He just made a new green one, she said "eh, he shouldn't have bothered." ah, gotta love her :) So congrats on toppling summerwood. I do have to agree with her about liking the gold one better, finding it is half the fun, then noticing the eggs :)

You could do a dragon series with each in it's "natural" environment. Green in a tree, blue in water or a glacier, white on a snow cap mtn, and a red in a volcano would be pretty sweet.

Wed June 20, 2012 at 11:03 pm

You struck gold with the first one. Sorry, had to say it.

Wed June 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm

You struck gold with the first one. Sorry, had to say it.

Wed June 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm

"Definitely prefer the original"
I LOVE how the dragon blends into the background of this one. It makes the picture seem more real and special. Pickle Jar is a nice option for those who prefer the other way though.

Wed June 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm

"wisdom of wives"
I am one of those who missed the dragon the first time around and needed the second to make me revisit the first. Now that I have revisited the first, I do prefer it, with the dragon blended in with the background.

Wed June 20, 2012 at 10:51 am

"Glad you did the second"
I have found that the presence of the second version made me like the first more - being able to see the finer details of the dragon in green let me pick them out in gold when I couldn't discern them before.

Wed June 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

Justin B
"Another vote for the original."
While I agree it took me a second for my eyes to be drawn to the dragon in the original version, I figured that was the intent. Upon seeing the revised version with the color change, I have to say it takes away quite a bit from the original's feel.

Just my $.02.

Wed June 20, 2012 at 10:12 am

"First One"
Yeah, the original is definitely my preference.

Wed June 20, 2012 at 9:38 am

"Need a triplescreen version of this..."
What would be really cool .. is on one side.. show a boat with some looters trying to sneak in ;-)

Wed June 20, 2012 at 9:03 am

"First One"
The first one is certainly the best one, it a joy

Wed June 20, 2012 at 3:08 am

I think this version would be great if the dragon had his eye open. Have you ever done any works with a dragon as the central part of the piece?

Wed June 20, 2012 at 2:35 am

"First One!"
I love the first one, the picture draws you into the cave and then you see that beautiful dragon. Subtle and wonderful!

Tue June 19, 2012 at 11:56 pm

"first one"
Part of what makes it great is the subtlety and discovering something you missed at first glance. Once you see it, you can't help but be incredulous that you missed it at all. The first one for sure.

Tue June 19, 2012 at 10:09 pm

"Go for Gold"
I like the gold one better - the subtle dragon is far more believable.

Tue June 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm

"Re: I agree with Jessie"
The highlight of my day when I downloaded this picture was going "Ok, I see the gold, but no dragon. Ok....OH! I see it now!" Definitely like the 1st version better with the hiding dragon. :) It pops out when you see it.

Tue June 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Brandi U.
"Prefer the first"
I love the original one. Now, the dragon stands out too much. And, the eyes with this version make him look dead.

Tue June 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm

"I agree with Jessie too"
When I saw the picture for the first time, I thought about the shining gold and was surprised when I saw there was a dragon in the center. As if I was a treasure hunter in a trap.

I wonder if I haven't played Skyrim too much :p

Tue June 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I just love this render and everything about it the water, the cave walls the lighting is just perfect definitely one of my favorites

Tue June 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm

"Original == Best"
The gold dragon is way more epic looking, the green looks weird.

Tue June 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm

"I agree with Jessie"
I have to agree with Jessie. The original version was more fun, and definitely resulted in that "AHA!" moment. :)

Tue June 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm

For me the Gold dragon makes more sense because reptiles tend to blend in to their surroundings when they are sun bathing.

Tue June 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm

"Re: Jessie"
Jessie came in last night and saw the green dragon version. "Oh, but I enjoyed finding it the first time," she said. That is the main reason this one is in the Pickle Jar and not the gallery.

Happy wife = happy life.

Tue June 19, 2012 at 12:47 am

I still prefer the original!

Tue June 19, 2012 at 12:23 am

"+1 Gold"
I much prefer the gold dragon. It's camo, the raiding warrior wouldn't even see it until one eye opened and shot a red light at it.

Tue June 19, 2012 at 12:21 am

I've added a version with a green dragon to the Pickle Jar this morning. Some folks have mentioned that the dragon in the original blended a bit too much into the background. Let me know which version you prefer!

Tue June 19, 2012 at 11:58 am

Many newer smartphones are becoming 1280x720 resolutions. You should consider adding that to the standard resolutions!! One of my fav images here, amazing!

