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Lesson 2: Illustrating a Dragon in Pencil

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OK, here is lesson number two, how to draw a dragon. This is difficult for me to explain so most of this instructional is carried by the pictures. Be patient,I can't stress that enough! Here we go...

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

  • patience, patience, and more patience
  • a sharp 2H pencil
  • 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 - 4)
  1. Using your 2H pencil, lightly draw the base for your dragon. Remember, the 2H pencil is pretty hard so you can't get dark lines with it no matter how hard you press. Start with circles and ovals to mark the major joints of your dragon. Use a large, roughly circular shape for the chest with an overlapping oval for the body. Use a roughly oval shape for each thigh. Draw a circle on either side of the chest for the shoulders. Draw an oval for the head with a smaller oval below it for the snout. Connect the head to the chest with a line for the neck. Draw a front center line down the body.
    Figure 2-1.

  2. Draw cirlces for the feet and hands of the dragon. Draw a sinuous line for the tail coming from the underside of the dragon. Put away the 2H pencil, you will not need it here on in. With a sharp 4B pencil, connect your joints with smooth lines. Draw in the wings with a few quick strokes. Flesh out the face. (See Lesson 1 for more details on drawing the head). Hint at muscles in the thighs and body with some lines. Draw in the other side of the neck and draw a a front center line that curves from the front of the chest to the underside of the head. Sketch in a few neck plates.
    Figure 2- 2.

  3. Continue building the head. Connect the arms to the shoulders and sketch in the talons. I draw dragon's hands much like those of a human, so if you are having trouble study how your own hand moves. Do the same with the feet, only the toes are shorter than the fingers. The hind legs are built like those of a cat or dog. Draw in the rest of the tail, starting with it thick and tapering to a point at the end.
    Figure 2-3.

  4. Flesh out the wings. Just follow the guides that you had drawn before. You can finish the wings with little claws if you like. Draw in the belly and tail plates. Add ropy muscles at the neck leading back toward the wings. Draw the claws onto the hands and feet.
    Figure 2-4.

Now you have the basic shape for your dragon. Next elaborate on it and add shading.

Here I turn you loose. I have kind of run out of ways to describe exactly what I am doing here, but you can see by the images. You can add scales and shading, or extra spines and so on. Have fun with it. If you are worried about runing what you have so far, practice a little on a scratch piece of paper.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6
  • 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.
  • I went ahead and made a finished scene after I completed the dragon, though I wouldn't recomend that approach. It is much easier to create a sketch of scene with all the elements planned out before you complete just one element (like the dragon.)

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