Could you do an analysis on Toothless's (attempts) at drawing in HTTYD 1 & 2?
Toothless drawing in the dirt/snow is positively hysterical and I love it so much. I do chat a little bit about Toothless drawing in this post right here about the Forbidden Friendship “dance.” I’ll go through a lot of those observations again as well as add some more thoughts here.
For starters: Toothless’ drawings are not an innate draconic action - that is, dragons don’t naturally grab a stick and begin scribbling in the dirt. They don’t do that on their own in the wild. Rather, Toothless’ “drawing” is intentionally mimicking what Hiccup is doing. It’s like when he tried to smile at Hiccup at the start of “Forbidden Friendship” …only a bigger, crazier action.
Toothless watches Hiccup drawing in the dirt with curiosity. He then decides to mirror what Hiccup is doing and do the exact same thing. The dragon charges off, rips off a tree branch, and begins to scribble. Now the reason why Toothless chooses to mimic is incredibly important. Toothless is demonstrating interest in Hiccup the Viking - positive emotional interest - and he mimics Hiccup’s actions to be like Hiccup. Whereas before, Toothless has strayed away from Hiccup and attempted to avoid his “enemy,” now Toothless is trying to be like someone he’s starting to consider a “friend.”
So Toothless is drawing in the dirt to build a bond. He’s doing it because he regards Hiccup more positively now and is openly curious about Hiccup’s actions. He’s doing it to relate to Hiccup, and indeed this experience is what brings human and dragon so close… they physically touch for the first time. By doing what Hiccup does, Toothless shows he:
Is curious about a human’s actions.
Is in an upbeat, playful mood.
Wants to relate to a human.
Tries to be like that human to build a positive association between them.
Demonstrates he wants to build a bond.
In the second movie, we see Toothless do something similar. Toothless seems to be spurred to “draw” when he sees another human being draw - and when he likes that human being. Toothless has begun to bond with Valka; they had a positive reaction back in the dragon sanctuary. Now Toothless seems to want to “impress” Valka and “relate” to her. He sees her draw in the snow; the dragon excitedly repeats what she does, hoping to gain her attention and some positive feedback from the woman. Yet again, this is something Toothless does as a “fun activity” with human beings.
Of course in both instances Toothless takes over and gets in the way. In HTTYD, Toothless almost whacks Hiccup on the head. In HTTYD 2, he draws over Valka’s map.
In the case of the first movie, it’s also really cool that Toothless draws around Hiccup. Hiccup is the center of Toothless’ art - the central focus of why Toothless tries to draw in the first place. (For that matter, he’s right in the center of everything when he draws in the snow, too).
Now some fans have remarked this drawing looks like Hiccup. I’m not wholly certain I buy into it, thinking it might be more of a happy visual accident, but I love the discussion of it regardless. Dragons don’t demonstrate an extraordinary amount of obvious abstract thinking, and drawing a two dimensional picture is an incredibly abstract mental framework. However, for those who want to smile at the sweet possibility Toothless is drawing Hiccup, check out how others have filled in the drawing here. The post to which I linked you has the mouth in the bottom left corner, the nose right above it, the eyes as two loops right below Hiccup’s rock, and the hair flying above Hiccup and to the right. Once you see it, I’ll admit - you see it.
In this interpretation, we would say that Hiccup drew Toothless… and Toothless drew Hiccup… a further sign of their interest in one another, positive regard, and indication that they are starting to emotionally bond. And that is a really cool symbol to consider. In that case, Toothless actively recognizes Hiccup is drawing him and decides to reciprocate. It gives so much more meaning to the dragon’s excited scribblings: he’s drawing a human! That is so far from the fact Toothless once attacked Vikings’ homes and nearly shot Stoick on the watch tower.
Regardless of how you interpret Toothless’ drawing, there’s huge meaning in the fact Toothless mimics Hiccup at all. The Night Fury goes out of his way to do something no other Night Fury has done, playfully interact with a human being, and try to mirror what that human is doing.
After that comes the hilarious moment in HTTYD Hiccup starts to walk around the “drawing.” Toothless growls when Hiccup steps on a line and burbles openly when the Viking does not touch a line. It becomes a form of play between the two of them. It shows that Toothless holds positive stock in his drawing, and that he can screw around with Hiccup and quickly oscillate between growling and burbling calmly. Hiccup can tell the growls are not threatening… just warnings… just a positive interaction between the two of them.
It’s hysterically ironic that Toothless, for all he is “protective” of his art in the first film, just goes right through and plows through Valka’s art. He might take emotional stock in his own drawings, but he doesn’t mind messing up others’ works. He doesn’t even think about the consequences of scribbling through the map.
From what we can see of Toothless’ ice drawing, he’s not intentionally trying to draw some concrete picture. He’s just doing it because Valka is drawing, he’s in a happy, energetic mood, and he wants to imitate the vigilante dragon lady. What is hysterical is that Toothless, because he’s doing some so foreign to the dragon species, captivates and baffles Cloudjumper. For that matter, Toothless also demonstrates creativity and eagerness “drawing” because he runs out and grabs an entirely different tool to draw.
Toothless is smart enough to devise anything into a tool for his purpose. That’s pretty amazing. He uses a tree one time and an icicle as another.
The way that Hiccup responds to Toothless in HTTYD 2 I think says a lot. He looks up to his mother and shrugs, embarrassed, almost as though to nonverbally say, “Yeah. He does that.” It almost seems Toothless drawing in the dirt has become a playful habit. I imagine Toothless has done this far more than two times. It’s something that he picked up from Hiccup and has continued doing, just as he has continued to mimic smiles ever since he learned it from the young Viking.
Toothless takes up many of Hiccup’s actions, be it smiling or drawing, and incorporates it into his own actions. He does it to relate to humans when he’s in a cheerful mood. He goes about and has enormous fun drawing. And for us in the audience, it’s hilariously fun, too.
so finally I finished this animation I started animation last summer (there were a lot of other things I had to do so there wasn’t really much time). I love httyd and I hope you enjoy watching this loop! I hope this one doesn’t get stuck on the mobile app.