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How To Draw Your Dragon by LittleFireDragon How To Draw Your Dragon by LittleFireDragon

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

Add a Comment:
 
:iconsoifon101:
Soifon101 Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
AWSOME!!!!
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:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. :)
Reply
:iconsoifon101:
Soifon101 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
YOU'RE WELCOME.
Reply
:iconfoxytheawesomepirate:
FoxyTheAwesomePirate Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2015  New member Hobbyist Traditional Artist
cool, but the feet look kinda small
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:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Hm, so they do a bit - the front ones mostly. They could probably stand to be a little longer. This is an old drawing.
Reply
:iconfoxytheawesomepirate:
FoxyTheAwesomePirate Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2015  New member Hobbyist Traditional Artist
don't worry about it, its cool! I loooovvveee dragon sketches!😄
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:iconwatanukikun:
watanukikun Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2014
Thank you veery much!
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem. Glad you like it.
Reply
:iconmrtommaya:
MrTommaya Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2014
Thank you very much, kind sir.
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ma'am, actually. (Don't worry, it happens a lot!) 
But you're welcome. I'm glad I could help. :)
Reply
:iconmisakikinuta:
misakikinuta Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Student General Artist
i looked at this for 20 seconds to figure out the basic skull of the dragon im supposed to draw and already ive improved! Thank you for making this, long-term im sure it has beautiful results!
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! I'm glad it helped!
Reply
:iconragnarok6664:
Ragnarok6664 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Neat tutorial, the wings are the Key bit for me
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I have an extended tutorial on wings here: littlefiredragon.deviantart.co…
:) Glad it helped!
Reply
:iconverysuperawsumdood:
Verysuperawsumdood Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014
Thanks for the basic guide, this will likely be pretty helpful when I begin on my dragon sketches. :)
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:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad to be of service. :)
Reply
:iconloudlywhispering:
LoudlyWhispering Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I like it. This will certainly help me with my dragons. And nice pun, by the way. :)
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Heh. Thanks. :)
Reply
:iconmegankoss:
MeganKoss Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2014  Student Photographer
This is brilliant! Call me crazy but I believe Dragons could have existed! Because its anatomy is possible! :) This also helps me LOADS with drawing them! Thank youuuu :) 
Reply
:icondv02:
Dv02 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2014
I have a firm belief that humans will make dragons, once we have enough genetic research from most animals, like the R-Rex, Horse, and perhaps a hawk, with a bit of human cranial DNA to make it intelligent. It night not be able to breath fire or fly (on the first try), but with the leaps in medical advances we have (designer babies are possible now, just not allowed on ethnic grounds)... Of course, I think starting with a unicorn would be easier. Because one day a bored scientist will say, "why not?"
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:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
We've already made unicorns. You don't even need genetic engineering. Just patience and some fussing with the horn buds of young goats. :)
www.sideshowworld.com/9-ms-pi/…
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:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
*Addendum to previous comment*
Anyway I'm glad you appreciate this.
If my tutorials aren't enough, I suggest looking into dinosaur anatomy.
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hm. If dragons existed I doubt they were large, breathed fire, or had four legs. The wyvern build is more plausible.
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.
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:iconvoraciousamphy96:
VoraciousAmphy96 Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2014  Student General Artist
I'm learning how to draw dragons myself, yet not sure if using picture refs and drawing off them is a good thing.
I used tutorials to draw a whole dragons and like 5 heads.
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

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?

Reply
:iconvoraciousamphy96:
VoraciousAmphy96 Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2014  Student General Artist
You're making sense,I understood what you said.

What I do, is I tend to really not examine reference pictures I tend to follow them,because I really don't know how to draw the actual thing too well. LIke with some of my dragons I followed off a reference because I had no idea how to draw the actual thing. That's what I tend to do with my drawings,and I'm trying not to do that anymore. 
 And it's become more of a habit to look at the picture and follow it as I draw it,how would I fix that exactly ?


I do get the example, I need to really learn basics of drawing dragons and how they work,I've been just using tutorials, which I was starting to feel like they weren't really helping me, which they weren't very much. I think I just went to them because I was a beginner and had no idea how to draw a dragon head ,dragon,pokemon,etc. I'm trying to learn the anatomy and look a pictures to get ideas instead of just something I copy.

Following drawings and copying a reference is kinda a habit. When I am drawing,I look at the drawing and try to draw it by looking at it and following it.

