Dragon Power!

Since I’ve been so slacky on challenges for Nerd In The Brain’s Summer Reading Program and the theme is dragons, I figured it’s about time I drew another one.

I’ve only read three books so far this summer and one of them I’ve only read halfway–Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane, a fellow Michigander. I picked it up at a thrift store for $2. Sadly, it, too, has a decided dearth of dragons.

Anyway, back to dragons: I have this guy, but he’s drawn western in style. You can practically see Camelot behind him. Did they have dragons in Camelot? Whatever.

So, this time, I’m on a quest for badass eastern-style dragony goodness.

First, as always, when drawing something that already exists, to the research-mobile (a.k.a. the internet)!

According to the 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.”

The reason I drew a western-style dragon before is that honestly, I find the traditional eastern dragons to be a little, how should I put this delicately… ugly. I mean that in the nicest way, of course.

This is a traditional Chinese dragon.


And here’s a traditional Japanese dragon:





This could go on a while since there are a lot of Asian cultures with dragons and they’re all sort of similar, no? Alright, 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, antlerish horns, splayed out toes, waggly tongue, crazy eyes and old man whiskers.

Since they are so visually similar and I am so lazy, I’m just drawing one that I shall call simply Asian-style dragon. I apologize to all the Asian dragon aficionados for lumping you together. This task most likely sounds easier than it will be.

As (almost) always, I start with the largest part first, which is the body. I like symmetry in my critters (because it means I can copy/paste/flip), and there isn’t much to be found in traditional dragons. I’m just going to draw mine in a sort of S shape kind of like the Japanese dragon above, which will, of course, give me another gall-durn 3/4 profile to draw (the hardest one), but it can’t be helped.

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Wiggly goodness. I put a loop-the-loop in the middle like a sort of dragon roller coaster. WEEEEEE! I would totally ride a dragon roller coaster as long as it didn’t end at his mouth.

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 doesn’t look very menacing now (in fact, it kind of looks like he’s waving at a neighbor), but I’m sure it’ll look better with claws. I’ll go back and mess with it later.

Next, some feets. Not feats; our dragon isn’t ready for those yet. He doesn’t even have a head.

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Later…. I tried three different types of legs and all of them looked ridiculous. This is the best I can do and he kind of looks like a newt doing a pelvic thrust instead of a ferocious dragon. Not only that, but I can only fit one on there. There’s no room for his fourth leg. Either I’m going to pretend like his fourth leg is hidden entirely by his body or I’ll get rid of it altogether.

Honestly, I don’t know why traditional dragons have to be quite so gymnastic. Why are these dragons always doing the splits? Did they have dragon circuses or something?

Anyway, maybe my dragon is a magic dragon who can fly without wings and hind legs, because I say so. Maybe my dragon doesn’t need legs. We’ll see once we get him more ship-shape.

I’ve hidden the third leg for now so I can work on the shading. It probably 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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Better. Now, he 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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Pretty good, but darned if those legs aren’t in the way again. I’m seriously considering just having a legless dragon. Let’s see how it looks blended together a bit better.

Screen shot 2015-07-24 at 2.59.31 PMMuch more dragony!  Alright, 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 mighty dragon has outgrown the art board that it sits on. This design is much more vertical than I intended. And, I drew those horns from scratch like a sucker, instead of just stealing some I’ve already drawn. Oh well.

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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So, I gave him a beard by cutting off the bottom half of my lion’s mane. I told you I never work 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 Asian somehow. More details…

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In true FOG fashion, I stole Mr. Eastern Dragon’s claws from Mr. Western Dragon. The original dragon won’t mind, since he has legs, and therefore, extras.

I also added embellishment to his tail and little white squares to his belly, which won’t be white when I’m done. Watch and see.

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


Yay color! See? Those little belly squares don’t look so out of place now. Aren’t I a genius? Actually, I kind of like him in black and white, too, but the color really adds something. Perhaps, it adds color.

Now, all I have to do is put him on a background, sell him on Redbubble and we’re done!


I drew some little fluffy clouds, too. Dragons like little fluffy clouds I hear.