Red Dragon Drawing – Part Three

Red dragon drawing image

Red Dragon Drawing – Part Three begins… the third and final part of the lesson!

In Part Two, you used your dragon drawing framework of simple shapes and lines to develop shape.

Now, in Part Three, you’re going to fine-tune the shape, as well as add in the final details.

First thing then, have a look to the right. This is what you’re aiming for – not exactly the same as mine, but similar. Quite different from the original framework, isn’t it!

Well, let’s get going then – on with the third and final part of the lesson…

Drawing the head of the dragon

First Step – A Little Thinking…

Before you draw anything, take a look at your work up to this point. You’ve got your framework along with the shape mapped out over it.

Question, what should be completed first – adding the final details or fine-tuning the shape of your dragon drawing?

The logical answer is details first. Sure, usually we save them for the very last step, but here things are a little different. You’ve already got the shape in place. And many of the details you will add will actually appear in front of many of the lines that compose the final shape. Saving the details for last would cause problems later on.

Our focus then, in each stage of completion of Part Three, is to draw in the final details first, and then after, define the final shape. So, things like eyes, nostrils, teeth, horns, spikes, claws, etc. with respect to each part of your drawing – should be drawn in before you finalize the shape of other things like the head, neck, arms, etc.

Makes sense right? Good stuff, now let’s zoom in on the head of the dragon as this will be our starting point once again…

Drawing the details of the dragon head

Second Step – Dragon Head Details

View the example to the right for a preview of how the head of your dragon drawing is going to look – very soon!

The same? Maybe not. Use what I say and show you to help, but hey – do have some fun when and where you can. With structure and shape already in place, it’s only right that you should have more freedom for creativity at this point!

For my dragon drawing there are a certain number of steps I took in order to complete the dragon head. And – as you walk through each one sequentially, you can go ahead and deviate a little. Two big horns? Nah… four small horns and two GIANT horns! Up to you!

Here’s how the walk-through begins…

Drawing the eye of the dragon Drawing the brow of the dragon Drawing spikes on the dragon's face Drawing the dragon's snout

The eyes being the "windows to the brain," are of course the perfect starting point! Start with the right eye and add a few more details around it if you like. For example – the eyebrow and maybe a few wrinkles. After that, draw in some head and snout spikes. Centralize them in accordance with the centerline.

Following this, draw in the snout (start at the right of the eye), and then give your dragon a nostril.

Drawing the other eye of the dragon Giving the dragon some teeth Drawing the lower mouth of the dragon Finishing the lower mouth of the dragon

Now, the snout of your dragon covers the right eye slightly. So only draw a small portion of it – and make it a little bit smaller than the right one too! Next, draw in the upper row of teeth (make them different sizes if you like) and complete the lower mouth of your dragon.

Drawing the teeth on the lower jaw Drawing the dragon's tongue Drawing the mouth details of the dragon Drawing more horns on the dragon's head

Draw in a lower set of teeth for your dragon. After that – the tongue. Go ahead drawing it so that it’s coming out from the throat and extending out and away from the mouth. You may want yours to be forked like a snake’s, or even more simple and rounded like a frog’s.

When the tongue’s in place, draw more lower teeth. These are the ones that are only slightly visible in the lower right corner – appearing only a little from behind the tongue. After this, some more head spikes and it’s time to move on…

Giving the dragon horns Drawing side horns on the dragon's head Drawing more head details for the dragon Continuing drawing the dragon's head

Using your framework and outline from Parts One and Two, draw in two large horns extending outwards from either side of the head of your dragon. Next, draw in the three cheek protrusions (frills perhaps?). Balance the left side with those that can barely be seen as the snout and lower mouth is in the way.

Almost done now – one last thing. Can you see the two tiny little spikes I added on the dragon’s head? They’re hardly visible and are curving down and away along the backside of the skull. Sketch in a couple of your own.

Wow – lots of extra little steps for this dragon drawing. Well, the head is complete now… how does yours look?

Pretty cool I’m sure, now let’s continue onwards…

Drawing the armor of the dragon

Third Step – Drawing Plated Dragon Armor!

