Digital Dragon Drawing Tips?

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Rebell's picture
Joined: 06/15/2017

I would like some tips on how to draw different dragons. The dragons I draw always have relatively the same shapes and sizes. How can I create more variety?

Also, I have trouble with Night Fury legs and body shapes. Woolly Howls aren't any better. Death Songs are just ekdjskfjshrkd.

Can someone help?


Rebell's Signature


Name: Phantom

Age: 4

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 4,630 lbs

Species: Night Fury

Personality: Kind, caring, and quiet. She mostly keeps to herself, being very shy, but if you can break bast her barrier, she is a friend for life.

Backstory: Phantom hatched alone on a mountaintop, surrounded by the bodies of her tribe. She grew up alone, save for the eagles. Traveling all over the world, she ran into a Night Fury with a human on its back. She followed the dragon home, and found a human of her own- Delilah.

XxSilver.NightxX's picture
Berk's Power Player
Joined: 01/12/2017
Sandy don't eat my viking
  1. First for practice use images from internet BUT DON'T SAY IT IS YOUR DRAW, for base use the same shapes, after personalize it (add spikes for sand wraith, fur for woolly howl ecc..)
  2. I have some things for night fury and woolly howl

(not the best photo, but in my country is evening)





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--------ABOUT ME--------


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Paxy Romana's picture
Paxy Romana
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 07/30/2014
this might be too long but it's what I learned in art school

The only way up is practice, practice, practice! Whenever I want to figure out how to draw a new animal, I google photos and try my best to draw it exactly as it is in each image. I can't use these professionally of course, since I didn't ask the photographers, but there's no harm in heavily using references so long as you keep it to yourself. If you're having particular trouble, go ahead and trace the image to train your arms to get a feel for how much distance there is between things. After a while you'll start to feel more comfortable with how the animal is structured, and you can start focusing on aspects to exaggerate or simplify. Do more referenced studies with these changes until you feel comfortable with them too, and then you're good to start doing some from scratch. Each step can take a while. Some animals I can move along to the last stage in a few hours of work, such as with a leopard when I'm already comfortable drawing lions, but sometimes it takes weeks (like for me drawing eagles). Just keep at it and remind yourself that even if you don't like what you've just drawn, it is helping you in the long run.


There's studies in art that say artists have two main skills that change over time: their ability to physically creaste art, and their ability to identify nuiances and improvements in a piece. If the latter is higher than your former, you'll feel bad because your tastes in art are higher than your skill. But if your ability to create surpasses your ability to see art, you'll not improve because you aren't able to tackle the problem more intuitively. This boils down to: if you aren't happy with your art, that's actually good. Once you think you can't improve you won't. You'll feel you are going backwards, so keep some of your old art nearby to compare to. Once you start thinking your old art is riddled with mistakes, you'll know you're really surpasing your old self.


In particular since you are drawing fanart of httyd species, i recommend using film screenshots as often as possible, followed by show screenshots, then SoD game screenshots. These are the most genuine forms of the dragons, the same way that the most realistic fox is one in a photo taken of a live fox. Redrawing someone else's art won't help you because it's playing a game of telephone - someone watched the movie and saw the animal, then redrew with a spin on how their mind sees the animal, and then you draw how you see how they drew they see the animal, and it's muddled and wrong. Like when a teacher gives you a paper that is hard to read because they photocopied a photocopy of a page of a book. Stick to the original.

If you are getting lost in the details of a form, try doing gesture drawings. Gestures are quick, sweeping lines that hint at the form of the subject, but don't draw the whole thing. Essentially they are a drawing of what the motion of the thing feels like, not what the thing is.

 here's one of my own studies. The image is free use for noncommercial work, but i lost the name of the model because i never intended to show it to anyone. The black lines are tracing over the photo, isolating muscle groups and planes. The teal is a trace as well, where I marked the location of the head, hands, feet, joints, and base form in a simplified skeleton. The orange, green, and blue are then studies using the other pieces to teach my hands and mind where the body falls. The long blue line through the body is the line of action - where the spine would line up and direct the motion of the rest of the body. On a tailed creature, it's also how the tail acts. The blue and green are both forms of gesture drawing, while the orange one is probably more of a thumbnail.


Doing these breakdowns on each dragon you want to practice will definately get you where you want to go. In SoD, woolly howls and sandies have the same base model as toothless, so i would recommend starting with him if that's what you want to improve. For a good variety in bodies, i would practice hookfang and stormfly too, since they also have a lot of screenshots and are built very differently as wyverns.
Hope this helped.


"Never be certain of anything - it's a sign of weakness." ~ Fourth Doctor

BrickBellows the Moldruffle art by ScarfyWings

Liljatyna the albino flame whipper, my main dragon, inspired by my gecko.

Brickbellows art by ScarfyWings


 and more not yet pictured here

Gronckle the Cryaotic, main dragon of Arvid and an original species (and art) by Chameishida.
Read his story here

Lilja by Arrowalker, meme Lilja & Kas by ScarfyWings

Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 07/19/2014
Pretty much what Paxy said ^^

Pretty much what Paxy said ^^ Practice is key! And I have trouble with Night Fury legs, too, so it's not just you XD


So basically tracking to see what others say XDDDDDDDD

c̡͎̞̝̞͗̏ ̸̘A̡̿̽ͤͤ̿̅ ̷̠͈͉ͪ̓̀ͫT͍͔͒ ̹͎̳͔͉ͨ͌ͨ̚Ị̯͆̌ͦ ̯̠̂Ẹ̰̯̿̈́̎̽̒͜ ̬̜̼͖͓͊ͪ͒̓͊?̹̖̹̇̂̒͆
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The Ecliptic Eight's picture
The Ecliptic Eight
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Joined: 06/23/2015

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Wutend Bonfire's picture
Wutend Bonfire
Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 08/25/2014
enjoy my quick sketchy sketches

Night Fury legs are sort of really big jelly beans with a sharp end for the foot. When the back of the foot comes off the ground, it's a gradual curve and not just straight up into the ankle like humans do.


For having more variety in dragons, try adding or taking away bits! Must it have 4 legs, if any? How many wings can I fit on its back? What if the belly plates looked braided? And try messing around with posture, too- wyverns are extremely versatile and a good starting point. Does it crawl? Walk? Or could even hop like a kangaroo.

And head shape can make a same-same design look vastly different. Kind dragons often have large, front set eyes and an even snout. Strong ones have a large chin, and underbite. Something sinister or harsh has a pointed snout, and narrow eyes.



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XxSilver.NightxX's picture
Berk's Power Player
Joined: 01/12/2017
Sandy don't eat my viking

All what others has sayed