Well, I couldn't help but be blown away when I saw this piece hanging around my messages box, so I figured it deserved a critique (After all, it takes less time to write honest thoughts than it does to complete an epic piece.) So let's begin.
First of all; my goodness you've gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to drawing dragons (I kinda have a thing for them since I've got a necklace and ring). Everything from the powerful time-honoured wings to the incredibly long tail has been done really well. Allow me to break it down as I see it:
Vision: Your title "A Hope Within Shadows" brings to mind that no matter how bad life seems to get, there's always the belief that you'll be able to experience the "peak of existence", everything great about life. A great concept, though I do believe it could've been better executed.
The supposed "light" that acts as hope against the darkness just doesn't feel too obvious to me. Perhaps I'm not viewing the picture in the right way or something, but I feel it could've been done better. However, maybe that was the idea to begin with; hope should always be there, but never clear-cut. I especially enjoy your vision, and you've presented it exceptionally well, but I still feel it could've been given some extra punch. Four out of five here.
Originality: Essentially, you've drawn a dragon; a quick search on this site reveals more than three MILLION deviations related to that subject; where some could be worse, but definitely some could be better. I cannot flat-out call this original, in that respect.
However, the intricate designs placed on the dragon (suggesting it's a lot more than a simple beast), have certainly surprised me and for the better. The wings especially; it's as if you gave them a time-honoured design that suggests the dragon has been there, seen it all... had it all happen before.
Really taking the time to add those original, intricate designs scores highly from me. With everything taken into account, I'm more than happy to award you four stars for originality.
Technique: Arguably, your technique could be better. Only, I'm not the one who'll be arguing. Plain and simple, this piece, considering the mediums used, is flat-out incredible and very skilfully created. Again, perhaps the light could've been made more prominent, but I've already picked on that, and it's really a minor issue. I'm happy to award the full five stars here.
Impact: Ditto for the above. In more detail, although my life (personally) is pretty good, I can clearly understand and feel what you're communicating through this art. Nobody should feel like there's no hope left in the world, since that's one of the worst feelings you can experience.
Also, a piece like this will allow everyone to believe that life can truly be wonderful if you allow it to be. And of course, the sheer design skill and the background that emphasises your artwork just blows my mind to smithereens (I wonder who made that word up...) Full five stars from me.
All in all, you've done fantastically well and if this sort of thing is what I can expect from you in the near future... let's just say you might have a watcher on your hands. Congratulations, it's a worthy addition to DeviantArt!
Thank you The light was supposed to come from the jewel that the dragon was holding in its talons and I apologize if it wasn't too clear. After looking at it again, I see what you mean and I can most definitely fix when I have the chance
And for the part about originality, I understand that too. I've seen so many pictures of dragons, and I probably could have gone with another creature, like maybe a gryphon or something cool I just got struck with a sudden urge to draw another dragon XD
Hey, as my critique stated clearly, you've done a marvellous job regardless of me taking points off for vision and originality. I can understand the light coming from the jewel, but perhaps, if you were using Creative Suite or another similar program, you might try and apply a glow effect or something to really make it stand out.
And hey, there's no problem with another dragon. The more dragons you can draw, the more skilled you become: that much was clear in that piece. By all means, if you want to try something different, don't stop yourself, but understand also where your best work comes from.
Glad you're happy with my critique and look forward to more work from you.