Chinese Dragon Drawing

Chinese dragon drawing cartoon image

Creating a Chinese dragon drawing is a very rewarding task. They’re composed of many colors and intricate details and they look really neat when completed.

Chinese dragons are different from western dragons not just by their looks, but also by what they represent. For example, Chinese dragons are known to be symbols of power. Also, they’re associated with agriculture. It’s believed by many that they are the "bringers of water".

When it comes to drawing a Chinese dragon, there are some distinct differences from western dragons that come to mind. Right away, you’ll notice that they have long snake-like bodies – very different from most western-style dragons.

Actually, we could go on all day talking about the differences between eastern and western dragons. But surely once you start your drawing, you’ll notice them all the same. Let’s begin…

Drawing a Chinese dragon based on the letter S

First Step – Dragon Drawing "S" Framework

Because the chinese dragon is long, skinny and snake-like, it curves around to form a number of different patterns as it flies through the sky.

If you take the letter "S" as I’ve done on the left, you can use it to come up with a guideline from which to make your Chinese dragon drawing. Sure there are many ways you could draw it – but I think the S-way looks great. Feel free to change the shape of your Chinese dragon if you like.

Using the S as your guide, draw a simple curving line. The trick is to deviate from the S so that you can yield a truly unique-looking guideline from which to create your Chinese dragon drawing.

In my case, I decided to cut the lines short before each end of the S. The top line curves up, and away in the other direction. It become the tail of the dragon. The bottom line – later to become the head and neck of the dragon, curves up and to the left just before the end of the S. Go ahead and do the same with yours.

Got your Chinese dragon drawing guideline all complete? Good stuff! Let’s continue…

Second Step – Chinese Dragon Drawing Framework

The S in the last step helped you to come up with a unique guideline from which to draw your Chinese dragon. Next, go ahead and create a framework for your dragon, mapping out the shapes and lines that compose it…

Creating a framework for drawing a Chinese dragon Drawing the body of the Chinese dragon Drawing the legs and feet of a Chinese dragon

Begin by mapping out the head, limb meeting points, and the end of the tail. Three circles and an oval will achieve this no problem. Once the four shapes are in place, connect them to form the shape of the body of your Chinese dragon. Use your original guideline to steer you along.

With the core framework of your Chinese dragon in place, it’s time to move on to the limbs as well as a few other details. Map out the limbs of the dragon just like I’ve done using lines and circles. Don’t forget a few more details for the key head details of your dragon.

All finished? Very nice… now it’s on to the actual dragon drawing!…

Third Step – Begin Your Chinese Dragon Drawing

Well, now you’ve got a great framework to develop your Chinese dragon drawing. And of course, this establishes proportion ahead of time so that you can focus more so on the actual lines that make up the drawing, as well as key details. So… time to draw!

Drawing the head of the Chinese dragonNow, as you follow along keep in mind that there are a number of different ways you could go about drawing your dragon. There’s no specific order – but the order in which I draw mine is definitely worth trying! 🙂

First thing then, draw the head of your Chinese dragon. Start by drawing the eyes and the nose. Use your framework to guide you.

Getting back to our eastern-western comparisons, there are definitely some distinct differences with regard to the head of a Chinese dragon.

For example…

  • A Chinese dragon often has a mustache and a beard
  • A Chinese dragon has two long whiskers – one on each side of the nose
  • A Chinese dragon usually has long thick hair on its head
  • A Chinese dragon has two horns… antlers!?

Anyway, do complete the head of your Chinese dragon before you move on. And when you’re ready, keep in mind that there are more than one way to tackle this dragon drawing. But even still, I recommend you stick to drawing your dragon like mine for the first time through.

Ready? Let’s continue with the drawing…

Drawing the neck of a Chinese dragon Drawing the left arm of a Chinese dragon

When you’ve finished drawing the head of your Chinese dragon, move on down to the second circle of your framework. Then, beginning with a tuft of hair on your dragon’s left elbow… continue by drawing the left arm of your dragon. After, connect the head with the arm by two wavy lines just as I’ve done.

A third wavy line is necessary to define the underbelly of your dragon. Draw it so that it runs up to the upper-left arm of your dragon. Finish by drawing the visible portion of the right arm and it’s time to move on…

Drawing the snaking body of a Chinese dragon Drawing the back leg of a Chinese dragon

With the head, neck and arms of your Chinese dragon drawing now in place, let’s move on to the body and legs. Drawing two even-longer swooping lines works very nicely to complete the main part of the body. Draw the left leg similar to how you did the arms. Actually, I guess you could say they’re all "legs"… just easier to decipher this way.

Body in place? Great. Now, go on back down to the elbow of the left arm. Draw a curved line to show the continuation of the underbelly of your Chinese dragon. End the continuation about halfway up the curve… it’s here where the body of your dragon twists around and so the belly cannot be seen!


Drawing the body spikes of a Chinese dragon Drawing the tail of a Chinese dragon

Want to give your Chinese dragon some spikes? If so, now’s a good time to skip on back to the head of your dragon. Lay out the spikes, drawing them along its backside.

The tricky part is when you get to where the legs connect with the body of the Chinese dragon. Here, the body becomes the tail, and as it does… some twisting is occurring. So, you’ll need to draw the spikes in this area so that they’re centered – just like I’ve done above.

Once the spikes are in place, drawing the rest is a snap. Complete the body, the tail, and the right leg of your Chinese dragon. And then — on to the next part!…

Drawing the arms and feet of a Chinese dragon Drawing the tail and crystal ball for a Chinese dragon

Next up – the drawing the claws. Interestingly, it was thought that the level of power or importance of a Chinese dragon was measured by the number of toes it had. Five toes – very important. Three toes… not so important. Mine’s got four – so I guess that means its somewhere in between!

I recommend you begin by drawing the claw on the left arm of your dragon. From here – reproduce the same style in the other three claws, drawing one claw at a time. And if you like…

…leave one claw open like I did so that you can give your Chinese dragon an orb! Also interesting… it’s believed that four-toed dragons (like this one) were wise and powerful enough to carry an orb — the orb symbolizing the ability to create things at will.

Anything else? Oh yes – the end of the tail! Make it nice and fancy like I did, or change it by drawing it however you see fit. And finally…

Black and white Chinese dragon drawing image

Final Step – Chinese Dragon Drawing Details!

There are still a few more things to do before your chinese dragon drawing is complete.

To give off the appearance of scales (in a cartoon sort of way), "cross-hatching" is very effective. To achieve this effect, start behind the head of dragon and draw crisscrossing lines all the way to the the end of its tail.

Add more cross-hatch lines to the limbs too if you like. I got a little creative and decided to only do so on the upper portion of each limb. Then, on the lower portions, I drew some lines to form bands. You can see them colored orange and brown in the finished Chinese dragon drawing above.

And that’s pretty much it for drawing a Chinese dragon. Again, there’s no single certain way to tackle this creature – but this way certainly proves effective. Next time around you may want to unravel your dragon, drawing it in a completely different position.

Well… now you’re the holder of your very own orb. You’ve got the power to create any sort of cool-looking Chinese dragon drawing you want! Congrats on a job well done! 🙂