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A lot of vector tutorials start from a sketch. If this usually discourages you from starting a project, this time we've created something just for you! I'll show you how to draw a baby dragon step by step, and then we'll take it to Adobe Illustrator to cover it with vector scales and put in a snow globe. What's more, in the third part of this tutorial you'll learn how to add an animated snow inside! Ready to take on this challenge?
Create a Dragon in a Snow Globe
Our dragon in a snow globe series is spread over three tutorials.
- Dragon in a Snow Globe: How to Draw a Baby Dragon
- Dragon in a Snow Globe: How to Vector a Baby Dragon
- Dragon in a Snow Globe: Make it Snow
1. Create a Pose
First we need to set the perspective of our picture. The easiest way to do it is to draw a single rectangle in perspective, just as if it was laying on the ground. From now on, we're going to call this rectangle the ground.
Time to start building the body! Baby animals look the cutest when their barrow has a shape of a drop. So, draw a ball and attach a drop "sitting" on the ground.
Attach shoulder points on the ball and draw two paws on the ground. Their shape isn't really important at the moment, we're just determining the place they are.
A bit of anatomy knowledge needs to be used here. If it seems confusing to you, take a look at my tutorial about dragon anatomy. Basically, we divide each foreleg into paw (fingertips), wrist (with palm), forearm and arm.
Hind legs will be added in a similar way. First, we need hips - they can be drawn as simple lines with a circle in the spot that the bones are attached to.
Add the feet. Again, no details are needed at this point.
Now add lines for the thighs and calves. The circle between them is a knee.
Let's add a tail. It starts in the center of the hips' line.
Draw a simple collar to sketch a neck.
Add a ball as a head. It's going to be directed up.
Add another ball for the mouth.
Draw a few lines across the big ball of the head to find a good place for the eye. The line extending beyond the head is going to be a horn.
Now the best thing about dragons is next; the wings! Draw shoulder points on the ball of the barrow, over the arms. Then draw a "wrist" with its "fingers". If you need help with the wings, check out my tutorial on wings.
Draw the arm between the shoulder and the wrist just like you did with the hind legs.
Now the basic sketch is done, but the fun is just about to start!
2. Build the Basic Body Masses
When the "skeleton" is done, we can cover it with "muscles". Of course, we're not going to use some complicated muscle structure, since they won't be visible under scales, but there are body masses that need to be defined.
Start with defining the width of the elements:
Now connect the joints creating smooth lines between them. Generally, try to outline the body so that you don't need the skeleton anymore.
Feet are a very special part of the body that requires a lot of attention. We're going to use a technique from my tutorial about dragon anatomy.
Draw the fingers as simple lines starting at the wrist.
Add balls at the end of every finger.
Attach bigger balls to them.
Draw the claws. Make them slightly hooked and rounded, not very sharp - it's going to be a cute little dragon, not a ferocious beast.
Outline the shape you've just created.
If you want, you can use the same technique to draw single fingers on the wings.
We need to prepare the head masses too. If the perspective used here seems too confusing for you (honestly, it does for me), you can change it to some simpler one. Then you need to define the following masses:
- brow ridge;
- eye socket;
- zygomatic bone (the ridge under the eye);
As you can see, I modified the brow ridge to create more surprised look. Generally, this part can't really move like human eyebrows to show emotions, but that's fantasy, right?
The basic body masses are done! We're now close to the actual drawing.
3. Add Scales to the Body
We're going to use the simplest kind of scales based loosely on a seahorse body. Let's start with the left arm. Cross it with two lines like below.
Connect both lines with horizontal, slightly bending ones. The distance between them should be the largest in the middle part of the arm and smaller elsewhere.
Use the guide lines to create simple scales.
Use the same method to draw the rest of the arm. Every new row of the scales should be smaller.
Try this technique on the legs, wings and tail too. You don't need to cover all of the body - as the rows "shrink", they eventually become too small to be well defined.
Time for fingers - all of them, even those on the wings!
To properly put the scales on the main body, follow the lines we've sketched before.
The same applies to to the head. We've got main masses defined, so use them to lead the scales in proper direction.
Now we can stress all the lines that turn out not to be covered with scales.
4. Refine the Drawing With Details and Shading
The eye is going to bring emotions to the picture, so we need to take special care of it. While most of the dragon has been built in a realistic way, now we'll need a bit of a manga style. Cute eyes for a cute dragon!
The mouth is the second most important part for emotions here. My dragon is going to be surprised and a little bit scared of the snow falling around him (maybe he's seeing it for the first time?), but you can use any emotion you like.
The sketch we have now is a perfect line art You can use it for a painting, or, just as we're going to do, as a base for a vector picture. However, if you want to treat it as a standalone drawing, we need to polish it a bit more.
To get an even more refined line art, thicken some of the lines. Outline the shapes partially, not at whole.
Darken the horns and claws to differ them from the other elements.
Now time for proper shading. It's easy, but very time consuming!
Good Job! Are You Ready for the Next Step?
Our little dragon is done! If you're not too tired yet after this lesson, you can take your line art to the next level by vectoring your baby dragon.