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Lesson 1:Illustrating a Dragon's Head in Pencil

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These instructions are intended for anyone with some patience and the desire to learn how to draw a dragon’s head in my style. The visual aids cover the process step by step so pay close attention to them. And remember, practice is key, so don’t be discouraged if your first try does not appear how you intended!

Before you draw anything you must first gather the appropriate materials. Here is what you will need:

  • patience, patience, and more patience
  • a sharp graphite pencil, preferably a 4B drawing pencil but anything under an HB will do
  • drawing paper: 70lb sketching paper is ideal
  • an eraser, the Magic Rub vinyl eraser is the best one for the job
  • a flat surface and somewhere you can work undisturbed

The Basics (figures 1 - 5)

  1. Start with the eye of your dragon. It is the eyes that set its emotion – happy or angry, sleepy, sly etc. The eye is usually seed shaped. To draw it, start with the top lid in one stroke and completing with a second stroke for the bottom lid.
    Figure 1.

  2. Flesh out the eye area with wrinkles and draw in the brow above the eye. The brow is just an arch above the eye that generally follows the contours of the top lid. Add wrinkles over and under the eye to show folds of flesh.
    Figure 2.

  3. Draw the nostrils in. This sets the position of the dragon’s head.
    Figure 2.

  4. Next use circles and ovals to build the top of the dragon’s head. Use a small circle at the snout with a larger circle for the forehead. Connect the circles with an oval and draw a centerline down the middle of them.
    Figure 3.

  5. Roughly following the shapes, draw the profile of the dragon’s head from snout-tip to the base of the skull.
    Figure 3.

  6. With this in place you can now draw the mouth and lower jaw. The mouth line moves up from the tip of the snout then runs roughly parallel to the lower jaw. Show some teeth over the lip for a bit of attitude. The lower jaw begins behind the eye and narrows sharply between the eye and the nostril.
    Figure 4.

  7. Draw the arch of the cheekbone below the eye. The shape of the cheekbone is similar to that of a human’s. Figure 5.

  8. Add a pair of horns to the top of its head. Start just behind the highest point of the brow. The horns can be as elaborate or simple as you wish, choose a shape that compliments the head.
    Figure 5.

Presto! Now you have the basic shape for your dragon’s head. Next elaborate on it and add shading.

Finishing Touches

  1. With the horns in place you can now add the ear frills. Begin by drawing a series of lines radiating from a point just behind the cheek.
    Figure 5.

  2. Connect the outer points of the spines with a sweeping line to make it look like stretched skin – similar to the webbed feet of a frog. Add a second line to each spine, thick at the base and tapering to a point at the end. Shade one side of each section of the frill, darkest next to the spine.
    Figure 6.

  3. Emphasize the features of the face and shade where necessary. Shading is used to cause objects to recede in space so shade where ever you want to add a ridge, an indentation, show something is overlapping, etc.
    Figure 6 - 7.

  4. Finishing touches include hinting at scales, a line of spines down the centerline of the head, adjusting the eye and so on. To create interesting spines, vary their size and shape. Remember to add the pupil to the eye. The pupil is usually slitted like a cat’s eye. The placement of the pupil determines the direction the dragon is looking.
    Figure 6-7.
Figure 1

  • Don’t become discouraged if your dragon is not coming out as you expected; keep working on it and experiment freely. A dragon is an imaginary creature so it can look like anything you want.
  • If you become frustrated don’t wad up your drawing, snap your pencil in half and swear never to draw again; just set it aside and take a short break.

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