How to Paint Dragon Scales

Written by charong chow
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How to Paint Dragon Scales
Dragons are popular imaginary creatures all over the world. (dragons image by Aleksander from

Dragons have been in stories for millennia. "Gilgamesh," from 3000 B.C. Sumeria, features dragons, and the Scandinavians depicted them in the book "The Vikings," from 1000 A.D. The Chinese have used dragons in their astronomy and literature for centuries. Modern dragons are found in the "Harry Potter" books and in the video game "World of Warcraft." Most dragons in popular culture have scales similar to fish scales. You can easily paint them by drawing them first with pencil or charcoal. Then, you can finish your art work with paint.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Paper
  • Pencil or charcoal
  • Prepared canvas
  • Paints
  • Brushes
  • Water
  • Plastic cups

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  1. 1

    Study fish scales as a reference for your dragon scales. Dragon scales are typically oval diamond in shape, like fish scales.

  2. 2

    Draw a square on your paper, with pencil or charcoal, to practice your dragon scales. Create a grid with your square by adding the same number of lines going vertically and horizontally.

  3. 3

    Turn your paper, with the square grid, 90 degrees so it looks like a diamond. Draw elongated "U" shapes on all the diamonds created by the grid. You are creating a patch of scales. You can modify and experiment with these scales, by making them rounder or more angled. Later, you can just draw the "U" shapes for the scales without first drawing a grid.

  4. 4

    Draw your dragon with scales on sketch paper, and then transfer the drawing onto your final paper or prepared canvas for your painting. Draw your sketch lightly onto your canvas to begin.

  5. 5

    Paint your dragon and other images on your canvas. Give your scales tones, by adding shadow and highlights. Always take a step back every once in a while to see if your painting is working for you. Remember to allow your artistic intuition to shine through.

    How to Paint Dragon Scales
    Paint your dragon scales with lots of different tones. (Paint brush and aqua paints image by PaulPaladin from

Tips and warnings

  • Use metallic paint to give your dragon scales a shiny, hard look.
  • Add highlights by using white, and add shadow by using dark colours.
  • Paint with oil paints in a well-ventilated room.
  • Keep paints out of reach of young children.

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