how to draw a cartoon dragon




Learn how to draw a cartoon dragon colored in red and filled with several textures, shadows and complex digital effects. Indeed, I will show you how to draw this interesting cartoon character using a side view while this one is flying throughout the sky. You will definitely need to use a vector application to create this animal (and know how to use most of its tools to create all these rich digital effects).

How to draw a cartoon dragon

step 1 - setting up our drawing using basic shapes

First, we need to sketch a few simple shapes to help us create a template to work with. All these shapes are needed so that we can nail the posture and all proportions before creating the final lines. A long oval shape can be drawn to form the head while a small circle is needed for the jaw. The body is also made from an oval shape while all other elements are made from irregular rectangles.

How to draw a cartoon dragon

step 2 - drawing all major body parts

It's now time to draw the cartoon dragon itself. Long curved lines are mostly used to represent the wings, the body, the tail, the head, the legs and the arms. Once all lines are created (shown in blue below), you can erase all orange shapes drawn in the previous step. 

How to draw a cartoon dragon

step 3 - adding a few details on the cartoon dragon

Inside the visible wing, draw a few long curved lines to complete the pattern. A long curved line is also added along the chest (and all the way to the tip of the tail). The pupil and the eye are made from simple curved lines with pointed ends and three nails are sketched on each foot. 

How to draw a cartoon dragon

step 4 - even more details before adding colors

The back of the character is covered with small spikes made from tiny triangles. You can use the same shape to draw all teeth. The nose and the ear are made from a simple line and more curved lines are added on the chest and the tail of the cartoon dragon. That's it for the drawing aspect of this lesson. It's now time to play with colors.

How to draw a cartoon dragon

step 5 - bright colors to give life to the character

Let's make this fun dragon red and yellow. For the red color, you can apply this one on the body, the head, the wings, the arms and the legs. The yellow color is used for all spikes, the patch on the stomach and the pupil. All teeth and nails are white. Make sure that the wing located behind the first one is filled with a darker color. You can also use colors on all outlines (instead of using a simple black color).

How to draw a cartoon dragon

step 6 - color gradients to create depth and volume

Using the color gradients tool, you can now add a second color to all shapes to create more depth inside the illustration. Notice how the bottom of the body is now darker than the top. It's also the same case with the wing, the jaw, the pupil, the arms and the legs. Even all the little spikes are yellow on top and orange on the bottom.

How to draw a cartoon dragon

step 7 - Drawing more shadows to increase the 3D look of the character

Inside the cartoon dragon, you can now sketch several small (and larger) shadows to create more volume. All these shapes are filled with a darker color and must be partially transparent so that we can end up with a very subtle effect. Strong shadows are not recommended. We want soft and delicate shapes to enhance some areas of the drawing.



These areas include the wing (near the long curved lines), above the mouth, on the pupil, around the eye and below the jaw. You can also draw shadows below the arms, on the patches found on the chest and around the leg. The blue outlines are not needed (they were only used to help you locate the new shapes).

How to draw a cartoon dragon

step 8 - highlights to create even more volume

Now that we have created dark areas on the character to represent shadows, let's sketch bright ones to form reflections and highlights. This time, we want to enhance sections that are exposed to the light source. Don't forget that these shapes must also be partially transparent so that we can end up with a very subtle result.

How to draw a cartoon dragon

step 9 - Textures to complete the picture

If you want to increase a little bit the level of realism of this illustration, you can also add textures using a variety of small curved lines made from pointed ends. All lines are colored in red. It can be a good idea to make the whole set partially transparent too. Great! Let's see how the character should look like now! :)

How to draw a cartoon dragon

a beautiful dragon loaded with appealing digital effects

Once all effects are applied, you should end up with something like this. Feel free to increase the level of realism by adding more shadows, reflections and textures. You could also try to draw the same character using different postures and facial expressions. Be creative!

How to draw a cartoon dragon
How to draw a cartoon dragon


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