Last time, in developing the shape of your dragon, we immediately went to the neck after completing the head. And this was logical as it’s the next part on down the dragon.

In this case however, you’ve already got a pretty good idea of how the neck is going to look. The shape is already in front of you. And so, the "details first shape second rule" remains in effect!

Unlike with the head of your dragon, we’re going to begin adding details at different points in the drawing – where we see fit.

Something really cool that I’ve always liked when drawing dragons is adding plated dragon armor. It can look an infinite number of different ways – mine in this case are going to resemble a cross between a diamond and an arrowhead. See what you can come up with or make yours like mine. I recommend you do some practice on the side to get it the way you want.

For the first plate – one of many that will run along the central underside of the dragon, I’ve decided to position it in the middle of the chest, offset to the right (our left) ever-so-slightly.

Why the chest you ask? Well, it’s got the largest surface area as dragons tend to be rather bulky in this area (although sometimes more so in the stomach!). Either way, it’s one logical starting point to put the first armored plate.

I’ve decided to work up away from the chest and towards the head to complete this step. So, with each new plate make sure that you leave a small opening so that you can give off the appearance that each new plate overlaps the one below it.

Like this…

Drawing the first two center plates of the dragon Drawing the third center plate on the dragon Drawing the fourth center plate on the dragon Drawing the remaining center plates on the dragon Connecting the center plates to the dragon's head

Tip: with each new plate as you work your way up toward the head of your dragon, take into account that the neck of your dragon is curving and that each plate should be slightly smaller than the one below it – at this stage anyway.

So, did you get your plated dragon armor finished? Nice! Now it’s time to work your way back down the neck with yet another layer of armor…

Drawing the outer neck plates on the dragonSimilar to the underbelly of an alligator or crocodile, draw in a second layer of plated dragon armor in behind the first. Use the first centered layer as your centerline as you work on down the neck.

Also, as an added touch, ensure that each new plate grows in accordance to each original center plate. These new plates should get bigger and wider as you move back on down the neck.

Keep going until you’re back at the first armored plate that you drew – the one in the middle of the chest.

OK, now you can stop! This is enough detail in this area of your dragon drawing for now. Remember, we’ve already got the shape in place and so we have the freedom to leave one part of the drawing, work on a different part of it and then return to this part of the drawing later.

For now though, let’s go ahead then and move on to a different part for a little while.

Fourth Step – Give Your Dragon Spikes and Horns on it’s Neck

Keeping with the look of your dragon’s head – spikes, horns… let’s now do the same along it’s neck. So, go back up to the head at the point where it attaches to the neck.

And, let’s add the horns first. Essentially, they’ll be smaller versions of the two big ones that I drew on either side of the head of my dragon. This is an added feature, one I thought would be neat and add to the overall character. Here’s a a little walk-through…

Drawing side spikes along the dragon's neck Continuing with the dragon's neck plates Adding spikes along the back of the dragon's neck

Working on down the neck, draw in some horns that both resemble the original big horns on the dragon’s head, and also that decrease in size as you move from head to chest. If you like though, change the look and size of your horns, change the frequency of their occurrence and even alleviate them altogether! Completely up to you! 🙂

The next step, after the horns is to outline the shape of the neck with a simple curved line that disappears behind each horn that you drew. After that, continue the center row of spikes that you drew both on your dragon’s snout, as well as on the top of your dragon’s head.

Fifth Step – Drawing More Plated Dragon Armor!

Next, let’s return back to drawing some more plated dragon armor – continuing where we left off in the Third Step…

Drawing plates along the dragon's groin

Below the first plate that you drew – the one centered at the dragon’s chest, draw another plate. Draw this one so that it points down and to the left.

Afterwards, go up to the first center plate again. Draw another large underlying plate so that it appears to be underneath both the plate you just drew, as well as the first plate on the chest. This underlying plate will be the largest yet as it covers most of the chest area.

One last thing… move down to the groin area of your dragon drawing and draw another center plate. Map it out so that it stays centered in accordance with the grey centerline from your original framework. Again, make sure it’s curved slightly as the underbelly will gradually disappear with the tail as it curves beneath and away from the body of your dragon.

