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How to Draw a Dragon Step by Step

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Fantastic creatures may not be real, but it doesn't mean they can't be drawn in a realistic way. If you want to learn how to draw a dragon, in this tutorial I will lead you step by step. You can also use the tutorial to create a base for your own dragon, with the details of your own choosing. Muscles, wings, claws, scales—this tutorial has it all!

Prefer to learn via video? Check out our tutorial over on Envato Tuts+ YouTube Channel to find out how to draw an Ice Dragon from Game of Thrones.

1. How to Draw the Pose of a Dragon

Step 1

It's nearly impossible to draw something from imagination step by step without a base. Try to quickly sketch your idea without any details—just the pose and general proportions.

dragon sketch basedragon sketch basedragon sketch base
Creating a sketchy base will help you keep the drawing consistent.

Step 2

We're going to build upon this sketch now. Draw a big oval in the chest area. Dragons have huge chests, because they need powerful breast muscles for their wings.

dragon chestdragon chestdragon chest

Step 3

Attach the shoulder blade to the front of the chest.

dragon shoulder bladesdragon shoulder bladesdragon shoulder blades

Step 4

Define the back of the body.

dragon backdragon backdragon back

Step 5

We need to make sure we know where the ground level is. Draw a line towards it.

drawing perspective grounddrawing perspective grounddrawing perspective ground

Step 6

Draw the legs now, paying attention to all the joints.

dragon front legdragon front legdragon front leg
dragon hind legdragon hind legdragon hind leg

Step 7

The default pose of the legs is easy, but also boring. Let's create the other pair of legs to make it more dynamic. Imagine every part of the leg is like the hand of a clock, with the joint at the center. Draw the path on which it would go.

dragon interesting posedragon interesting posedragon interesting pose

Step 8

Draw the other pair of legs using these paths.

dragon other par of legsdragon other par of legsdragon other par of legs

Step 9

Add a circle at the end of the neck. This will be the whole width of the head, not just the brain case.

dragon head basedragon head basedragon head base

Step 10

Add the shape of the muzzle.

dragon muzzle shapedragon muzzle shapedragon muzzle shape

Step 11

Add the rest of the spine: the neck and the tail.

dragon spine neck taildragon spine neck taildragon spine neck tail

Step 12

Time for the wings. This will be a rather unnatural pose for the wings, but all the other poses require perspective, and I want to keep it easy. If you want, you can try to pose the wings in some other way.

Let's place these new shoulder blades on the back, as with birds. Then add the arm and the forearm.

dragon wings anatomydragon wings anatomydragon wings anatomy

Step 13

Add all the parts of the fingers, one by one. The second one should be the longest.

dragon wing fingersdragon wing fingersdragon wing fingers
dragon wing fingers anatomydragon wing fingers anatomydragon wing fingers anatomy
how to draw dragon wing fingershow to draw dragon wing fingershow to draw dragon wing fingers

Step 14

Because of our simple perspective, the other wing is hidden. However, a dragon with one wing would look weird, so feel free to add a part of the other one.

dragon the other wingdragon the other wingdragon the other wing

2. How to Draw a Dragon's Body

Step 1

The pose is ready, so now let's add some body to this bare skeleton. Draw a circle around the arm—this will be the triceps and biceps all in one.

dragon biceps tricepsdragon biceps tricepsdragon biceps triceps

Step 2

Cover the shoulder with one long mass.

dragon shoulder massdragon shoulder massdragon shoulder mass

Step 3

Connect it to the arm with a line. This whole area will make the shoulder mass.

dragon forequartersdragon forequartersdragon forequarters

Step 4

Add the shoulder muscles to the other leg.

dragon front chestdragon front chestdragon front chest

Step 5

Add a big oval for the thigh.

dragon thighdragon thighdragon thigh

Step 6

Connect the thigh to the hips.

dragon hipsdragon hipsdragon hips

Step 7

Add the other leg as well. This one will be in the front.

dragon the other thighdragon the other thighdragon the other thigh

Step 8

The wrists and ankles have a special bony shape, so it's important to make this area distinguishable.

dragon wristsdragon wristsdragon wrists
dragon anklesdragon anklesdragon ankles
dragon joints detailsdragon joints detailsdragon joints details

Step 9

Add the paws. Front or back, they should have roughly the same shape.

dragon paws shapedragon paws shapedragon paws shape

Step 10

Add the other part of the paws: the "palms" and "feet".

