how to draw a fire breathing dragon, dragons breathing fire

How to Draw a Fire Breathing Dragon, Dragons Breathing Fire

Step 1.

What's most important about drawing dragons breathing fire, is that you have to pay attention to the shape of the mouth. A closed mouth with have the lower jaw tucked beneath the upper jaw, like dinosaurs. It's better to base your dragons off past animals that are similar, dinosaurs. When a dragon's mouth is open, drawing the lower jaw can be trickier. You should keep in mind the distance between the lower and the upper, making sure the upper is still slightly longer than the lower. Also look how tense the snout is, with lines that define bits of snarled skin upwards, like a dog's muzzle.

Step 2.

Now, let's delve deeper into the anatomy of dragon, because essentially, educating yourself on anatomy will further your successes of drawing dragons. If you have no idea bout the anatomy, creating the outer body forms will get confusing. I like to add some sort of realism to my creatures, mainly because it helps the viewer relate to them. Here, I created an anatomy that would support a dragon's 'fire system'. What you see beneath the nasal and mouth cavity, is a 'fire sac'. This provides the passage of fluids similar to gasoline, through the membrane hidden between the throat and tongue. The fire sac fills up with fluids from a cavity besides the stomach, which then excrete from between the throat, and flares outwards into fire. The ignition of fluid to fire, is a heated spark which occurs at the back of the throat, igniting into fire.

Step 3.

Here's what the inside of the anatomy looks like, without the fire sac being filled. Notice how the neck has become flushed opposed to the inflated neck. See how adding a bit of realism to your creatures creates interest?

Step 4.

Now, let's examine the teeth of our reptilian beasts. What most artists don't understand is, when a dragon is opening their mouths in offense, their teeth will become bare, just like modern day animals. Just reference a wolf, cat, ferret, or bear, observe how their muzzles become thickened with layered flesh above the noses. So what we'll do here, is when we draw the teeth, create visible gums so it looks pleasingly vicious. What's a dragon without a fierce roar or snarl?

Step 5.

Sometimes, I see artists draw fire breathing dragons with inaccurate details. When breathing fire, the tongue has to stand aside, or hide from the exiting fire. Otherwise, their tongues would be scorched in direct contact of the fire. Here's two of the many ways to draw the tongues of your dragons once they expel fire. See how realistic they look? Now shift over to the grey figure, and see how the tongue remains in the way of the fiery passage. That's not what we want...

Step 6.

Now, let's examine the various styles of fire. The one above is a mixture of acid and fire, which is...pretty deadly. The second is a huge spray of fire, which covers a wider blast radius, but shorter distance. The third, covers a further distance, but a shorter blast radius. It's important to draw/stylize fire like modern weapons (shotguns, rifles, flamethrowers, etc). Try to integrate realism within fantasy! Adding unique variety within your art is important in order to stand out.

Step 7.

Here's just the various ways to draw your dragons breathing fire. I've included a flying, baby, and under-curved dragon. It's best to quickly draw a pose before you start etching the details of the head first (mostly everyone does this :P). Take your time, and have confidence. If you need to, go ahead and reference other artists or references of bats/dinosaurs.

Step 8.

Let's start this tutorial with a layout lesson just for the side profile view of the dragons head that you will be drawing. Both sides start the same up until the third step. When you get to the third step the dragon's mouth will be drawn closed in one, and open in the other. You will also be drawing out the teeth, and tongue on the dragon head to the left, and just teeth on the dragon to the right. Also, draw in the horns which are set tilted back, then draw out the shapes of the necks.

Step 9.

Now let's start the lesson for the entire dragon that you see in the thumbnail. Start with making the basic body shapes for the head, and body. Draw in the neck and limb lines like so, then add the facial guideline.

Step 10.

Next, work on getting the dragon's head sketched out. For me I started with the horns, then I worked on the forehead, snout, then the left side of the jawline. Also, draw in the limp looking tongue and make sure the the lining for the mouth is rugged.

Step 11.

Using thin line weights, let's draw the inner detailing to form the facials and the starting spikes of frills. I like to use thick outlines for the base body build, and smaller lines for the inner moderate details.

Step 12.

Now that you have the face all drawn out, you can begin sketching or drawing out the body. Start with getting the long neck sketched, then work on getting the back and shoulders drawn. Next, make the first front leg, then add some detail to the body like the creases under the arm and such.

Step 13.

Then, let's work on the hindquarters, as well as the tail. The tail should have boxy curves in order to thematically match the style of this dragon. Using a lot of sharp edges enhances the sinister feel of the artwork. Take your time, and begin with the hind-leg first, then the tail.

Step 14.

You will still keep the momentum up with drawing out the dragon's body. Here you will work on the rest of the limbs. Draw the other front and back legs like so, then sketch in the powerful looking claws on each foreleg and back leg. These are also known as talons. Sketch in some muscle detailing on the body like so, then proceed to step fifteen.

Step 15.

I know this step seems pretty difficult, but by taking a step one at a time, it's not. Let's begin on the left wing, since this is probably the hardest wing to tackle. I ALWAYS start my wings with the forearm and then the hooked claw, then form the individual wing fingers in order. So basically, I work inwards to outwards when drawing wings. When you've done that, work on the right wing.

Step 16.

Draw in the long line of sharp pointed frills that flow down the dragons neck and back like so, then sketch in the wing detailing for added texture and definition. You are almost done with your dragon, just a few more steps.

Step 17.

Now you will need to draw in the rock or rugged boulder that the dragon is standing on as he looks down at the enemy or prey. Sketch out a rough patterned rock or boulder like so, then draw in the detailing to the rock. You should end up with a strong looking boulder like you see here. Take your time so that it comes out looking awesome.

Step 18.

For your last drawing step all you have to do is draw in the stream of fire that is flaring out of your dragon's mouth. Instead of a straight stream edge lining, you will draw in a crimped look instead. When you are done with the fire, start erasing your mistakes.

Step 19.

Here is what your dragon comes out looking when you are finished. Now you can have a blast as you color in your work. Great job folks, make sure you upload what you have done so I can check it out.

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Uploaded: September 15, 2012
Artist: Dawn
Difficulty: Advanced  Advanced Skill Level
Steps: 19
Updated: September 15, 2012
P.O.V: 3/4
Favourited: 47 times
Artist comments

Okay guys, earlier today I was drawing live. In the live stream I was sketching out a design for a fire breathing dragon. Surprisingly the concept came out pretty darn good. Now as you may know I haven't drawn dragons in a long while so for me this was a special surprise. Having said that, today you will be getting an awesome tutorial on "how to draw a fire breathing dragon", step by step once again. I know I have done one or two in the past, but since I haven't drawn any dragons lately, why not add a cool one instead of something simple or kiddish. The dragon that I made is standing on top of a mountain as he grips the rock with his clawed feet or talons. The lava rock design style that I chose for this dragon wound up looking real cool. The cracks on the dragons hide actually looks nice colored in red. The spiked frills that flow along down the back part of the neck makes him look even more vicious. I love the way the neck is positioned, and I also love how the fire is drawn. It's a new drawing technique that I'm working on. It's supposed to look solid instead of misty. Almost like a solid stream of fire mixed with lightning. Anyways I know a lot of you members and visitors will fall in love with this lesson on drawing a fire breathing dragon because almost everyone that joins or visits Dragoart loves these flying reptiles. I will be back later with some more drawing fun so try to stay tuned in. Peace out people!