Tue June 19, 2012 at 2:01 am

It really is bloody gorgeous. The only concern I have is that the dragon himself gets a little lost in all that yellow. Maybe just a few more hints of shadow to define his shape, or maybe a little more contrast, would get him to pop out of his cave immediately. That's the only nit I see to pick here, and if you don't change it, it's still bloody gorgeous!

Mon June 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I cant wait to see this Dual Screen

Mon June 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

"Dragon's Gold"
This is amazing!

Mon June 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

Linda K.
"Dragon's Gold"
Love this one. Great pic. Thanks!

Mon June 18, 2012 at 9:28 am

"Dragon's Gold"

Mon June 18, 2012 at 8:21 am

Ross H.
"Love it!"
I love this one, Ryan! And, thanks!

Mon June 18, 2012 at 7:26 am

"Perfect title"
This is gorgeous. The sunlight makes those eggs look like gold!! love the dragon worshipfully staring at them.

Mon June 18, 2012 at 3:21 am

This reminds me of the show LOST. Great pic Ryan!!

Sun June 17, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Chris B
"Happy Father's day"
Love everything about it. would like to see if the sun rays were toned down a bit but I'm not sure if I would truly like it any better or not.

Glad to hear that it is a warm up, maybe next Father's day we can see daddy dragon teaching his 3 baby dragons how to fly! :) (or sooner!)

Sun June 17, 2012 at 11:23 pm

"Happy Father's Day!"
Happy Father's Day, Ryan! I hope you and your family have a wonderful day.

Sun June 17, 2012 at 12:56 am

"Dragons Gold"
Superb work Ryan! Smaug from The Hobbitt?

Sun June 17, 2012 at 4:14 am

"Happy Father's Day"
To you too, Ryan! I sense symbolism with your own private life, and that makes me like it all the more.

Sat June 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm

"Love it but"
could you make a version where the light is not so bright?

Sat June 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Stunning. Love it!

Sat June 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Daniel B
Love it, waiting hopefully for tri-screen version.

I actually would call it though Dragon's Treasure though, leave some ambiguity about which is which (Gold vs Eggs).

Sat June 16, 2012 at 12:41 am

Well, I wanted it to be subtle ;)

Sat June 16, 2012 at 12:13 am

"Thank you!"
This is awesome. Should have rated it higher. Didn't notice the eggs until the 4th time I looked at it since I was looking at the dragon. :)

Sat June 16, 2012 at 11:57 am

Thank you!
"didn't notice the dragon"
I was so happy about the sea and cave that I downloaded it off of that. It wasn't until I was full screen that I noticed the excellently done dragon.

5 stars!

Sat June 16, 2012 at 11:50 am

At long last, our brave digital artist captures the elusive dragon... a long awaited feat by his most loyal of followers.

Well done, Ryan.

Sat June 16, 2012 at 10:21 am

Brandi U.
"A new favorite"
LOVE this. Stunning. The realism of the dragon is amazing. I love the "father's day" theme. Great to see a fantasy piece from you again.

Sat June 16, 2012 at 9:30 am

Love the wallpaper Ryan, really stunning.

I love how your wallpapers have incorperated different elements recently. It's nice to have a change from the planet wallpapers that you have stuck to in the past. Great work!

Sat June 16, 2012 at 8:32 am

"Nice change of pace"
Just love it!

Sat June 16, 2012 at 8:20 am

"Great stuff!"
Was glad to see a new option this morning, have never commented before, but I like your warmer nature scenery. Next I would love to use one with a brighter look. Maybe a beach scene, an Irish hillside at dawn, or mountain morning. My all time fave is also your most popular.

Sat June 16, 2012 at 8:05 am

If this is a warm-up, then let me say "Holy Crap!" I do agree with Jerad that you need more renders with wolves, but I am biased...

Fri June 15, 2012 at 9:24 pm

The Guru
"Love it!"
Textures: A

Lighting: A

Theme: A

Layout: A

Execution: A

Awesomeness: A+

I'm a fan of this one.

Fri June 15, 2012 at 7:12 pm

"great concept"
I really like dragon-themed stuff :)

can you make his/her eye a bit different, though? it looks too round to be realistic, even if the eyelid is closed. if it's open, there's no shine to it at all. Unless I'm staring at the top of its head and the round thing is just a mark? Not quite clear to me, for some reason. I don't know if anyone else sees the confusion. *shrug*

LOVE the theme, though... dragons need to be more frequent in your designs :)

Fri June 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I love this Ryan! Nice job on the sunlight as well as the water, and the cave walls look marvelous. Only thing I might criticize is the scales of the dragon, and how they could stand to be less spotted.

