How to Draw Dragons

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Introduction: How to Draw Dragons

About: Holy cow, celebrating over seven years with this website. Formerly known as RocketScientist2015.

Ahh the dragon, the one monster to appear in nearly every human culture, it is little wonder many seek to recreate it. This Instructable will attempt to shed light on drawing this marvelous creature of our imagination (or perhaps not just of our imagination?)...
This Instructable maybe slightly advanced for some beginner artists, for a very, good, very simple Instructable on drawing dragons, see How to Draw Dragons, by Keith-Kid.
This is also my answer for one of Life's Burning Questions.

Step 1: Let's Get Started...

This Instructable is to give you a brush up on dragon speculative biology (for a better understanding of how they may work), and a step-by-step on sketching a dragon.
Materials you will need to complete the drawing:

Sketch pencils, I used mostly a 0.5mm mechanical pencil with HB lead
Eraser, I personally recommend kneaded rubber erasers
Paper, I used parchment, just because I like the smoothness
Light, good lighting is essential to any artwork
Surface, to draw on, I prefer angled, but flat will do

Just because it's funny, watch this:


Step 2: Dragonology 101

To be able to draw anything, you must know what you are drawing. Here's a crash-course on dragonology. To skip this relatively important step and just draw a freaking winged lizard, head to step 4.

