How To Draw A Dragon – Tips From 5 Artists

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How To Draw A Dragon
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Dragon Fun Facts

Dragons are beautiful, majestic and complex creatures. And yet, so many of us are so deeply in love with them!

Did you know that the word “dragon” comes from ancient Greek and means “to see strong” and from Latin dracon – huge serpent?

Also, the most well-known dragons come from two distinctly different traditions: European Dragon and Chinese Dragon.

  • The European Dragon is typically depicted as a large, fire-breathing, scaly, horned, lizard-like creature. Their blood is a symbol of a long life, and sometimes has poisonous properties;
  • And the Chinese Dragons are most commonly depicted as snake-like and with four legs; They symbolize powers (mostly control over water), strength and are a good luck charm for the worthy ones.

 

History aside, they are just so awesome to look at!

And so they have been featured in many of the top popular and loved films, such as: Game Of Thrones, Merlin, Harry Potter, Shrek, The Neverending Story, How To Train Your Dragon, Spirited Away, The Hobbit, Lord Of The Rings and many more!

No wonder artists throughout their careers draw dragons at least a couple of times!

That is why I decided to ask a couple of artists to share their process of drawing dragons with us 🙂 I asked them to go ahead and provide you with any helpful information on how they approach dragons in their art, as well as to answer some intriguing questions!

 

Artists featuring today are: Sanjay Charlton,  Dennis SabinoYuriy SkorohodHana Kuro, and Milena Młynarska.

Go ahead and check out other pieces by them, but for now here is a list of tips we’ve all been waiting for:

Sanjay Charlton 

Bewitched and Betrayed
Bewitched and Betrayed

 

Sanjay Charlton is An Illustrator and a Concept Artist based in Jamaica.

“I call myself an illustrator first and foremost, if only to impress people, yet I have skills and passions in many areas of animation, graphic and web design. Okay, I lied a little. I’m not that passionate about web design. But I seem to have a mind that’s tuned to that sort of thing. The bit about impressing people is true though. It happened once.

It is all about great ideas, not just layouts. The creative process must always help a Communication Strategy by magnifying the ideas and amplifying its overall impact. I believe it is my duty as an illustrator and graphic designer to expertly communicate my client’s message.”

( Resource: Sanjay Charlton Behance Page )

Anna: What inspired you to draw this dragon?

Sanjay: I really like anything fantasy and anything powerful and dragons seem to be the weapon of mass destruction of the genre. So how could I not?

A: Did you collect any reference material or do some research before you started?

S: Yes, I looked at a lot of reptiles, especially for textures. I looked at various interpretations of dinosaurs and most importantly I looked at how other artists interpreted various types of dragons in different styles.

A: When you just begin the process – what o you think about? Are you trying to understand the skeleton/muscles or how do you work?

S: Primarily I think about the pose and how everything else supports that. Form, skeletal makeup, muscles, skin texture and then lighting.

A: How do you make sure that this fantastical creature looks believable and true to life?

S: Outside of the structure, texture and lighting, imperfections go along way. Teeth that jagged and misaligned, textures that are not uninformed and so on.

A: What part was the hardest to draw and which part did you enjoy the most?

S: Simultaneously the head of the dragon was the most challenging and most rewarding to see completed. I really wanted to feel something when looking into the eyes of the creature.

A: Any other tips/tricks you want to mention to our readers?

S: Don’t expect to get it right the first time. Explore, find ways to make it better even after it’s “done”. So that you can keep getting better at it.

Bewitched and Betrayed-davazaz
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P.S. This art piece took Sanjay approximately 40-50 hours to complete! So as he said before, don’t get discouraged if it’s your first time drawing/painting a dragon! 🙂

 

Dennis Sabino

Dragon & Girl
Dragon & Girl

Dennis Sabino is an Illustrator and a Designer based in Brazil.

And here is a video process of him painting the dragon:

 

Yuriy Skorohod

Asian Dragon
Asian Dragon

 

Yuriy Skorohod is a Dotwork artist from Minsk.

 

Anna: What inspired you to draw this dragon? 
Yuriy: It’s simple – it was a customer’s order) when I heard the theme of the drawing – immediately agreed 🙂

 

A: Did you collect any reference material or do some research before you started? 
Y: Sure, before starting work on a new art, I’m always looking for inspiration in other interesting similar artworks, 
then I try to come up with my own idea.

 

A: When you just begin the process – what do you think about? Are you trying to understand the skeleton/muscles or how do you work? 
Y: First of all, I’m trying to imagine the whole composition of the art, how and where will be located all the details of the figure, then I do a pencil sketch and of course I’m trying to convey the structure of skeleton/muscles most realistically.

 

A: How do you make sure that this fantastical creature looks believable and true to life? 
Y: In my works I try to pay much attention to the volume of objects, their light-shadows, details, it helps the picture to look the most realistic.

 

A: What part was the hardest to draw and which part did you enjoy the most? 
Y: For me, the most difficult part of the picture is the beginning, most like to work at the final stage, to work through all the details)

 

A: Any other tips/tricks you want to mention to our readers?
Y: The more you draw , the better the result will be 🙂 
Asian Dragon Process
Asian Dragon Process

 

Hana Kuro 

Sky Dragon
Sky Dragon

 

