How I paint dragon art in Photoshop

Dragons and their place in digital fantasy art and illustration are set forever and fantasy artists all over the world will paint a dragon at some point. As a fantasy artist myself, dragons and dragon art will always be a subject close to my heart, be it digital dragon art or traditional dragon art, the subject matter is second to none. Dragons are timeless and give the fantasy artist endless scope.

Below is a piece of digital dragon art that I recently completed for inclusion in a new book soon to be published.

The image below started life as a sketch in one of the many sketchbooks I carry with me to ensure I capture any ideas. It was then taken into Photoshop so the main image could be rendered using the Aiptek PC graphics tablet.

Cave dragon, created in Photoshop using the Aiptek graphics tablet. See some of the steps I took to create the image below.
Cave dragon, created in Photoshop using the Aiptek graphics tablet. See some of the steps I took to create the image below.

Cave dragon digital art step 2

Step two of the cave dragon digital painting is to start to add some tone and shape to the basic drawing. This is the stage I least like as it ruins the initial sketch and is many hours away from the finished image. Beig an artist that likes the finished piece the start of the painting is always the hardest, but you have to start somewhere.

Cave dragon digital art step 3

Step three is where I continue to add tone and dabble with adding a touch of colour. I am always wanting to get to the finished painting and add patches of colour as soon as possible in the paintings life. It's not the best practice, but I am a beliver that whatever way of woking works for you is the best way forward.

Many instuctional art books have a very fomulaic way of working but this is not always the best way forward. You must find the best way to work that suits your style and subject matter.

Cave dragon digital art step 4

Layers of colour are the main objective in this step, adding colour to areas where I see fit. It's here that I try and add more detail, which is another step to getting areas of the image closer to a finished state and give me a visual idea of how the whole main painting might be. When this starts to happen I start to like the image more and can start to see the end in sight.

Cave dragon digital art step 5

Adding layers of colour and detail is the main objective at this stage but using a digital approach allows you to change any aspect of the painting at any point. At this stage in the digital painting I decide that the canvas should be wider to give more space to the fire that will be coming from the dragons mouth.

The digital route allows you to do this and you can see from the image below, the left had side of the image has been extended. Having colour and detail allows you to easily extend the canvas in any direction.

Cave dragon digital art step 6

Step 6 in the dragon art shows the build up of detail and it's at this stage I start to really enjoy the painting and can see the image come to life. Layers of detail and texture are added as and where I see fit, there are times I have to stop myself from adding to much.

Dragon art digital step 7

The detail is added and I stop myself from adding more but it's at this stage when the painting is finished that I start to think about the next one and trying to move on from what I have gained on this particular piece.

Finished Dragon Painting

Detail from the Cave Dragon digital Painting

DragonWorld - See my dragon image in print

If you want to see this dragon image in print then look out for the new books by Impact books, DragonWorld, where this images is part of the spreads I have in the book.

Also, take a look at the review of the bookby clicking the link below

DragonWorld book review - new fantasy art book from Impact Books
(some of my own artwork in this book)

Take a look my other Dragon art step-by-step demonstration of the image below - Just click the link in the caption!

Click the link in this caption to see an insight into how I created the image above
Click the link in this caption to see an insight into how I created the image above | Source

Another digital Dragon Art demonstration, additional fantasy art and book reviews

I hope that the above step-by-steps give you some idea as to how I work. I tend to have a very erratic style and jump from one place to the next, from one colour to the next. Many will say that this is not ideal but whatever style you chose to work in and the method you chose, if it works for you then it's the correct way

Dragons are one of my favorite subject maters and take a look at my other step-by-step dragon art demonstration here.

There are a number of fantasy art book reviews which are always great for some inspiration, so take a look via the links below

DragonWorld book review - new fantasy art book from Impact Books
(some of my own artwork in this book)

Bob Eggletons Dragons Domain fantasy art - book review

How to paint Fantasy Heros and Warriors with Alan Lathwell - book review

How to draw and paint Fantasy Art Vampires - book review



Take a look at my blog for more of my work

My blog is also taking shape so check it out here at unholyscribe fantasy art blog. New artwork, thoughts, and genral stuff I find on the net will be finding its way onto my blog and any feedback is welcome.

Visit my Deviant Art page for more artwork

My Deviant Art page showing various art work from traditianla landscapes to fantasy art, traditional and digital.
My Deviant Art page showing various art work from traditianla landscapes to fantasy art, traditional and digital. | Source

Take a look at my Deviant Art gallery filled with my scribbles, both traditional art and fantasy art created using various medium, pencil, pen, paint and digital.

Let me know what you think of my latest Digital Dragon Art 2 comments

Anita Saran profile image

Anita Saran 2 years ago from Bangalore, India

I like this! I have a Bamboo Graphics Tablet and am trying to master GIMP. I have used Paint but find it is not as comprehensive as G. I also like Gimp because it doesn't take much space o my laptop. What art programme do you use? I like to paint fantasy.


Jonathan Grimes profile image

Jonathan Grimes 2 years ago from Devon Author

Hi, I use Photoshop for most of my digital work and find it amazing to work with.

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