Fantasy dragon art and how I painted my own
See how I painted my own Dragon art
Fantasy dragon art has always been a passion of mine and after 20 years of collecting fantasy art books, I have plenty of inspiration. I dabble in digital fantasy art myself and the step-by-step below shows you briefly how I work. I am not an artist that sticks to a set path but just takes the painting as it comes. Fantasy art is a fascinating subject and watching the dragon art come to life will always be a great feeling.
There be a dragon here, beware and enjoy!
My new fantasy art blog
Scribbles, doodles and fantasy illustration
If you like my dragon art then take a look at my new blog filling up with strange scribbles and illustration over atThe Art of Jonathan Grimes.
The tools I used for my very own dragon art
Adesso drawing tablet and Photoshop
Like most digital artists today, painting on the computer requires more than just a mouse. Graphics tablets (link to drawing tablets) are an absolute must when it comes to today digital art and illustration.
Drawing tablets come in many shapes and sizes, and varying prices. Like many things today, there is some truth in the saying 'you get what you pay for', but not all Drawing tablets need to be expensive.
At the moment I am using the Adesso drawing tablet which has a great specification, and in the grand scheme of things, is well priced. It's specification is on par with many graphics tablets that are considerably more in price.
Adesso drawing tablet
The Adesso drawing tablet offers a high specification drawing tablet at a price much lower than other tablets of the same specification. For a more indepth review of the Adesso drawing tablet take a look at this Adesso Drawing Tablet Review
Photoshop, the software of choice
Photoshop is very versatile and easy to master, the possibilities are endless
There are many digital art software packages on the market, but at the moment I am using Photoshop for most of my digital art. The scope of the functionality within Photoshop is superb for the fantasy art I produce.
Like many digital art software packages, the freedom of working digitally is fantastic. There are to many advantages to list, but the ability to have multiple layers on your artwork is great. Layers that you can turn off and on, as you need them. The ability to blend layers, overlay images and multiple undos, is second to none.
Photoshop brushes can be customised and used changed with the click of a button, helping to achieve textures and a more painterly style. Photoshop functionality is vast and is a whole other lens, but needless to say that using it for digital art is superb.
What digital art software do you use?
Sketchbook roughs, the stating point for any of my fantasy dragon art - The sketchbook is the starting point for most of my fantasy dragon art
The fantasy art dragon pencil sketch can be seen 17 seconds into the video. Everything starts from a small pencil sketch or as a digital sketch on the ipad2.
Step 1 - Scan pencil image - Everything starts of in a very basic way
Nearly all the paintings I start, begin life as a scibble with the pages of a sketchbook. These are then scanned into the computer via a simple but effective scanner. The initial line drawing has a thin layer of tone added to it, which removes that white background starring back at you.
I don't have a set way of working but seem to let the image grow. Working on the background, I like to create some kind of setting in which to place the main character. I will always return to the background throughout the life of the painting and there are times when I have to stop myself from tweaking the.
At this stage, it's just a matter of getting something on the surface to start the ball rolling. With digital painting tools you can do this initial work on a separate layer to that of the main pencil scan. This allows you to restart and change as many times as you like, due to the freedom you have with digital art.
step 2 - Start to add layers of colour
Another layer of tone is added to the image. This is to start the ball rolling and start to get something down on the initial pencil scan. Photoshop allows you to have as many layers as you want. You can blend them in many ways, turn them off when required and manipulate them in many different ways. Photoshops versatility is second to none, but for this image, I lay down another light brown colour across te whole image.
Step 3 - Start to add layers of texture - Texture can be added with a brush or an image overlay
In step three I start to add more layers of colour and texture. This is the part of the digital painting process I don't like, as I am eager to see the finished painting, and at this stage things start to look messy. I also jump from one area to the next, which seems a little random, but this is the way I work. Some areas will get more attention and be taken to a stage where I can start to build up detail, while other areas are no more than the pencil sketch. I work like this on a lot of my paintings and it comes form being impatiant and wanting to add detail,
The aim for this digital painting was to have the dragons head popping out of a sandy wall and this is the initial start to try and achieve this effect. With digital art you can also overlay photographic textures, and then blend them into your chosen colour scheme. This can be very effective and help to mask the digital feel of some computer art. You would be surprised at the digital tricks that can be applied to reduce the stale digital feel some digital art can have,
Photoshop allows you to have many brushes at your finger tips, and the press of a button means you can change the brush at any time. You also have contol on the width and pressure of the brush stroke. Many combinations are available and you can even make you own custom brushes. For this particular dragon art, the brush was oddly shaped with a texture, which would help with the painterly rough feel I was after.
