This is my guide to dragon anatomy. It is not a traditional tutorial that shows you step-by-step, "here's how to draw this picture of a dragon", because nobody ever learned anything from that, and if they did it was from subconsciously doing what I'm skipping to here.
You see, a tutorial that walks you through but never explains doesn't teach you how to draw, it teaches you how to copy. To truly draw, you need to learn to See. Seeing is understanding how something works, so you can picture it in your head and understand how it all connects. For animals, this requires you to know how the bones work.
Thus, I've shown a reference, rather than a how-to guide. I've explained in detail, and hopefully by my explanations and good old observation, you'll be able to figure it out.
Give a man a tutorial, he'll fill a page. Give him a reference and he'll fill a sketchbook.
One more thing: practice. I took years to get this good. You won't get there overnight. Deal with it. Just keep trying.
Note: Should be antorbital fenestra. I keep typing anti for some reason.
Part 1: Basics
Part 2: Skull
Part 3: Eyes
Part 4: Basic Flesh
Part 5-1: Back Legs
Part 5-2: Front Legs
Part 6-1: Bat Wings
Part 7: Torso
Anyway I'm glad you appreciate this.
If my tutorials aren't enough, I suggest looking into dinosaur anatomy.
That being said, by that definition of a dragon, they did indeed exist - we just now call them pterosaurs.
anwo.com/store/media/rhamphorh… Meet Rhamphorhynchus. He's small and doesn't breathe fire. But he has leathery wings, talons, an arrow-tipped tail, and a mouth full of sharp teeth!
The thing about dragons is they're just a distorted vision of real creatures. Did giant, fire breathing monsters ever live? Almost certainly not. Did things exist that we could look at and say "Yeah if I were a medieval peasant and I found that skeleton, I'd think it was a dragon"? Absolutely. Only today we recognize most such creatures as pterosaurs or dinosaurs - which, incidentally, is what I base my dragon anatomy on.
The thing about references and tutorials is that tutorials generally walk you through it step by step without actually teaching you how anything works. It's memorization rather than learning. And it teaches you to draw only the one dragon it shows you how to draw.
Some tutorials, like those from DragonArt by neondragon actually EXPLAIN things, and that makes them a weird tutorial/reference hybrid. These are good.
The ones that just say "Hey draw a circle. Now draw another circle. Connect them like this. No, I won't explain why, just do it..." are not so good. It teaches very little and if you try to repose the dragon or draw it from another angle you're left wondering what to do because the tutorial never covered that.
Of course, merely copying a reference picture isn't much better. Again, that's mechanical rather than learning. A reference picture is intended not for you to copy but for you to examine. To look at it and go "OH so THAT'S how that works, okay, I understand now!" And if you understand it, physically, you're more able to draw it.
It's the difference between memorizing a multiplication table and actually learning how multiplication works. Either way, if you have memoried that 2 x 2 is 4, you'll be able to multiply two and two together. But if you only memorized it, you won't necessarily be able to apply the same principle to three and three, which you could do if you learned the basics of multiplication instead of memorizing tables.
Am I making sense or am I talking gibberish again?
Ah, yeah. That's a problem a lot of people have, learning to break out of just drawing the lines they see and actually figure out how those lines connect.
That's why I like using skeletal references so much. They force you to not directly copy (since you're usually not drawing a skeleton), but give you proportions to work from and joints to look at.
Best of luck!
Yep, that's why I drew this reference as a skeleton rather than a full fleshed out dragon. So people could look at the underlying structure and see how the thing works, then flesh it out on their own.
There's no one topic that a tutorial is good for. What matters more is HOW the tutorial is written - whether it's giving mindless instructions (bad) or EXPLAINING why the steps take place (good).
I seriously recommend the DragonArt book by neondragon. If you can find a copy it's worth the money.
Oh, and one more thing.
You might also want to look into dinosaur anatomy, especially of the theropods (meat-eaters, like T.rex and raptors), since dragons are very dinosaur-like in build, especially their claws and heads.
For wings, you might want to look at bats, as their wings are also just big hands, and in fact are what most dragon wings are based on.
Hehe, not really. I doodled it up in like 40 minutes because I didn't have any homework to do during study hall that day. The annotations and prettying it up only took another half hour. XD
But thanks! I'm glad my doodles are as high quality as things I actually work on!
I'm glad this was useful.