Category Archives: Dragons

Sketching at Manchester Museum

So, one of my plans for 2016 is to sketch more (maybe one of my plans for 2016 should be to update my blog more often…ahem). As well as sketching in coffee shops, in the house and at the park, I’ve paid a few visits to Manchester Museum to draw their stuffed animals. The first time I sketched wolves (which led to a mixed media piece called Not Out of the Woods) and the second time I drew a nine-banded armadillo. This week I wanted to research dragons.

Now, you may think that they wouldn’t have dragons in Manchester Museum, but you would be wrong! I wasn’t expecting to see any actual dragons, but I found a rather appealing eastern bearded specimen in one of their display cases, along with a number of other lizards.

Lizard Sketches from Manchester Museum
Lizard Sketches. The Eastern Bearded Dragon is at the top left.

I am really enjoying sketching with Faber-Castell Pitt artist brush pens at the moment. I’ve been using the finer ones for a while, but until recently I more or less ignored the ones with brush tips. You really can’t be at all tentative about your sketching using these, which makes a change for me…and I like the results! For most of these I used Cold Grey IV and added a bit of tonal variety with the lighter Cold Grey I.

Sketches of bats, snakeskin, toad's eye and skin
‘Eye of frog, and wool of bat’…or something like that.

I was expecting to sketch a lot of birds in flight, but there weren’t too many in the museum. However, bat wings are surely closer to dragon wings than birds’ wings are, so I went with this Fruit Bat (poor thing looks a bit crispy in real life…I don’t think bat wings respond well to taxidermy). I also drew some snake and cane toad skin and the toad’s eye. The cane toad’s bumpy skin is similar to my idea of the skin on a dragon’s face.

Sketches of lizard faces, dog bat, bird talonHere is another bat, along with some different lizard faces and a griffon vulture’s foot. This unfortunate tuatara was pickled, and looks a bit pained!

Sketches of a crocodile skull and stuffed albatross
Saltwater crocodile skull and a wandering albatross

I finished off with this crocodile skull, which was amazingly textured, though I didn’t spend much time trying to capture that…I was mostly interested in the teeth and the shape of the jaw. I finally sketched a bird with outstretched wings in the shape of this albatross. It’s not really saying ‘dragon’ to me, but it might be useful!

Here Be Dragons

My current illustration project (see my previous post) is proceeding well.  I’ve been drawing the froggicorn himself, but for the past couple of weeks I’ve mainly been focusing on dragons.

Dragonscale border in progress
Border in progress

Almost every double page spread in the book will have its own border.  This is the dragonscale border I designed for the main dragon page.  I used Letraset Aqua Markers, working on top with coloured pencils.  I’ll be using the same media for all the Froggicorn illustrations, sometimes with the addition of some paint.

Pencil sketch of the dragon's head
Pencil sketch of the dragon’s head

Although this dragon is the kind of fearsome beast who appears in Western stories, I have to admit to a little bit of Far Eastern influence in the way I decided to portray him.

Dragon's head in colour
Nearly finished

I’m not sure which part of the story I’ll tackle next.  The Froggicorn hiding among reeds? The unicorn? The faun? The mermaid? I’m spoilt for choice, really…