Results Will Vary!
As with anything as unique as our voices, the results of what I’m going to show you today will of course vary a lot depending on what types of voices you are able to do and what kind of voice you have in general. Don’t be discouraged by this, but be inspired instead! Know that you have an extremely unique instrument built right into your body, use it!
Dragons are usually pretty big and we need to take this into account when recording our voices. The simplest way to get this “big” effect, is to record your voice in stereo. I used an XY setup but you can use whatever you personally like the best. Stereo will instantly make your voice sound bigger in terms of space, which helps on the processing side of things later. The sounds were recording at 92kHz/48bit, giving me more pitching headroom. You can view my simple setup on the picture below.
Try recording around 3-4 minutes of different roars, grunts, breaths and such, so you have as much material to work with as possible. Also, make sure you represent different frequency ranges with those sounds, as you never know what you might need later. Here’s the 4 sounds I ended up picking from my recordings;
Processing The Sounds
Surprisingly little processing going into making a Dragon, mostly reverb and pitch shifting. First off, start by layering the sound you’ve chosen on top of each other.
The sounds are layered in the order heard in the audio file, so let’s go through them one by one so you can clearly understand what I did with each.
The first is probably where I did the most processing. I started out lowered the pitch by an octave. It made the sound really powerful and gave that low grumble that I wanted, but the low-end was a bit too muddy and dominating, so I cut out a little bit of low end with an EQ to control it some more. Next up I used a transient designer for a really subtle design detail. The grumbles sounded a bit too “hard hitting” so the transient designer helped smoothen out the transients, giving them some more sustain which in turn made it sound like the sound came from the stomach more than the throat.
Here’s how it ended up sounding;
The second sound I also pitched down. It lacked some aggressiveness, so I put on some distortion which focused on the higher frequencies to make it sound more dangerous.
Here’s how that ended up sounding;
I did absolutely nothing on the third sound, because at this point the overall sound was lacking clarity and high-end. So using a sound file that had no processing done, made the sound more natural and grounded.
Now, the fourth and final sound sounds horrible on it’s own! I was still lacking some high-end, and wanted to get more of that lizard sound, so instead of pitching down the sound, I pitched it up. It introduces to artifacts, but that actually helped the sound a lot since it gave it that “spitty” lizard feel that I wanted.
Here’s how to fourth sound ended up;
The final, and arguably to most important thing I did, was to route all the sounds through a pretty big reverb. This was of course to convey a sense of space and also a sense of magnitude in relation to the dragon.
The overall dragon roar ended up sounding like this!
Pretty cool I think, for someone standing in his closet making weird noises for 5 minutes!
There are of course tons of more things you can add to this, like animal sounds, more layers and so forth. For what I was working on, this worked perfectly.
This is my process when working on almost any creature or monster. I start trying to do everything with my voice, and if I need a little extra something, then I dig into my libraries and see if I can find any interesting animal sounds.
- Record 4 different 5 minute length monster recordings with your own voice. Make each recording unique. Maybe put a finger in your mouth while vocalising or only use your nose.
- Design 10 different monster roars with the techniques shown above.
- Find 3 pictures of a monster and design a roar for them, from scratch.
- Find a video of any dragon roaring from a game, and design a dragon for it.