This step may seem a little bit odd to you because we are returning to do something that could have probably been done earlier in the Third Step. But remember, while this way does work, there’s no one "end-all-be-all" way to do it. You may find that completing your drawing in a somewhat different fashion/order than mine works better for you. And that’s perfectly OK.

On we go!…

Sixth Step – Drawing Claws, Spikes and the Arms of Your Dragon

Moving on down your dragon drawing the next logical step would be of course to tackle the arms. And so, let’s do just that – details first!

Now, what kinds of details would you like to add to the arms of your dragon? Just like the heading suggests, claws and spikes will do just fine. But in your case, there might be something else you’d like to add… more horns perhaps? Feel free to do so as we work away…

First thing – begin at the extremities of the arms (hands actually), and draw in the claws at and over top of the tips of the fingers of your dragon…

Drawing spikes along the arms of the dragon Drawing the arms and hands of the dragon

Next, add some more spikes – this time running up along the upper forearms of your dragon. I drew three – maybe you’ll draw two or four. After that, add some more spikes on the upper arms. In both cases, use the blue framework lines to guide you along.

Like with other parts in this lesson, when you’re finished drawing in the details of your dragon arms, go ahead and begin drawing the actual arms themselves. I recommend you begin at the upper right shoulder (your left) and work your way on down from there. Complete the arms first before you go on to draw the hands.

All set? Great – now it’s on to the legs!…

Seventh Step – Claws, Spikes and Legs

This is pretty much the same thing as the Sixth Step, but instead of arms we’re looking at the legs. Previously, you started by drawing claws on the fingers of your dragon. This time start by drawing claws on your dragon’s toes.

Here’s how…

Drawing spikes along the dragon's legs Drawing the dragon's legs and feet

Got the foot claws in place? Alright, next move up the legs and in the shin area, go ahead and draw about four spikes. More or less is fine, just make sure you use the blue framework lines to help map them out. You’ll notice above that one spike on the left leg is barely visible as the left hand of my dragon is hanging in front of it.

After the spikes, draw the final outline for the legs of your dragon. Complete the legs first, then the feet. If you like, draw in a couple more spikes on the upper legs. Actually, they’ll only be visible on the right leg of your dragon as the upper-left leg is hidden behind the stomach/groin of the dragon.

Everything good then? Great, continuing on…

Eighth Step – Finish Drawing the Plated Dragon Armor

Now to complete the body of your dragon drawing. It’s time to return once again to the plated dragon armor that you started earlier on…

Drawing the dragon's armor

Actually, it’s kind of interesting how in this drawing, we keep coming back to the same thing where as in other drawings, we usually try and finish something before we move on to the next thing.

Well again, this all goes back to the fact that we’ve already got structure and shape from our work in Parts One and Two of this lesson. And while it may seem logical to complete one part before we start another – we really do have more freedom when drawing in this manner.

Anyway – just thought I’d throw that thought out there. Let’s continue…

Look to the right and you see how the drawing will look once the body is complete – plated armor and all. Here’s how to make it happen…

Zooming in on the dragon's armor

First, go to the last centered plate you drew, the one just below the chest of your dragon. Continue drawing center plates inline with the center of the body of your dragon.

Have the line of plates curve down – to the left, and then back to the right again when you reach the plate at the groin area. Then, after the groin plate, keep going. Draw the plates smaller as the tail dips down, under, behind and then away from the dragon.

Center plates all in order? OK then… go back up to where you left off with the last "crocodile-like" underbelly plate, just under the large one covering the chest area.

A closer look at the dragon's armor

Draw the rest of the underbelly so that it curves down and to the left in accordance with the center plates you’ve already mapped out and finalized. Keep things inline too, relative to the center line.

Note: The size of the plates decrease steadily as you go from the chest area to the groin area, and they continue to do so at the transition from groin to tail. Gradually, these plates disappear as the bottom of the tail is no longer in view.

Now, there’s one last little thing here – actually a big thing with respect to how it affects your drawing! It’s the line(s) that make up the back of your dragon. Between the upper-right forearm and the upper-right leg of your dragon, draw them in.

