Fairy dragon

This was was made for a special request, I was asked to make a short tutorial about drawing dragon scales. I am not really a master of the topic (I painted a dragon... once?) but who cares, right? That's some good motivation to learn and try something new too so I tried to give it my best. So here you go - small, forest and probably poisonous, cause there is no other explanation to those colors, dragon on a mushroom. As this didn't take long (3.5 hours total) I made a video of the process (don't worry, it's only 20 minutes long) so you can see in detail how this little fellow came to life.

Apart from the video I'll tell you a little bit about technical stuff and explain things connected with drawing itself and about painting scales. I hope that you and the one who requested this tutorial will be equally happy ;D And I recommend downloading the movie - quality is much much better.

..:: DOWNLOAD VIDEO-TUTORIAL ::..

As I wasn't really sure what I am actually painting (I just knew it has to have scales) that sketch is really messy. At first I just drawn a mushroom, then I added a very strange looking lizard and that was it. After that I chose colors for this picture. On the movie you can see me removing some color from the upper part of the background after painting it. That's because vivid colors tend to stick out of the picture. If I paint my dragon in strong, bright colors he will stick out more from the background if it's a bit more dull. That was the idea :D After doing that I sketch my dragon for real and at this point I finally know what I am painting. A bit late, I know :D

Fairy dragon Fairy dragon Fairy dragon

What's happening here - with a soft brush I slowly add shadows to the head - it's better to firstly do a dark background and then add scales with a bit brighter color. It's a lot easier than painting shadows between light scales. On the movie you will see both of those approaches in use. For now I paint an eye and with light color I push some skin folds to the front, to create eyelids. Then with the same brush I add some spots around dragon's mouth, those are first attempts with scales. To make the whole pattern look natural, scales should differ in color, shape and angle. On the picture you can see that majority of head's scales is very small. When it comes to color it's best to have the background (I mean dragon's body here) painted with different colors and use half opacity for painting scales. Then our base skin will differ scale's color for us ;) On the last picture from the ones below I added a new layer with overlay mode and adjusted lights a little. Overlay also enhances colors.

Fairy dragon Fairy dragon Fairy dragon

Here some more scales, small horns and other stuff to make his skin more interesting. Those little bumps were painted in a different way: I drawn small circles at first, then added some light spots on top of each one and blended everything with smudge tool. It's a good way to do that but way slower... After drawing those I add some more scales around the eye, first on the bottom and then above the eye, to balance things out. Those shadows near the eye were done with additional layer in the multiply mode. Then I paint more scales - just simple spots with soft edged brush and light color.

Fairy dragon Fairy dragon Fairy dragon
Fairy dragon Fairy dragon Fairy dragon

I give this little one something on his back - I don't know how to call it... Well this purple thing was painted mostly to add something purple to the dragon itself. The mushroom is dark purple and that color is nowhere to find on the picture so I decided to add some purple elements to the dragon. Purple is also added to the shadow near the eye.

I move on with those scales and paint belly of our creature. In the meantime I painted him a wing - somehow I managed to forget about it while sketching :D I don't try too hard with that wing, it destroys the composition anyway so I just try to make it look acceptable. I add some purple spots to make it more interesting but there will be no further detail as I want it to stay in the back, blurry and unnoticeable. After that I move to our mushroom - not much to do here. I just add light to the parts which should be convex and add shadows to those parts that are more in the back. Then I add some small detail - dots and little spots to make it more interesting.

Fairy dragon Fairy dragon Fairy dragon
Fairy dragon Fairy dragon Fairy dragon

Then time comes for those small claws. To make dragon's arm not look like it's levitating, I add small shadows near the claws. The arm itself is first sketched again and painted without scales, to place lights and shadows. Then I add detail and use smudge tool for reparations if it's necessary. I also paint the back part of the dragon - gaussian blur is really helpful here. Tail is the last part - I like it colorful and bent, more playful. I add scales to that tail and blur out the back part of the tail. After adding some small details to the mushroom everything is ready. One last thing to do is the background. You can see me struggling with it in the movie ;D

Fairy dragon Fairy dragon Fairy dragon
Fairy dragon Fairy dragon Fairy dragon

At first I just add some thick lines on the separate layer. Then, slowly and painfully, with a smudge tool of maximum strength, I sculpt moss out of them, a very strange moss. I also add some blurry elements to the background, to make it less uniform. Part of this moss is even copied and pasted, cause I am too bored to continue drawing it. I also painted quickly the other mushroom, to make things a bit more interesting. Last thing is adding some bokeh on the new layer with overlay mode. This makes light less static.

Fairy dragon Fairy dragon Fairy dragon

Just some final touches left, a bit more contrast and signature ;) You can see the details on the movie (please download!). If you are not satisfied with the speed up - I still have the original and will post it if there is such demand. But I guess no one is brave enough to watch 3.5 hours long movie about drawing a dragon :D If you have any questions or wishes regarding next tutorial - I am waiting!

And here's the final picture.