dragon feetdragon feetdragon feet

Step 11

There's one more muscle mass needed to make the legs complete:

dragon calvesdragon calvesdragon calves
dragon forearmsdragon forearmsdragon forearms

Step 12

Finally, some minor details...

dragon muscle detailsdragon muscle detailsdragon muscle details

Step 13

... and the final outline of the limbs.

dragon limb musclesdragon limb musclesdragon limb muscles

3. How to Draw Dragon Wings

Step 1

Wings need muscles, too—they're arms, after all. Start with a huge shoulder muscle right at the base.

dragon wing musclesdragon wing musclesdragon wing muscles

Step 2

Then some biceps...

dragon wing bicepsdragon wing bicepsdragon wing biceps

Step 3

... and some mass on the forearm.

dragon wing forearmdragon wing forearmdragon wing forearm

Step 4

Let's add some shape to the elbow and the wrist as well.

dragon wing joint shapedragon wing joint shapedragon wing joint shape

Step 5

You can now outline the muscles in a fancy way.

dragon wing muscles outlinedragon wing muscles outlinedragon wing muscles outline

Step 6

Add the muscles to the other wing as well.

dragon muscles of wingsdragon muscles of wingsdragon muscles of wings

Step 7

Don't forget about the wing-finger—it gives the wing some of its arm functionality back.

dragon wing clawdragon wing clawdragon wing claw
dragon wing fingerdragon wing fingerdragon wing finger

Step 8

Add the joints to the wing-fingers.

dragon wing jointsdragon wing jointsdragon wing joints

Step 9

Outline the fingers.

dragon how to draw wingsdragon how to draw wingsdragon how to draw wings
dragon how many fingersdragon how many fingersdragon how many fingers
dragon wing fingers completedragon wing fingers completedragon wing fingers complete

Step 10

Finally, add the membrane.

dragon membrane dragon membrane dragon membrane
how to draw dragon wing membranehow to draw dragon wing membranehow to draw dragon wing membrane
dragon wing membranedragon wing membranedragon wing membrane
dragon front membranedragon front membranedragon front membrane
dragon wings membrane completedragon wings membrane completedragon wings membrane complete

4. How to Draw Other Dragon Parts

Step 1

Time for more details of the head. The best way to start the head is to create a simplified skull for a base. First, the brain case...

dragon brain casedragon brain casedragon brain case

... the eye socket...

dragon eye socketdragon eye socketdragon eye socket

... the upper jaw...

dragon upper jawdragon upper jawdragon upper jaw

... the jaw joint...

dragon jaw jointdragon jaw jointdragon jaw joint

... the cheek bone...

dragon cheek bonedragon cheek bonedragon cheek bone

... and the lower jaw. Simple, isn't it?

dragon lower jawdragon lower jawdragon lower jaw

Step 2

The chest is slightly rotated towards us, so draw the muscles connecting the arms and the "hole" for the neck.

dragon chest musclesdragon chest musclesdragon chest muscles

Step 3

Draw the neck muscles attached to the back of the skull.

dragon neck musclesdragon neck musclesdragon neck muscles

Step 4

To create a realistic dragon neck, don't forget to place the larynx behind the skull.

dragon larynxdragon larynxdragon larynx

This will let you create this neat triangle with a space for the throat, the windpipe, and the flame tube.

dragon throatdragon throatdragon throat

Step 5

Attach a powerful chest muscle to the wings.

dragon wing muscles pecsdragon wing muscles pecsdragon wing muscles pecs

Step 6

Finish the shape of the main body.

dragon torsodragon torsodragon torso
dragon bodydragon bodydragon body

Step 7

If the dragon is related to dinosaurs, it will look nice with dinosaur hips. Add this shape to the base of the tail to make it more solid.

dragon dinosaur hipsdragon dinosaur hipsdragon dinosaur hips

Step 8

Finally, finish the tail.

dragon tail linedragon tail linedragon tail line
dragon tail completedragon tail completedragon tail complete

5. How to Draw Dragon Feet

Step 1

There are a couple more details we need to add before the body is fully shaped: the toes and claws. First, draw the tip of the middle toe. Leave some space for the claw, and flatten the pad as it's pressed to the ground.

dragon paw padsdragon paw padsdragon paw pads

Step 2

Draw the curved claw.

