How to Draw a Dragon
Table of Contents:
Learn Dragon Drawing
Dragons are fantastic creatures. Some are friendly, while others are fierce. They come in so many shapes, colors, and sizes. All these things are what make them so much fun to draw!
Before you start drawing the dragon, it’s important to get familiar with all the different types of dragons there are. Compare them and see what features they share. What makes them recognizable as a dragon? Is it the shape of their skull or the texture of their skin? Do dragons resemble crocodiles or lizards? Are their wings more similar to bats or birds? Maybe they’re a combination of all these animals. By basing your dragon’s body on real animals, you’ll get a more accurate-looking creature. It also helps to draw these real-life animals as practice before you create your imaginary one.
List of Supplies
The artist in the accompanying video used Arteza TwiMarkers for his dragon drawing. We suggest using them to get the same brilliant color and superb detailing he achieved. These dual-tipped markers have the advantage of being able to draw and color with a medium-sized tip on one end and have a finer tip on the other for the smallest of details.
Before you begin your dragon drawing, we recommend that you read the following steps and watch the video all the way through to be fully prepared.
Step 1. Start with quick sketches
The creation process starts with quick sketches. This is where the artist in the video establishes his dragon’s pose and starts working on the features that will make his dragon unique. He doesn’t put in a lot of details. Instead, he just uses a pencil and an eraser to quickly jot down the features he thinks are important and some poses that will express the dragon’s personality. When you do this, don’t worry if it takes dozens of sketches before choosing the features and poses that will work best for the main drawing.
HINT: The artist in the video uses a dragon’s body structure based on amphibians, primarily lizards and crocodiles.
The artist uses a light sketch to indicate the framework of the dragon.
Step 2. Draw the dragon’s skeleton & muscles
The skeleton is important because it will establish the dragon’s pose and proportions on the paper. These lines will define all parts of the dragon’s body — its head, neck, torso, tail, front feet, and wings.
Whichever animal you choose to base the dragon on will be the skeletal frame you will use. Just as the artist does, draw the skeleton of the animal with just a few lines. Don’t forget to mark all the joints and other connecting parts.
Now, the artist adds mass to the dragon’s skeleton by adding muscles. He uses thin, oval-shaped lines to define the volume of every body part. He gradually moves from the largest parts to the smallest ones.
The dragon takes shape when the artist adds the muscles.
Step 3. Add details
The artist starts working on detailing the dragon’s torso first. He then moves to the wings and neck, then the head, limbs, and tail. Once those details are finished, he draws more details on the head, ears, nose, eyes, and feet.
Now that these preliminary details are done, the artist gives more and more attention to the specifics of the dragon. He adds some definition to each muscle and skin texture bit by bit. He specifies the parts of the feet, such as toes and claws. He makes the wings and tail more detailed.
TIP: Use very light pencil lines for these details. You don’t have to use the pencil for smaller details and textures as these will be created using the markers. Most importantly, you don’t want the pencil lines underneath to show. Lightly run the eraser over the darkest pencil lines to lighten them.
Step 4. Fill in the background
The artist uses a black permanent marker to create a solid background, leaving a few slightly transparent lines to indicate the base in which the dragon is standing. To form the texture of stone for this base, the artist uses sharp and sweeping gestures.
Be extra careful around the dragon’s body so as not to get the black ink where you don’t want it to go. If necessary, fill in the areas along the outline of the dragon with the fine point end of the TwiMarker.
TIP: To get a solid background, alternate between black markers to give each one a “rest” and keep fresh ink flowing on the paper.
Step 5. Go from light to dark
The artist uses the “light to dark” principle by starting with his lightest colors and working up to the darkest ones. He starts with bright yellow traveling through the dragon’s skin in a specific way, which in the end will add to the reptile-like look of the dragon. This must be done in the very beginning so that he doesn’t accidentally paint over these lines or lose their trajectory in the working process.
Step 6. Add shadows by layering gray tones
Next, he uses gray tones to create the shadows, starting with the light tints and gradually layering them to darken the shadows. Notice that he doesn’t interrupt this process to work on specific details, but works on all the elements at the same time, alternating yellow and gray and adding a bit of blue to the tail.
It is best to get to the needed color gradually, only using the darkest and most saturated colors when you are close to finishing your drawing. Because these markers are semi-transparent, you can layer lines over one another to achieve complex color combinations and some spectacular effects. However, this technique has its limits, so don’t use more than 4-5 layers at a time. Excessive amount of layers will inevitably lead to muddy colors as well as roughing up the texture of the paper.
TIP: Some colors don’t mix well together when layered. To prevent unwanted colors, test the layering of colors on a scrap piece of paper first.
Step 7. Put in the fine details
By switching to the fine tip end of the marker, the artist can make the details that need the thinnest lines. He uses it to put in the veins in the wings, the smallest scales, some folds in the skin to give it more texture, the nails on claws, and the pupil in the eye. To make sure he doesn’t smudge any of the previous colors, he uses a separate sheet of paper to cover those areas as he works and until he is completely finished.
Congratulations! You’ve just drawn an amazing dragon.
We hope reading this guide and watching the video will inspire you to draw lots more dragons and encourage you to try other drawings using Arteza TwiMarkers.