Paint Your Dragon

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Don't restrict yourself to reptiles, however. Many of my dragons are a handful of real-life animals combined to create something new. It can be helpful to use human references to inform your dragon's facial expression. It can also help to draw inspiration from real-life creatures: if possible, visit a zoo and make some sketches from life; if not, sketch from photos. Gerard suggests making mental notes about your subject as you draw, to enhance your understanding.

How large is the upper jaw compared to the lower? It also broadens your overall understanding of the construction of living things. Then, when you start to draw your dragon, keep a collection of relevant photos next to you, to refer to as you work.

When creating the above painting, Stone was inspired by dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and used a photo of the creature's skull to inform decisions about the dinosaur's bone structure and anatomy. To supplement this, he referred to images of dappled light, forests and reptiles, for inspiration for colour, texture and lighting. While dinosaurs are cool creatures in their own right, they aren't the same as dragons. However, as a child JRR Tolkein was told differently. In his essay On Fairy-stories , he makes an interesting case for respecting the unique traits of each. Think about what your dragon's environment will look like.

This is another element that can be used to help imply story and add layers of realism and interest.

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In the painting above, Stone settled on a tropical setting, which led to a colourful design for the dragon itself, taking inspiration from tropical birds and reptiles. Is it covered in leathery scales, or hard plates, like armour? You can even look to materials like bark and rocks for inspiration.

Try different things! One important thing to remember when learning how to draw a dragon is that there are visual cues you can use within your image to show its size. One common trick is to include some birds for scale, but you could also use surrounding architecture or other props to the same effect.

You also want to think about how much mass you want your dragon to have. Lighting is a powerful tool, and can transform a painting of a dragon.


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Lit from below, with its eyes obscured in shadow, a dragon will look much more intimidating, whereas rim light can make a dragon look epic and beautiful. The rule of atmospheric perspective dictates that objects at a distance will appear hazier than those in the foreground, and pick up the colours of the surrounding atmosphere. This can be used to emphasise the size of your dragon — adding a wing or tail receding into the background, for example, will help make your dragon look even bigger. When thinking about colour and value, decide what colour you want your dragon to be, then work out a colour scheme for the environment that ensures the creature stands out.

A blurry edge on a wing looks like the dragon has just landed or is about to fly off, and helps to bring the image to life. The eyes are often called the window to the soul. When we look at a character in a painting, we will generally look at the eyes first — it's a hard-wired instinct for humans. So it's important to capture your dragon's eyes correctly. Try combining them to achieve something new. Play with different types of eyes until you find the one that captured the personality of your dragon, and the mood you're trying to create.

A wide-open eye might indicate inquisitiveness and curiosity, while one half-closed might convey arrogance and nonchalance. Placing the eyes in shadow can make a dragon look very menacing and wicked. Since this is a clear-base polish, I started by painting my tacks with a base coat. Some of my tacks will be blue and the others white. One coat didn't completely hide the silver of the tacks. So I did one more coat. I let the tacks dry awhile so I wouldn't smudge the base coat when placing my glitter.

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Next I painted the glitter polish directly onto a makeup sponge. This soaks up the extra clear polish so you can put more glitter on the tack than painting the tack directly. Once the glitter is on the sponge, lightly dab it into the tacks. I followed up the sponge with a light coat of the polish with the brush to get a nice coating over th glitter then followed up with a top coat.

Finally, I assembled it on a styrofoam ball to make an ornament. When placing tacks into the styrofoam, you want to overlap them to both hold the previous tacks in place and to hide the underlying styrofoam. When I place my tacks, I put the next tack in the very corner of the "V" formed by the previous tacks. December November RSS Feed. You will need the following items: a styrofoam egg see here for discussion on different sizes thumb tacks see here for tack estimates some kind of glue foam glue, super glue, hot glue, etc.

In a pinch, clear nail polish with substitute. These are the types of wire I use. I also use a glue gun. Second, I take a thin flower wire and fold it in half. I put this wire into the hole, folded end first. I trim the ends a little so they aren't so long.

Then I put a little bit of glue on the bottom, and put on a tack. This is one of my finished ornaments. Post by Jessica Hunt. The first thing you'll need to do is put the topper on the cone. This step should preferably be done the night before assembling the tree to allow for it to dry completely. Place a big dot of glue onto the top of the cone. Set your cone aside to dry.

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In the meantime, you can start painting your tacks. I placed my tacks into a styrofoam board. How closely I place them depends on what method I'm using to paint them. Since I used glitter placement for this tree, they're spaced much further apart than normal for me. I painted each blue tack with two coats of Bonna Blue from Fresh Paint. This polish is very opaque and thick, so it does a great job coating the tacks. Sinful Colors Cinderella is a very thin and shimmery polish, so I couldn't use it by itself. I added one coat of Cinderella over my base.

For the white tacks, I used two coats of Funky Fingers Gesso.

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This again is another thick, opaque polish that makes a great base. After those layers dried, I used a makeup sponge to place Funky Fingers Else onto the tacks. I followed that up with another quick coat of Else using the brush. You want to make sure to let your tacks dry a little between coats, especially when doing glitter placement. If you're painting a large number of tacks at once, the first ones should be ready to paint again by the time you've finished painting all of them with one coat.

Go here for more information on glitter placement. I also used Fresh Paint Finished which I forgot to include in the picture for a clear top coat over the tacks. Once the tacks are painted comes the hard part. You need to let them dry several hours before placing them onto the cone. You may want to rush this step, but placing the tacks too soon can ruin the entire project. Let your tacks sit until the polish doesn't dent when you push into it with your finger nail.

Even if they seen dry, if they still dent a little, they will definitely dent during placement. Assuming you've waiting for your topper and tacks to dry, now you can start on the actual tree. For a tree, you want to line the tacks in rows. Start at the very bottom with your first color. When starting the next row, you want to start in about the same area where the last row ended. Since the last tack of each row overlaps two tacks, it sticks up a little higher. This creates a sort of "seam" on the back of the tree. This next row should just barely overlap the one before it.

When placing the tacks, you want to be straight on. Tilting the tack will make your lines not lay correctly. Using these same methods, keep placing each row. Before you get to the last row of tacks, you'll want to stop and paint your topper.


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I used two coats of Funky Fingers Gesso and a clear top coat. Make sure it dries before you place the last rows of tacks. Otherwise the polish will dent. When placing the very last row of tacks, I glue the entire row. Try to gauge how well your tacks will fit for the last row. If it seems like you don't have enough space, make the second to last row overlap the row before a little more.

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