I am not one of those people who have a natural talent for dragons. Its like horses, you are either awesome at it, or have to struggle to grasp the anatomy by pages and pages of studies. For my independent study, where I am illustrating scenes of 'The Hobbit' as a portfolio exercise, I am drawing the great Dragon himself, Smaug attacking Lake Town. When I first thought of illustrating the scene I wasn't thinking of how I haven't drawn a Dragon since maybe the beginning of high school,( and even then I was drawing japanese dragons based off of wood block prints, not European Dragons.)
Luckily, there are many illustrators who are great at Dragons to study. My favorite was William O'Connor, who happened to have 2 books called Dracopedia, that are filled with Dragons of all designs. After a few days of studying his books and doing pages of studies in my sketchbook, I worked up the courage to draw a large scale drawing of Smaug.
It would have been difficult to start Smaug with out the studies to work off of. Unfortunately this drawing was to large for the scanner, so enjoy the poor quality iphone photo. After completing the drawing, I realized it was a good first try, but needed more work to make him unique and not a standard dragon, after all he is SMAUG.
The 2nd drawing of Smaug turned out much better. After more studies of anatomy I got the feeling I wanted, I gave him a longer head to balance out the body and lost some of the other parts, like those little wing things on his tail. Over all, a more simple design. But now I have to draw all the scales on this guy... its going to be time consuming, but it will pay off when I use this image as reference for the final illustration.
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For more sketches and a back log of illustrations.