I should point out that only about half of the book, ‘The Art Of Drawing Dragons’ by Michael Dobrzychi, is devoted to an assortment of dragons, the rest is to assorted fantasy creatures as mentioned in the small print sub-title on the cover.
Like all the Walter Foster imprint books, you get a detailing of the kinds of things you need to draw and ink your masterpieces, although it lacks useful tips. I mean, if you draw with charcoal and need to fix the drawing so it doesn’t smudge, won’t you’ve shaken the dust off, you can use a cheap hairspray as a fixative. Dobrzychi’s technique for shading is to do a bit at a time, although depending how you learn, you might prefer to encase the entire picture, working out all the block blacks, that is the absolute in shade and then work out to the finer shades. With the various dragons, his technique shows the various dragon illustrations in various levels of being built so probably helps there. If anything, I’m surprised he didn’t do some really dark dragons but then there is an absence of backgrounds and light sources.
I do think your head is going to spin a little with the dragon varieties. No limbs. Wings. Arms with wings. Legs and wings. Length of neck and tail. Probably the biggest change is that only oriental and eastern dragons have human eyes whereas the rest stick with reptilian. It does make me wonder if oriental dragons can disguise themselves as humans and the little snippets of info reveals some can.
Something that became very clear as I read is that if you learn one important lesson from this book is how you build your creatures up from shapes. It’s a bit disconcerting that a vertical balance line isn’t laid in because an understanding of that also means you can do a more action posed image simply by going off the balance line. I did notice that the techniques and complexity did develop over the dragons so if you’re planning to work your way through the book then you will also develop with them. An added bonus to this is that this book can also be treated as a bestiary or reference to the various dragon types around the world.
With the assorted other mythological creatures, it really becomes apparent with the orcs, that Dobrzychi doesn’t lay in a diaphragm and hence an important structure in the internal skeletons of these creatures. Considering that it is essentially a half moon shape , it’s an odd neglect. The only two he appears to have missed out is mermaids and pookas although that might be down to page count.
If you learn the principle of anything can be built out of egg ovoids, spheres, pyramids, cylinders and so forth, then this will serve you in good stead in drawing anything, including those human things that are even more dangerous than dragons. You must also remember that Dobrzychi doesn’t indicate how long it takes to put any of these drawings together. Once you get the principles from how he shows them, you’d probably complete an illustration in a couple hours but don’t be afraid to spread it out over a couple days as the final polish will show you thinks you might need to work on.
(pub: Walter Foster Publishing/Quarto. 144 page illustrated indexed very large softcover. Price: £12.99 (UK), $19.95 (US), $24.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-60058-012-3)