How to Draw a Manga Dragon

Learn how to draw a manga dragon from art instructor Chris Hart in this Howcast video.

Here’s some tips and some suggestions of how to draw a manga dragon. Now these are very popular in the genres of fantasy manga, shonen manga. They show up a lot of places, and they’re really impressive beasts. And here’s the dragon, the final drawing of the dragon. Now let’s go back to look at the construction. The construction’s pretty easy, big head, narrow snout, big nose. But what you want to do to make it look really gothic is you want to take that construction and find the planes, the different planes, meaning the different sides and really articulate them and have this.

Now let’s go into the details, the things that give people a little bit of trouble. First, the horns. Now a dragon’s horns can go in any direction, but I think since he’s such an aggressive creature, it’s looks particularly good if the horns go forward. So I’m going to draw the first horn forward like this. The base is round here. See how it’s round and not flat? That’s because it’s not a block of wood. It’s a round cylinder. Comes up this way, and then draw the horn to a very sharp point. And also to make it look more real, we give it a little depth. And how we do that? We show a little bit of the interior with a shadow. See, now it looks like it’s got some volume.

The other one is hidden behind his head. It’s overlapping. And that’s good. Don’t apologize for that. Let things overlap. It makes them look like they have depth. Again, a little bit of a shadow can be used here. Now for the plates, the plates that go on the back of a dragon. A lot of people just put them right on the back of the neck. That’s fine if you want to do that, but here’s the center line. It means it goes down what would be the center of the back of the neck. And if you put the plates here inside of the outline of the neck, it just looks more real. So place it inside, sort of like that.

The last bit of trickiness to draw a dragon is the smoke. Now it’s smoke. They’re not clouds. So you’re not going to get any bumpy stuff like this. That’s cartoony. Instead, believe it or not, you want the smoke to look a little angular, which makes it look a little angry. Curl as it lofts up like this. See it’s got some actual angles to it, and it’s unpredictable. It’s very random. It gives it sort of a gothic, mysterious look. And if you want, which I suggest, you put a few striations on this. The horn could use a little decorating, and I like to darken the tips. It’s looks like it’s been used. And that’s a manga dragon.