In myths dragons symbolize a myriad of real and imagined terrors, which perhaps originated from the real beasts that roamed ancient forests. But for modern storytellers, it is usually the majestic hero in the story. The best thing in drawing dragons is that you could keep in mind that all those pictures you’ve seen are all derived from mere imagination only. Thus, there is no right way of drawing a dragon. You get to have all the creative freedom that you want in drawing one.

What Kind?

Before you can start drawing, you should first decide on what kind of dragon is it that you want. What is the environment that shaped your dragon? Is it a green forest or a mountainous desert? If it’s one of those mediaeval fire-breathers you might want to consider referencing historical sources. If it’s a fantasy creature, then it all depends on the course of your imagination.

Think of its key features. Do you want it as a slender, lizard-like dragon with filmy wings, or do you want it to be a mighty beast that has the arching back and chest of a war horse? Try to think and sketch out rough ideas like these before you proceed.

Be Convincing: Find A Reference

The best way to have a convincing dragon drawing is by having an anatomy which flows together and has some sense in it. Thus, try to make use of real animal anatomy for your reference. Does your character have wings? If so, are they decorative or functional?

Also, think about the skin. Is it the leathery type with fine reptilian scales or is it crocodile rough? How about the color? Do you you want it to be in camoflage browns and greens or would you want it in bright rainbow colors? Once you’ve decided on these things, try to make a sketch or a list of all the characteristics. Then, go and search the Internet for photos. Make sure that you learn from your references and not copy.

Be Realistic: Have A Light Source

The light source of your drawing is also important. Although it is from your imagination, pick out one light source that you want your character to be subjected to. If you have various image sources, also be aware of their lighting. The light source of the crocodile picture you are looking at and that of the snake picture may be different. Thus, be careful and make sure that the shading of your picture would sync with the light source you’ve chosen.

Pin point if the source is overhead sunlight, the moon, a window or a cave opening. Take note that light waves travel on straight lines. This could help you know where your shadows are. Keep in mind too that light bounces. Thus, there may be some lighted areas within the shadowed areas. If you are having a problem with this factor, go and get some plastic dinosaurs. Use a flashlight as the sun and you’ll see the shadows you are looking for.

Fire And Smoke

Another important factor would be the fire and fire-breath, if your dragon has this kind of feature. Do not experiment with flamethrowers just to get this right! It is quite easy to achieve this kind of effect. All you need to do is make use of tones. Give contrast to the smoke and flame by using shades of black, grey and white.