Seeing this reminds me of something. I remember you asking your subscribers when you got back from your vacation what they wanted to see next. Someone mentioned a Lord of the Rings themed desktop, and you said you were already working on one. When can we expect to see it?

Fri June 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm

"Wanna go cave spelunking...."
Forget the gold, I wanna meet the dragon! Oh wait....Dragons aren't real, are they?! loosk so....real.....

Fri June 15, 2012 at 4:53 pm

This picture is amazing. I love love love it! Great work. *Patiently waits for tri-screen* :D

Fri June 15, 2012 at 3:34 pm

"Really Great"
I really your latest render. Looks like a place I would like to visit. Thanks for your work. Keep it coming.

Fri June 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I literally gasped at my desk at work when I saw this. Incredible work!

Fri June 15, 2012 at 12:25 am

Consider this one a warm up...

Fri June 15, 2012 at 11:32 am

"Love it! More of this, please"
Ryan, this is so great! I love it--as a fan of your work, and also a big fantasy fan. I've looked at your earlier dragons and other fantasy images, and I was hoping you'd get back to doing them (I should have spoken up). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the abstracts, nature scenes, planetscapes, and other things you do, but please do some more fantasy and sci-fi!

Fri June 15, 2012 at 11:16 am

Sorry about that. I've had some problems rendering multiscreens since my alternate renderer went down in January. My new "mobile workstation" is set to arrive today so I should be able to bite into my render backlog shortly!

Fri June 15, 2012 at 9:29 am

"Relationship problems"
Dear Ryan,

Please stop making such awesome single-screen only images. My monitors are getting jealous of one another and are developing serious relationship problems. I'm spending most of my time counseling them these days. Please post multiscreens before things get out of control on my desk.


Another Ryan

Fri June 15, 2012 at 9:28 am

"single screen .zip"
posting this here to see if anyone else had this problem--if you aren't a little BELOW the link you get the 2880 file!!! can you move the link down a little???

(like I said it could just be a little ole lady problem)

the picture is great!!!

Fri June 15, 2012 at 9:11 am

This is my favorite thing you have done in like forever!

Fri June 15, 2012 at 9:06 am

This is fabulous. Completely love it!

Fri June 15, 2012 at 8:43 am

Love it! Can't wait for the dual screen versions!

Fri June 15, 2012 at 8:23 am

Very well done. It really makes me believe this is the home for the dragon. Good stuff! :)

Suggestion for the future: you should do another wolf wallpaper - perhaps a wolf den? NightChildren is awesome, but I've been craving some more wolves! :P

Maybe you could tie dragons and wolves together and rock a Game of Thrones type theme?

Fri June 15, 2012 at 7:43 am

"Love it!"
I love when you do fantasy pieces, Dragons are one of my favorite fantasy subjects... Love this - cant wait for the multi screens to come out!

Fri June 15, 2012 at 6:43 am

"Absolutely STUNNING!!"
I have to say this is the best wallpaper that you have made I have a new go to wallpaper. This is one that I will need framed. The Kalessi would be proud!!!

Fri June 15, 2012 at 6:12 am

Henry V.
"Very Cool!"
Love this one!

Fri June 15, 2012 at 3:35 am

Really love this one well done Ryan

Fri June 15, 2012 at 3:00 am

"super awesome"
and thanks for the retina size wallpapers. more reason to get one of the new macbooks. =D

Fri June 15, 2012 at 2:24 am

Truly amazing and love the detailed dragon, especially how subtly it fits in with everything else.

Thu June 14, 2012 at 11:08 pm

The colors, sharpness, lighting, and translucent water makes this one of the best of 2012 by far!

Thu June 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm

"Love it"
Amazing work!

Thu June 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Derek J.
"Great Cave"
I love how the cave looks perfect as a home for this dragon in that the walls of the cave look enough like the dragon's body that you can easily see it blending into the scenery until its prey is far too close to run. Well done!

Thu June 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm

I almost expect to see a hobbitt lurking in a corner.

Thu June 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm

"Great theme!"
Hey Ryan,

This is an awesome piece, both in theme and in execution. Though I see where you are going with the beautiful sunlight shining through, I think it is a little too bright. That being said, I CAN'T WAIT to see the multiscreen renders of this amazing piece.

You continuously outdo yourself, sir.

Thu June 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Rob C.
Another great job!

Thu June 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm

"Great Work"
I really like this one a lot, as I do most all of your work, looks fantastic.

Thu June 14, 2012 at 7:45 pm

"Thank You"
Love it, from one father to another, Happy Father's Day

Thu June 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm

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