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Drawing Dragon Bodies

[ Dragon Bodies ] [Legs ] [ Finalizing the drawing ] [ Skeletal Theory ]

[ Adding Dragon Wings ]

[ New! Drawing Dragon Bodies 2 - Front View Sitting ]

Another drawing tutorial by Dee Dreslough ( Feel free to email me, but no criticisms or flames please. I don't get paid for this y'know... :-) Feel free to use the art in this tutorial however you like.

Drawing the main body of a dragon

Every dragon starts from an egg... This oval represents the ribcage of the dragon.

Next, you draw another egg next to the first..slightly overlapping. This represents the space where the hips are. Tails are easy to add from the hips...just draw two lines that join at the end. Try to taper the tail evenly all the way to the end. If you draw the lines parallel and then end them in a point, it'll look a bit like a cat's tail.

Add an oval to the front of the ribcage. This is the meat of the shoulders of the dragon. From there, you can place the head's main circle, and a smaller circle for the end of the muzzle. Connect the muzzle to the head with two lines. Then, you can create the neck with the two lines going from the back of the head to the shoulders. If this was a short, horse necked dragon, I'd have brought the lines down from the head directly to the shoulders, but he's a long necked dragon with his neck proudly arched. Now you've got the basic form of the main body.


Legs are tricky. Depending on your 'beliefs' about dragon anatomy, leg designs can vary widely. In this tutorial, I make the basic assumption that dragon legs are like cat or dog legs. From the base of the shoulder circle, draw a small oval. This represents the bicep. From there, you can draw a longer, thinner foreleg oval. The oval for the thigh should start higher on the hip oval, as it connects directly to the hips. I'll go into skeletal theory later, which will explain why the forelegs start so low in the drawing. But, in the case of the back legs, they connect up toward the hips. The second oval is the equivalent of a human calf muscle.

Next, you can draw two circles on the ends of the forelegs. These are the base for the front paws. Then, you can draw a long almost rectangular oval off the end of the calf muscle oval. Where the calf and the rectangular oval connect is the heel. The long oval is the long bones of the foot of the dragon - perfect for leaping. The ovals at the end are the paws and toes.

Tracing the Form - Finalizing the drawing

Now that you've got the forms down, you use these as guides for the true drawing. Where the ovals connect under the skin, you don't follow the curve. For example, on the upper oval for the thigh. You just trace along the outside edges, allowing a nice wide area to meet the body. You can even curve the lines out to give an even stronger feeling of connection. I've used the shoulder oval as a guide for some detail lines as well. That oval isn't separate from the meat of the ribs and neck, but it bulges out, so the two dark lines along the shoulder help emphasise the muscle. They'll also provide a guide for shading later on.

Here I've added the toes, and some more detail lines...and, alas, I thought I'd saved the pic before I did this, but I erased the brown 'pencil' lines.

Next, I do some basic color work.

From those lines I drew in black, I have a guide for adding shadows. As you can see, just a little shadow work really makes the form jump out. From here you can use myshadow and detail tutorial for dragon heads to make this dragon even more real.

Skeleton Theory

The red dots represent points on the skeleton below where the dragon can bend - elbows, knees, hips, shoulders, spine, etc. As you can see from the skeleton on the right, there's a long bone that connects the foreleg to the weight bearing portion of the shoulder. It's the equivalent of our scapula and collar bone structure in humans. Since this dragon does not have wings, I didn't bother drawing in the sternum (breast bone along the middle of the chest between the forelegs), which I think would be quite large to support the weight of the wing muscle along with that of the shoulders. I'll cover that in the wings tutorial.

Some day, when I'm rich, I'll make a mannequin of a dragon. A mannequin is one of those wooden posable little doll people you see in art stores for helping to draw humans in proportion. Now, with one of a dragon, you could pose it and draw your dragons in any pose! :-) I'll try to create a poseable rendered dragon body as well for those of you lucky enough to have rendering engines, so you can pose it in virtual space and use it as a guide for your drawings.

[ 3D Rendered Dragon Skeleton (Coming Soon!) ]

[ Adding Wings - Coming Soon! ]

All art and text (c) 1996-2008 Dee Dreslough unless otherwise noted.
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