Step 4 - Start to add shape
In this step I start to add some shape to the main dragon head and the textured brush is used to add faint areas to the background. As I have mentioned, my style of working is very hap-hazzard, and I jump around from back to front, from dragon head to texture. Doing this gives me a sence of finishing the painting. Maybe I should have a more focusd approach, but at the moment, the style of painting seems to work for me. I advise that whatever the style of work and process that works for you, is fine. There is no set and correct way of working, only what is best for you and that you are happy with the end result.
Step 5 - Adding stronger areas of colour - The dragon art starts to take shape
Stronger areas start to appear and at this stage I am looking to start getting to grips with fleshing out areas and adding detail.
Step 6 - Adding more texture
In this step I have added a layer which is a texture image of sand stone. This layer is added and blended over the layers below giving a texture to the whole painting. I didn't want this particular texture to cover the whole area, so certain areas are then taken out with the rubber tool, simple but very effective.
Step 7 - Light direction - Make your fantasy dragon art more vibrant by ensuring a strong directional light source
A strong directional light source casts shadows and in my paintings I like the effect strange looking shadows can have on a painting. Here I start to highlight certain areas and have a good idea as to where and how the shadows will be placed. Large surface areas can be brought to life with strange shadowy shapes dancing across the surface, idal for fantasy art.
Step 8 - Adding shadow - Combat the highlights with shadow, but shadows don't have to be dark!
In this step, we see the start of the shadow areas beginning to creep in. I like the contrast in light and dark and always try to use colour in my shadows. Shadows do not have to be dark, and using black as a shadow will just reduce the impact of the painting. I will go a little overboard with the shadow areas and make it as interesting as the highlights. It's at this stage I also start to pick out various details, which I will then build upon and add to.
Step 9 - Adding detail and colour, the fun part - The dragon art starts to really come to life
In these later stages, the detail starts to be applied and the shadow areas are focused on. Even at this stage I am still jumping from one area to another. I might work on the background one minute, then jump to adding detail to the main head area. It's a case of going with the flow of the painting and what works. The details start to grow and the painting is now at a stage where I am happy working on it. I continue to add detail and colour to multiple various areas, and the final step shows you the result.
Step 10 - concentrate on the focal areas - Focus the detail on the main area of interest
In this step we see the additional detail added throughout the dragon art. It also shows that the final detailing is in the areas I what the viewer to focus on, and this is the head. Looking at the image now, I would add more detail to the dragon head and less to the surrounding areas, just enough to sharpen and make the dragon head pop out of the image. In real life, when looking at every day objects, the actual object is in focus but everything else is very much visuble, but just out of focus.
This is the part of painting fantasy dragon art that I like the most. Hours, days and sometimes weeks of hard toil, result in an image I am happy with, sort of. The detail and lighting make the piece come to life and it's time to sit back and see what you have created. I am one of those people that are never totally satisfied with their work and beleive there is always room for more detail.
My published dragon artwork
If you like my dragon art you might like to take a look at my other fantasy art. This time it has been published within the pages of Dragon World, a fantasy art book by Impact books.
Other fantasy art lenses you might be interested in
As someone who like fantasy art, collects fantasy art books, there are a few other Squidoo lenses you might be interested in, and see the links below.
Dragon World, dragon art book from Impact book Dragon World brings together many different artists from the on-line art gallery, Deviant Art. There be lots of dragons here and some great art to.
As a collector of fantasy art books, I have highlighted a few here that I think are great books. More to follow, put the fantasy artwork is well worth a look.
My other artwork!
Being a budding artist I have produced a few other pieces which can be seen via my gallery website, and feedback is always welcome.