Drawing A Dragon

I’ve already drawn a dragon, but he’s decidedly western in style.

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This time, I’m on a quest for an eastern-style dragon. When drawing something that already exists, I do some research.

According to wikipedia: “The origin of the Chinese dragon is not certain. The presence of dragons within Chinese culture dates back several thousands of years with the discovery of a dragon statue dating back to the fifth millennium BC.”

This is a traditional Chinese dragon.



And here’s a traditional Japanese dragon:










There are a lot of Asian cultures with dragons and they’re all vaguely similar. Maybe they’re not similar if you’re Thai, but from an artist’s perspective, they are. They all have the same basic snake-like shape, horns, splayed out toes, crazy eyes, and old man whiskers.

Since they are so visually similar, I’m just drawing one that I shall call simply Asian-style dragon. I apologize to all the Asian dragon aficionados for lumping them together.

I draw the largest part first, which is the body. I like symmetry in my critters, and there isn’t much to be found in traditional dragons. I’m going to draw mine in a sort of S shape like the Japanese dragon above, which will give me another 3/4 profile to draw (the hardest one).

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I put a loop-the-loop in the middle. You’ll see it as we progress. Now, he needs some appendages.

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There’s an arm, which I will now copy to the other side.

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I changed his left arm so it’s facing up. It kind of looks like he’s waving at a neighbor, but I’m sure it’ll look better with claws. I’ll get back to that later. Next, some feet.

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Later…. I tried three different types of legs and they all looked ridiculous. It looks like he’s doing a pelvic thrust, which is not at all what I’m going for. Either I’m going to pretend like his fourth leg is hidden entirely by his body or I’ll get rid of it altogether. We’ll see once we get him more ship-shape.

I’ve hidden the hind leg for now so I can work on the shading. It won’t end up being black, but I find it’s easiest to draw in black and white. Now you can really see the loop since I added a middle.

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Now, the dragon needs a very important part that every dragon needs: a head.

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The humble beginnings of a dragon head. Let’s put it on the body and see how it looks.

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Once again, the appendages are in the way. Let’s see how it looks blended together a bit better.

Screen shot 2015-07-24 at 2.59.31 PMGood. Now, to finish the head and draw some dragon scales.

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Later…. Well, that took forever. The hardest part was getting the loop right. And for the second time, with his mighty horns, our dragon has outgrown the art board that it sits on. This design is much more vertical than I intended.

We’re not done yet though. I still need some finishing touches like his signature beard and whiskers before we can do color. He’s looking fairly eastern though.

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I gave him a beard by cutting off the bottom half of my lion’s mane. Why create things from scratch when I can just steal from myself? Work smarter, not harder. Now for the whiskers…

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The whiskers actually do make him look a little more Eastern. More details…

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In true “work smarter, not harder” fashion, I stole Eastern dragon’s claws from Western dragon. I also added embellishments to his tail and white squares to his belly, which won’t be white when I’m done. Watch and see.

I believe that’s all the components of our dragon that are needed at present. On to color!


Those belly squares don’t look so out of place now. I like him in black and white, too, but the color really adds something.

All I have to do is put him on a background, sell him on Redbubble and we’re done.


Thanks for reading,