I've been taught that I should actually examine my references, but the main thing my mind does is it goes, "I don't know how to draw that,maybe I should draw this that I'm seeing right now. I've been dependent on copying references to get good drawings for two months.
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

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!

Reply
:iconvoraciousamphy96:
VoraciousAmphy96 Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Student General Artist
Yeah,it is pretty hard to break from it, especially when your mind thinks of it as a habit. I mean,how to get out of doing that shouldn't be extremely hard, it'll just take awhile.

Hm,Skeletal references ? I could try doing that,and it could help better than doing what I currently do now, which is usually use a tutorial to draw a whole dragon..like the one that I drew on my page. Problem is ,with drawing, I don't get constructive criticism on the things I do draw on my own without any tutorials or refs. Reason I improved so fast with say writing was that I had someone to actually tell me what I was doing wrong and to fix.  I still got massive support for a new hobby though. I wish I would have told myself earlier I wanted to draw, so now I could be drawing well. I learned like 2 months ago when I first started that all artists started like me,not really knowing how to learn drawing something. Not sure if all copied refs, but I wouldn't know.

I'll try the skeletal references,that sounds like it'd teach me not to directly copy it and help me get better there. I've always wanted to draw what I draw, not copying what other people drew in some tutorial. Another thing I tend to struggle with is trying to not get discouraged when my drawing doesn't turn out as I would want it, but if I draw it on my own, I have my own standards. Feels like when I'm copying a ref, my standards are a bit too high. I've got a dragon OC, he's just very complexly designed and I'm not ready to draw him yet.

Question really is, is there some stuff it's good to use a tutorial on ?
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

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.

Reply
:iconvoraciousamphy96:
VoraciousAmphy96 Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Student General Artist
Yeah, I get why you drew it as rather a skeleton now, because it helps better to do that. I'm getting how dragons work after studying some more anatomy of them and some real animals, and I'm starting to see how the legs work exactly.
And the wings as well, I just realized today they were basically giant hands,not really so hard to draw. Next thing would be the muscles, which are going to really add more realism to it.

Yeah,that is true. I'll look into some tutorials that actually explain why the steps take place.
Or I could turn bad ones into good ones also, and try to see how they drew it.

I will definitely look into that.
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist

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.

Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconsherylocks:
SheryLocks Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is incredible!
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you like it.
Reply
:iconbonepawthecoyote:
BonepawtheCoyote Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Simply Fantastic!
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad you like it.
Reply
:iconcurlyfry2001:
curlyfry2001 Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2013  Student Digital Artist
there is something about this that is just so incredibly AWESOME!!!!Square Christmas 
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Well I'm glad you like it. Thank you.
Reply
:iconsomerrocks:
somerrocks Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
wow! you clearly took a lot of time and effor into makign this! this is great!
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist

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!

Reply
:iconsomerrocks:
somerrocks Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
haha i think you did great! keep workin hard your a great artist!
Reply
:iconcrimson-dragon-king:
Crimson-Dragon-King Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Very Nice
Reply
:iconincognitomallard:
IncognitoMallard Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is extremely helpful! ^u^ Thanks for the diagrams!!! I'd read three wing structure tutorials before this and STILL didn't quite understand...:P
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wings are difficult to understand unless you finally figure out that they're just distorted hands.
I'm glad this was useful.
Reply
:iconincognitomallard:
IncognitoMallard Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:nod: It was very useful! :salute:
Reply
:iconicreatewolf13:
ICreateWolf13 Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This actually helps a lot ^^
Reply
:iconblueviolinist13:
blueviolinist13 Featured By Owner May 8, 2013
thank you so much for the tutorial!
Reply
:iconquilava-lover:
Quilava-Lover Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thanks for this ref. I've been practicing dragons for quite a bit now, and cannot seem to get the hang of it. I have sketched the whole thing and I'm hoping it will help me later on. Really good work!!
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Good luck!
Reply
:iconquilava-lover:
Quilava-Lover Featured By Owner May 2, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thanks! Today i drew the head of a dragon, im starting to get better already. Thanks once again and I'm hoping it will help even more in the future!
Reply
:iconlittlefiredragon:
LittleFireDragon Featured By Owner May 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
If you need more guidance, I'd suggest purchasing a copy of *neondragon's book DragonArt.
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