dragon curved clawsdragon curved clawsdragon curved claws

Step 3

Draw the other toe, shorter this time.

dragon shorter toesdragon shorter toesdragon shorter toes
dragon shorter clawsdragon shorter clawsdragon shorter claws

Step 4

Many animals have a "thumb" called a dew claw on their front legs. This is helpful for holding the prey while eating, and, in the case of dragons, for catching prey in flight.

dragon dew clawdragon dew clawdragon dew claw

Step 5

Outline the full length of the toes. Create a hump right between the tips—this will suggest the joints beneath.

dragon paws anatomydragon paws anatomydragon paws anatomy
dragon feetdragon feetdragon feet

Step 6

Add the big pads under the paws.

dragon feet padsdragon feet padsdragon feet pads

Step 7

Don't forget about adding details to the wing-fingers as well!

dragon wing clawsdragon wing clawsdragon wing claws

6. How to Draw Dragon Scales and Other Details

The base of the body is done, so you can now finish it any way you want! I will show you my way, but feel free to create your own details. If you're drawing traditionally, you can put a new sheet of paper over the sketch to draw the clean final lines, or use a darker tool to make the sketch less visible.

Step 1

Draw the eye and the nose. The smaller the eye, the bigger the dragon will seem.

dragon eye and nosedragon eye and nosedragon eye and nose

Step 2

Draw the wrinkles under the eye.

dragon eye wrinklesdragon eye wrinklesdragon eye wrinkles

Step 3

It's hard to make any facial expression when you have hard scales on your face, but the scales themselves may create a false expression. If you want to make your dragon look angry or badass, put some bigger scales along its brow.

dragon browdragon browdragon brow
dragon angry lookdragon angry lookdragon angry look

Step 4

Create an outline of the head out of big scales.

dragon scales headdragon scales headdragon scales head

Step 5

Give the lips smaller scales to make them more elastic.

dragon scales mouthdragon scales mouthdragon scales mouth

Step 6

What's a dragon without horns? Make sure you attach them to the upper part of the skull, not to the lower jaw by accident (I have nothing against horns on the lower jaw, but it's harder to make them functional).

dragon hornsdragon hornsdragon horns

Step 7

Draw rows of smaller scales in the other areas.

dragon face detailsdragon face detailsdragon face details
dragon head little scalesdragon head little scalesdragon head little scales
dragon scales meshdragon scales meshdragon scales mesh
dragon tiny face scalesdragon tiny face scalesdragon tiny face scales
dragon head draw scalesdragon head draw scalesdragon head draw scales
dragon head scales drawingdragon head scales drawingdragon head scales drawing

Step 8

Outline the feet.

dragon feet outlinedragon feet outlinedragon feet outline

Step 9

Time for the body scales! Draw rows all over the body, adjusting their shape to the 3D form beneath. Imagine that you're trying to cover the body with parallel rows of tape.

dragon scales sketchdragon scales sketchdragon scales sketch

Step 10

Cross the rows now, creating a pattern of roof tiles—each line of one row should be placed between two lines of its side rows.

dragon how to draw scalesdragon how to draw scalesdragon how to draw scales

Step 11

You can cross some of the bigger parts with lines to make these scales more detailed later.

dragon scales patterndragon scales patterndragon scales pattern

Step 12

Connect the lines in rows with curves to create an outline of the scales.

dragon scales outlinesdragon scales outlinesdragon scales outlines

Step 13

Outline the scales in a detailed way.

dragon scales finisheddragon scales finisheddragon scales finished

Step 14

The wings don't need too many scales, so just sketch a few of them at the base. Outline the fingers as well.

dragon scales wingdragon scales wingdragon scales wing

Step 15

Outline the membrane.

dragon membrane detaileddragon membrane detaileddragon membrane detailed

Step 16

Finish the drawing by thickening the outer outline and adding some details.

dragon drawing finisheddragon drawing finisheddragon drawing finished

Step 17

If you want to turn this piece of line art into a finished artwork without coloring, you can add simple, sketchy shading. This will add some volume to the dragon's body.

dragon shading scalesdragon shading scalesdragon shading scales

Good Job!

You have drawn a beautiful dragon! Do you want some other simple, step-by-step drawing tutorials? Check out one of these:

how to draw a dragon step by step simple beginnerhow to draw a dragon step by step simple beginnerhow to draw a dragon step by step simple beginner
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