Chinese dragon



Fromthe ancient times, Chinese art has gained recognition all over theworld. Unlike the western painting culture where water colors andoils are used to paint on canvas and other materials, Chinese artistspainted using ink on silk and paper. The art of painting employed thesame style as calligraphy where motion and dynamic life are givenemphasis. Over the years the subjects and style of painting havechanged somehow. Ancient artists majored in ornamental paintingdrawing patterns and designs as opposed to representational paintingof nature such as mountains and landscapes. Between 475 BC and 221BC, there emerged representational painting. Culture, life, nature,and landscapes emerged as some of the favorite subjects in theirwork. However, the same approach similar to calligraphy wasmaintained. With time, one subject that emerged as common subject andwhich has remained to be one of China’s cultural identities was thedragon (“Introduction to Chinese Painting”).

TheChinese people associate dragons with divine attributes. It wasviewed as a symbol of wisdom, power, and luck. The swere akin to a god among the people as they were thought to controlthe rain, rivers, lakes, and sea. They were also perceived to becapable of warding off evil spirits, protecting the innocent andbestowing safety unto all. For this reason, many households inancient china took to owning different representation of dragonseither as a painting or sculpture or in any other form. The dragonhas such importance that it was even unthinkable to defile adepiction of the dragon. Paintings and drawing of the dragon oftendepicted them either soaring in the skies spitting fire or just in anon-contest manner. Interestingly, these dragons were depicted andthought to be capable of flying though not all of them had no wings.They had a body of a snake, the talons of an eagle, scales of a carp,eyes of the devil, antlers of a deer, and with four legs each withfour or five toes (Bates 16). Given the importance of dragons to theChinese people and the standard descriptions of dragons, it wascommon of individuals to draw their won dragons. This essay thereforedescribes the simple steps used to make a drawing of a for fun or for other reasons.

Tostart with, one must know that there are different types of Chinesedragons with different features. In his book “All about Chinesedragons”, Bates discusses in the length the history and spiritualrole of dragons to the Chinese people. He examines the role of achdragon to the people and offers the different images that were commonamong the people depicting the various dragons. According to him(Bates 12), there are nine classical s namely thetianlong, shenlong, fucanglong, dilong, yinglong, quilong, panlong,huanglong and long wang. The tianlong are the celestial dragons thatguard the heavenly dwellings of the gods. The dragons were commonlydepicted pulling chariots. Dilong was the earth dragon who controlledrivers and waterways, shenlong controls the rains and winds, whilefuzalong was the god of the hidden treasures. For this essay, thechosen dragon is yinglong. Yinglong is the only dragon that hadwings. These wings were thought to develop after 1000 years. Theyinglong dragon looks very different from other s asshown below.

Figure1 contemporary

Figure2 Yinglong

Forthe purposes of this instruction manual, the chosen idea of a dragonis fig 1 which more acceptable in the western world as a Chinesedragon.

Thefirst step is gathering the materials. One is required to gather apiece of plain paper, sketching papers, pencils, eraser, and haveyour imagination ready. This is because a dragon being a mythicalcreature allows one to employ his or her imagination better asopposed to drawing a representation of something that exists such asa car or house. In choosing the right pencil, O’Connor (4) saysthat one must understand that there are different types of pencils.The H designated pencils have a hard lead while the B has a softlead. The HB pencil fall sin between soft and lead and is the bestchoice in this case. The harder the pencil-lead, the lighter the markand vice versa. Therefore, it is encouraged one to have more thanonce pencil.

Thesecond step is sketching. In the sketching papers, ideas, doodles andnotes are jotted down. It is important to make as many doodles aspossible each with different aspects and different ideas tried out indifferent combinations. For instance, in drawing the dragon head,there are two main approaches as discussed and illustrated drawing using shapes and drawing using animal references(“How to draw a dragon head”). In drawing the head using shapes,the image below shows the trick:

Figure3 First sketch

Thereis just a not-so-perfect circle and a rectangle whose three cornersare joined to the circumference of the circle. The second move is toadd the body of the dragon and the antlers. Unlike other animals suchas cattle or deer which have two horns, dragons have antlerssurrounding their head. The body as shown above resembles a snake andis made with a free hand curling line like a two or three letter ‘S’joined top-bottom.