Here's some links to several sources of speculative dragon biology and a bit 'o dragon lore
Here be Dragons! <--Rather ok, lots of lore
D.R.A.G.O.N.S. <-- A wee far fetched, but very detailed and thought provoking
~~~DRAGONS~~~ <--Hasn't been updated in a decade, some good art though
Animal Planet: Dragons <--Oh My Spaghedeity! Awesome! Mostly video however, but gives you an idea how they move
Wikipedia, Dragons <--Good ol' Wikipedia

My Thoughts on Dragonolgy:

Origins? For starters, I feel that dragons, if the did/do exist, would be a highly evolved reptilian animal that either branched off from early theropod dinosaurs, or from early Monitors, or Iguanidae like-reptiles, for these species exhibit many dragon like traits (like, OMS those ickle buggers bite hard!).

2 legs or 4? My guess is 2 legged, 2 winged. However all gliding reptiles use flaps of skin, not wings like a bat. This suggests that it is possible for a dragon to have 4 legs and a set of glider "wings" but I doubt it could get bigger than 1 meter in length. This said, I go for the 2 legged bat winged velociraptor (but bigger).

Fire breathing Easy, flint stones are picked up and carried in mouth, and when fire breathing is desired, they are simply clacked about with the tounge whilst the beast reverse farts (through the mouth somehow, more of a burp really). Alternatively, flammable poison may be spat and lit in the same manner. Poison spitting + fire breath would be pretty awesome...

Coloration As you may know, some reptiles can changecolor. Much of my life I have watched with fascination as the lizards around my house battled for dominance, utilizing there ability to change color to intimidate there opponents. Color changing is not limited to anoles and chameleons, although I can't find any "official" documention, a wide variety of reptiles and amphibians can change with mood and body temperature. One fairly dull looking lizard, the Texas Spiny (<--fearsome up close), can turn it's underbelly a brilliant blue when excited. So in short, dragons can theoretically be any color.

Food Well, probably not human virgins, LOL i think that was pervy minstrels day dreaming. My guess would be deer, pigs, fish, etc... Feeding habits would probably bee akin to eagles, just larger.

Behavior In my opinion, like a great big bird of prey.

Intelligence High, able to understand most emotions, but probably not capable of speech. May be domesticated and capable of learning complex commands.

Step 3: Dragon Examples/Models

Generally it is a good idea to have a model for your artwork. But by the general nature of dragon and fantasy artwork, models are rather hard to find (dude if Elvish models were easy to find...). So we will do the next best thing... check out other peoples' work. It's not plagiarism, since we aren't copying there work, so don't feel bad about drawing dragons and whatnot very similar to someone else's. Some of the links in step 2 have a lot of artwork. Go ahead and check them out, save some of them and pull them up on screen while your drawing. Believe me, having some sort of reference makes the task much easier and less time consuming. Here are some more works that aren't on the links I gave that were very helpful for me.

Step 4: ''Now'' We'll Draw a Dragon

Right, time to crack out your art supplies listed in step 1.

A short note before we begin
I am not a great artist
Nor am I a pretty good artist
I'm just a kid who likes drawing things that fly about in his head
For that reason don't limit yourself to what I am showing you. Draw what you want.
We'll sketch a bipedal (2legged) dragon moving about on the ground. Due to the nature of sketching, you will find instructions on the images as notes. Once done with this simple pencil sketch, go ahead and add color with whatever medium you have handy (paints, pencils, ink...)

I'll add tutorials on a dragon with rider, and an Oriental once I have the time.

On the thought of time, for a simple sketch like this, it doesn't take long to draw it (just it takes me awhile to scan upload post etc...), don't use the excuse of not having enough time to avoid drawing.

Step 5: Conclusion

Presto! You've drawn a halfway decent picture of a dragon, slap yourself on the back.
Now what? Well simply put, keep drawing, it's the only way you will get better at it. When I get some time, I'll add a tutorial on drawing a dragon with its rider (it'll be the same dragon and gal as in the picture I showed you), and drawing Oriental dragons.

Suggestions and comments are welcome!

Live long and prosper,
RocketScientist2015

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    102 Discussions

    I've drawn a few derpy dragons myself!

    AAAH, Have to fight the Grammar Nazi urge. Must Not Complain About Spelling And Punctuation! AAAAH!

    1 reply

    Sir, I must advise that you correct your own grammar first. It is completely hypocritical to say that you're a "Grammar Nazi" (which, being the grandson of a Nazi, I find highly inappropriate), and then spend the entire next sentence capitalizing everything (especially "A", which even when a large number of words need to be capitalized [ex. titles], "A" would still be incorrect. You wouldn't capitalize it.). Also, you once again capitalized the word "Have", when instead, you needed to have "I" first. Please, learn your grammar before trying to correct someone else's.

    Sincerely, the man with a PhD, Gerard Emilio James

    Whenever i type in how to draw ... cars and models come up and im like i typed HOW TO DRAW A DRAGON

    Sterp 2 dragonology 101:

    Fire breathing Easy, flint stones are picked up and carried in mouth, and when fire breathing is desired, they are simply clacked about with the tounge whilst the beast reverse farts (through the mouth somehow, more of a burp really). Alternatively, flammable poison may be spat and lit in the same manner. Poison spitting + fire breath would be pretty awesome...

    I always though that dragons had "fire glands" much like our spit glands but filled with a flammable substance the consistency depending on the species of dragon which was ignited by a small "spark plug" between the glands.

    I am no chemist, so I apologize if I sound like a moron. It doesn't make sense, that fire-breathing would require an actual ignition, unless the creatures were/are intelligent enough to understand the concept of needing tools to complete certain tasks. On the one hand, it could be argued that dragons were/are that intelligent, and understood it enough to teach their young. Leaving each young to figure it out on their own would be counterproductive to the whole point of racial evolution (whether a species survives long-term or not). More likely, it may be/have been that the hydrogen and platinum were/are combined and accelerated (possibly with a bio-acid of some sort if not methane as a byproduct of digestion (burp) and expelled with force from the mouth.
    Ooh, and I did see that faux documentary, my favorite right up there with the faux werewolf one. I intend to order those on DVD ASAP.

    TROGDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR! TROGDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR! Trogdor was a MAN! I mean, he was a DRAGON MAAN! Or, um...maybe was just a DRAGON....um... But he was still TROGDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR! TROGDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR! Burninating the countryside! Burninating the peasants! Burninating all the peoples! In their thatch-roofed COTAGEEEEEEEEEEEEES! THATCH-ROOFED COTAGEEEEEEEEEEEEES! And the Trogdor comes in the NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT! Preeeeow!

    4 replies