Artist name: Hana Kuro
Real name: Virág Fekete

Nationality: Hungarian

Anna: What inspired you to draw this dragon?
Hana Kuro: This artwork wasn’t meant to be painted for the first time.
The basic idea was a small sketch for a tattoo to supplement my art signature tattoo under my right collarbone. Symbolizing 3 qualities within it which are peace, freedom and might, as these were missing from my life that time, due to work and personal life problems. I’ve got to like it so much that I have decided to remake the base idea with more details.
A: Did you collect any reference material or do some research before you started?
H: For this piece, I didn’t do any research before starting it, I only did some when in need of working out other styles or something with high difficulty e.g.: not basic angles of view. Basically, this painting symbolizes artistic freedom. Sometimes it’s good to use the rules which we’ve learned without reference, or even break those as well.
Sky Dragon Sketches
Sky Dragon Sketches
A: When you just begin the process – what do you think about? Are you trying to understand the skeleton/muscles or how do you work?
H: At the beginning of the process, I followed my own basic style of “how to draw a dragon”, which is a fusion of different animals with reptiles and dinosaurs. Mixing animals or giving new features to existing ones, are pretty decent way of making new races.
This dragon (sky dragon) has come from: monitor lizards (face, long tail / body build), horse (face, neck, strong thighs, ears), deer (horns), birds (feathers, eyes a bit sideways for bigger eyesight), fishes (scales) and human (arms).
As dragons are fantasy creatures, no one can know how they really look like, how their anatomy works., so if you follow the anatomy of the mixed animals hard to fail with those. However you can draw any kind of dragons until they have the features of lizards/dinosaurs, with the ability of flying or splitting fire. These define a dragon the most accurately, but if someone has already seen one in real life and knows their anatomy then ask them how to draw a dragon 😉
A: What part was the hardest to draw and which part did you enjoy the most? 
H: Well, I guess the trickiest part for me was where the dragon fades under the clouds, like it’s floating but still standing still on clouds which is already an impossible action. Also the hand/paw part of the dragon was a real challenge too and I’m still not truly satisfied with it. Had the idea of making it a bit translucent like the tail, but it just didn’t work well, as I would have needed some other background than sky to make the low transparency see-able. and also wanted to make it have a river of energy in it but it didn’t came out as well as on the thighs.
A: Any other tips/tricks you want to mention to our readers?

H: Sure! For the dragon:

– in my opinion, dragons usually have a really wide eyesight with a small blind spot in it, so eyes are more sideways than forward-looking;

– they mostly have spikes thorns, horns, especially the one on the nose or at the top of the head somewhere, which could be for breaking the egg from the inside;

– 2 circles, 1 small and 1 big, with a gap between each other is a good base for building up a face of a dragon;

– usually, the older dragons should have more details e.g.: thorns (either broken or intact), a lot of projections on the skin, lots of wrinkles all over the body;

For the painting:

– try to work your whole piece out on 1 layer, except those parts which are hiding behind or coming forward;

– have breaks during the process;
– use pastel colors first – as a base;
– fool around with the full painting to get more inspiration;
– figure out the direction of light, either with some basic colors or arrows;
– use more natural than vivid colors;
– have fun and be creative!
Sky Dragon Process Part 1
Sky Dragon Process Part 1
Sky Dragon Process Part 2
Sky Dragon Process Part 2

 

Milena Młynarska

Dragons - a set of fantasy cover illustrations
Dragons – a set of fantasy cover illustrations

Milena Mlynarska is an artist and an illustrator from Poland.

” I create custom artwork, storyboards and illustrations for individual clients and large companies alike. I’ve completed numerous projects in game, advertising, multimedia, gallery and print publishing industries. My clients include: Techland, Juice, Ten Square Games, Foksal Group, Nasza Ksiegarnia, Zysk, Fabryka Slow. Usually I combine freehand drawing with digital tools (Photoshop + Wacom tablet) in my work. ”

( Resource: Milena Mlynarska website )

 

Anna: Please share with our readers your process of creating the two pieces 🙂

Milena: The “making of” of two of my covers for the Chronicles of a Torn World fantasy series:

The publishing house sent me a short description of the scenes I had to draw for each cover. One was a ghost dragon preying in a cleft and the second one was describing a moment when a big black dragon attacks a smaller white dragon.
I started from draft sketches showing up a general idea and composition. (concepts)
concepts
concepts
After approval, I started to collect references to render the final images. For dragons, best references are all kind of reptiles and amphibia for sure! I was looking also for other dragon artworks as an inspiration.
My creative process was very organic, I can say.
Here are some W.I.P.s:

 

How To Draw A Dragon WIP
WIP 1 and WIP 2

And Then Onto the final art! 🙂

Next Steps

Learning from the process of many people (and not just one) will help you to better understand the process of drawing and painting dragons, as well as discover many cool tips while staying within your own style!

Now, I encourage you to follow our artist’s tips and create some majestic creatures!

If you still find that it’s not enough information, I would suggest checking out these 5 Awesome Dragon Books for further exploration and learning!

And if you would like to learn more, I suggest you check out “How To Draw A Dragon 7 Awesome Books” 🙂

  1. How to Draw and Paint Dragons: A Complete Course Built Around These Legendary Beasts

  2. How to Draw Dragons: in simple steps

  3. Dragonart Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon

  4. How to Draw Dragons

  5. Dracopedia The Great Dragons: An Artist’s Field Guide and Drawing Journal

 

  • These books go in no particular order, they are just pretty awesome to study from, get inspired by and overall to look at! 🙂

 

I hope you enjoyed the read!

In the comments below please let me know what else you would like to learn about? 😉

 

Good luck on Your Art Path,

 Anna, Your Art Bud 😉

 

Blog Posts to check out next → ” 14 Best Figure Drawing Books For Beginners”

and “How To Make Money Online As An Artist In 2018”

 

2 Comments

  1. Himz

    Wow, THAT’S AWESOME.

    I really love you have shown everything so easily. I have always been interested in drawing and sketching. It really impressed me how to draw a dragon.
    Am surely gonna buy these books and will recommend it to my other pals.
    I am not good at using Photoshop but drawing in real would be much fun.
    Thank you for sharing.

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