You may want to have a dragon that is skinnier towards the bottom, yet thicker towards the top. To do this, do the same as I have.

And that’s all there is to the plated dragon armor. Your dragon drawing is coming along very nicely now – the body is finally complete!

Drawing shoulder horns on the dragon

Ninth Step – Shoulder Horns?… Why Not!

This is sort of a "mini-step," but I threw it in here anyway just to point out how important it is to stay original and unique when you’re coming up with your own ideas.

Before moving onto the wings, I came across an empty area just above the shoulders. Immediately I’m thinking, "How about something extra to make this dragon drawing all the more unique?" And sure enough, the "shoulder horns" were born and drawn!

I realize that dragons probably wouldn’t have this feature. After all, they’d probably get in the way when they fly! But then, this is a drawing – and it’s through drawing that we really get the opportunity to put our imagination to the test! So again, why not?

The message?

I strongly encourage you to try new things in your drawings. Cross the boundaries every now and then – don’t be afraid to stretch your imagination a little further then you already have.

OK then, almost finished now… wings, tail and then we’re done!

Tenth Step – Drawing Powerful Dragon Wings!

Well, I know you’ve been waiting for this part… tackling those wings! With this step, and with the tail too soon to come – feel free to branch off a little and come up with your own cool ideas. The core of your dragon is in order after all.

I recommend you go about the wings the same way as you did in Part Two. Draw the limb/finger portion first, and then add the skin that connects in between. Be sure to add some detail of your own as you move along…

Drawing the dragon's wings

In the "left-side equals right-side" fashion, draw the wings step-by-step. No need to worry about proportion here, but even still… it helps to take your time and the wings really will have a huge impact on the final look of your dragon drawing.

Completing the wings of the dragon

In my case, I added some horns protruding out from three joints on each of the wings. Also, you can see how I made the core limbs in the wings thicker than the other finger-like protrusions. Oh, and don’t forget the extra skin that appears just above the first "bend" in the wing… many dragons have this (apparently!). 😉

Get those wings drawn up and then let’s move on to the tail!

Eleventh Step – Spikes, Horns and Shape for the Dragon Tail

The tail of your dragon of course is set in behind the body. Naturally this would be and is the final area to polish up.

Below you can see four separate stages as to how I drew the tail of my dragon. Take your time while drawing it all out… there’re lots of little details here as you can see!

Drawing spikes along the dragon's tail Drawing more spikes along the dragon's tail Drawing the dragon's tail Completing the dragon's tail

It’s actually pretty straight forward… spikes – horns – shape – remaining underbelly plates, and you’re finished. But here are few tips regardless…

I drew my tail to create the impression that it’s twisting ever-so-slightly as it rises up and into the air behind the dragon. To accomplish this, you’ve got to consider the position of the spikes first, as they are all extending perpendicular from it the same way they do on the back, the neck, and the head of the dragon.

Remember that the spikes are directly above the center of the underside of the tail and so depending on where the spikes are, you’ve got to draw the underside in accordance. Once you’ve established this, the horns (and of course the shape too) follow suit. Draw them in and away you go!

Final Step – Unleash Your New Drawing… a Red Dragon

All I can really say at this point – right right now that is… is congratulations! You made it!! 🙂

I realize that this lesson is fairly tedious (especially Part Three) and I appreciate the fact that you’re doing your best to work on through it – surely coming up with some excellent ideas of your own along the way!

All that’s left for you to do is finalize your dragon drawing. You’ve got the last of your lines drawn out now, so feel free to do away with the underlying framework from Part One, as well as the underlying outline from Part Two.

Go ahead and color your dragon drawing. If you want, keep with the theme and make it red. Or, go another way and make it whatever color you want… it’s really up to you!

Here’s the finished version of my red dragon drawing – colored and all…

Cartoon dragon drawing image

Now before I wrap things up, I’d just like to thank Alec who encouraged me to get started with this lesson. Thank you Alec and I hope that you and everyone else enjoyed it! 🙂

And there you have it… please come on back in the near future for yet another dragon drawing lesson!