Drawing Dragon Anatomy

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STEP 1. Let's begin the breakdown of a dragon's anatomy, from bone to flesh. Here, I'd like to stress a bit more since lots of artists tend to go way too extravagant with their interpretations of dragons. There are specific key points about a dragon's anatomy that you must take into account to try to make your creature believable. Knowing the boundaries of this creature is very important since it will aid you to your success of creating a unique and logically correct dragon. Wing Fingers - dragons have a total of ‘5’ wing fingers (including the thumb). Skull - a dragon’s skull is stronger than a dinosaurs’. Their horns and crests usually integrate within the skull structure. Wing - the forearm of the wing is always the longest bone within the structure; it needs to be longer to support the elongated wing fingers which aid the dragon in its flight. Ribcage - the ribcage is probably the largest bone structure of the body, enabling the ability to breathe fire and support the muscles of the wings. Pelvic Bone - a pelvic bone of a dragon is very similar to a dinosaurs’, they connect the structure of the rib cage and tail; which is another powerful tool for a dragon. Tail bones - a dragon’s tail is very important and useful; it can be used as a weapon and gripping tool. A tail’s length should logically be as long as the length of the dragon’s neck and torso.   STEP 2. Now, let's dissect a dragon even deeper, understanding my concept of how the organs reside within the dragon's body. Remember when I said the ribcage is the largest part of the dragon's body? Well, here you can see partly why. The lungs are enormous to support the ability to breathe fire, as well as oxidize the body at the same time. There is a 'Fire Chamber' where a combustion of chemicals react together to create fire. That liquid form of fire, travels up the trachea and goes into a separate sac, called the 'Flame Sac', where the flames will exit through a small opening beneath the dragon's tongue. Ever see that movie 'Reign of Fire'? Notice how the dragons blow fire from beneath their tongues? All the other features of the dragon is pretty self explanatory.   STEP 3. Here's a fun and interesting step detailing the muscular system of a dragon. Notice how the torso is again, the largest part of the body, to enable the support of that large wing muscle, the ability for maximum fire output, and to be efficient as a deadly hunter with those massive arms/claws. The arms and legs, are also very important to keep in mind, as they power the dragon's ability to capture prey, like a lion. If you reference the lion's muscle anatomy, you will see similarities. As you draw the surface of your dragon, keep in mind the muscles to help you form a dragon's body in the most realistic way possible. Go ahead and pop into Google images and find references of human anatomy, and how those anatomical elements play part to the naked eye. You'll see how cool it is to understand how the anatomy of all creatures work.   STEP 4. Here's another interesting step I'd like to inform everyone about, since so many artists have issues with this. The arms should be a very important feature of the dragon's body to master. Observe how the un-flexed/relaxed arm is. Notice how there aren't many muscles contracting or protruding too harshly?   STEP 5. Now, look at the differences with a flexed arm, and how the muscles protrude and become pronounced. this is important, because dragons, like most four legged predators, have very muscular extremities in which require much strength to use (arms, legs, wings, neck). For example, an Orangutan's arms are so powerful to aid in it's ability to skillfully hop through the biggest and tallest trees. Otherwise, where will they get the strength to climb through all those massive trees? Same rule applies here. Think of your dragons in the same exact way, and maybe even implement features into your dragons using logical reasoning of why they're there.   STEP 6. Here is another super flexed arm that demonstrates how muscular a dragon's arm can be. If you draw a dragon that is slender, and it's habitat is living in marshy ponds and rivers, the dragon will probably have thin/lanky limbs since there is no need for it to have muscular arms. They will probably even have lots of frills and gills to aid in it's survival of it's aquatic environment. A dragon's environment and diet play key roles in how the design of the creature should be structured. Use examples or references from real animals and implement them into your own designs.   STEP 7. Now, recalling back to when I said that the torso is the largest part of a dragon's body, here is why. Look at what's going on here with the wing and arm, how they are compressed within that small torso space. The arm wing itself is large enough to support the lengthy flights that the dragon will embark on in it's lifetime. The wing arm muscles, blend within the forearm of the dragon.   STEP 8. Wing Anatomy - For the first rule of advice, it's best to understand the anatomy of a wing. Here you have the basic underbelly or 'front' of the wing, and the back of the wing. Notice the many differences between the two. The 'Front' wing, has more detailing as well as clear visibility of the wing fingers. You can also tell that the biceps and forearm connect differently from the Front than they do from the 'Back'. Also notice that the wing thumb has a change depending on its view. Spend at least 20 minutes a day drawing various wing poses!   STEP 9. Wing Breakdown - The best way to break down a wing for accuracy, is to dismantle the wing in basic familiar shapes. Imagine the wing as an anatomical whole; it's formed by muscles, bone, and connecting membranes. Here, you can see I've broken down the wing into sections that serve as the various muscle groups as well as the individual spurs of the wing finger bones.   STEP 10. Flight Cycle - The most important part about drawing dragon wings, is understanding the wings in various positions during its flight cycle. Here I've drawn very basic stages of what the wings would look like from the side during this flight process. Observe the details and how the wing is formed during each individual movement. For me to draw these, I used a few bat in flight references from Google Images.   Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Step 6. Step 7. Step 8. Step 9. Step 10.