Thenext step is making the connections between the shapes. It isrecommended that the shapes be drawn with a faint touch but theconnecting lines be made with a darker or thicker mark. Once theshapes the general shape is made, the next is to add the limbs.Remember that that while some Chinese folklores and images maydescribe or depict dragons with more than four limbs, the currentmanual depicts a dragon with four limbs. The limbs should be added inmid way on the body to leave space for the tail and neck. Two limbson either side is the way to go and the legs should be generally ofthe similar size though each limb can have a unique posture. Thesketch should look like the image below.

Figure4 Sketch 4

Thenext step is to add other details to the head. This includes nostrilsand eyes. Note that although the dragon’s body and head resemblesthat of a snake, dragons can be depicted to have earlobes alongsidehorns and antlers. Eyes have ridges and they face sideways. Thebigger the eye ridges, the more menacing the dragon looks. Theantlers can also be added round the neck. By now, the sketch shouldbe close to something close to the next sketch.

Figure4 Sketch 4

Thetongue, teeth should also be added. Given that dragons were viewed asvicious creatures, it is necessary to make the tongue appear asmenacing as possible. In the same way as a snake or even the komododragon, one can choose to have a split tongue. In case you did notknow, komodo dragons are actual animals common in Asian countriessuch as Indonesia and India that gained their name from a closesimilarity with the mythical creatures. The animal appears as below.Take a keen look at its tongue and scales.

Figure5 Komodo dragon

Therefore,one can choose a tongue similar to that of a komodo dragon or just asimple one. The sketch should look like the image below

Figure6 complete dragon head sketch

Withthe head already sketched out, the next stage is adding details tothe body. This stage involves thickening the body of the dragon bydrawing curved lines along the stick-body of the body of the dragondrawn earlier. Make sure that the thickness of the animal’s body isrealistic with a narrowing towards the lower end which is the tail.Remember that dragon’s tail according to folklore were also weaponshence should be strong with a pointed tail like an arrow-head.Alternatively, you can make the tails end to branch out into aboutthree antlers.

Inadding the details such as the scales and talons, a high level ofimagination is required. Remember that dragons were not considered tobe pets. They were considered to be strong godly creatures that coulddefeat the evil. Therefore, they must have the look of somethingmeaner and even fiercer than the devil. The scales must be biggerthan those an ordinary snake given that Chinese folklore clearlyindicates that dragons were armored. In fact, the yinglong dragonthat was involved in a fight the Yellow emperor was said to havescales made from copper. With that in mind, a dragon should appearas a terrifying creature. To achieve such depiction of terror, thesketching should be done as many times as possible. Again, on thecase scales, one can employ a different variety of patterns.

Oneshould not be discouraged by the first sketch if it looks likenothing close as depicted here. For those willing to learn the art ofdrawing, they must remember that practice makes one perfect. Once thesketches are satisfactory enough, one can now move to the actualdrawing using the various steps discussed above. Again, the erasershould be utilized where necessary. To avoid excessive use of theeraser that can damage the drawing surface, the hard-lead pencilshould be used as it makes lighter marks.

However,the actual drawing may carry finer details and the darker pencil canbe used over the light pencil markings where necessary. One canchoose to combine different ideas and elements from various sketches.For instance, talons and antlers maybe added on the limbs of thesketch to appear as below.

Therefore,the final drawing should be something close to the image below.

Wherecolors are to be used as opposed to purely a pencil drawing, oneshould be very careful. Excessive coloring or shading with markerscan conceal some of the details of the drawing made from the pencil.As such, one should start with very light coloring and continueadding the shades as required. A colored drawing of a thus should look like the image below.

Giventhat there are many times of dragons are discussed, it is importantto learn to draw the different types of dragons by checking otherimages of different types of dragons. One should also remember thatas mythical creatures, imagination comes in handy. Therefore, one’simagination and creativity should be visible through the drawing.


Bates,Roy. Allabout the s.New York: Lulu. 2007. Print.

Dragonart. 2015. Web. 22ndApril 2015 &lt


Chinesedragon drawing. 2015. Web. 22ndApril 2015


Howto draw a dragon head. 2015. Web. 22ndApril 2015 &lt


Howto draw a dragon. 2015. Web. 22ndApril 2015

Introductionto Chinese Painting. 2015. Web. 22ndApril 2015

O’Connor,William. Dracopedia:A Guide to Drawing the Dragons of the World.New York:

KrausePublications. 2009. Print.

Technicalaspects of painting. 2015. Web. 22ndApril 2015