Marin Balabanov, November 2013
In this episode we take a look at drawing a fire breathing dragon using pencil, pen and computer coloring with Pixelmator on a Mac. (Video auf Englisch)
The Enigmatic Baboon is the video cast by Marin Balabanov about comic books, video games, science fiction, drawing and mobile devices.
Hello and welcome to the Enigmatic Baboon. In this episode we will take a look at how to draw a dragon.
The finished image is a green dragon standing on a rock breathing fire. What did I use to get there? Well I start out with a sketch on paper. I use a mechanical pencil, an eraser, a fine technical pen and a thicker pen. I use drawing board and a computer with a graphics tablet.
First of all I pencil sketch the general shape of the dragon and then start working in the details of the form. Then I switch to the technical pen. I start cleaning up the contours and adding some more details.
After erasing the pencil line I use a thicker pen to give the lines some weight and add blacks for shadows.
Then I have my finished ink drawing which I scan into the computer - you can get good results using a good mobile phone camera and a steady hand.
Once I have the ink drawing on my computer I load it up into a painting program. In this case I use Pixelmator, quite an awesome and affordable piece of software. You can of course use Photoshop or Gimp.
I convert the image to grayscales and increase the contrast to get a cleaner line. Then I select only the black lines and use the selection to fill the contours in pure black on a separate layer. This is important, because in the beginning I will be working beneath layer with the contours.
Now I start coloring the image on the layer beneath. I use fat brush and then fill up the enclosed areas of the same color.
Once this is done I start shading the colored areas with the burn tool. Sometimes I prefer not using the burn tool but rather use a darker shade of the same color. I like that the burn tool gives me more nuanced shades and repeated strokes over the same area will produce a darker color.
So these are the steps: Color, shade with the burn tool, add highlights using the dodge tool.
Then I switch to layer with the line art and start smudging the line art. This allows me to work in even more detail. I can change some of the lines, add more depth to some of the coloring and make the line a bit less jarring in some areas by making it lighter.
I then merge the layers and start smudging the line art into the coloring to make it more organic. This gives the image a much more painterly quality and I can continue to add details and make the occasional corrections.
At this point it is a too and fro between smudging, adding highlights using the dodge tool and deepening shades using the burn tool.
Once I am happy I extend the canvas to give the dragon more space. Then I expand the rock by smudging with a large brush.
The fire is easy: I just add some red and yellow strokes on a seperate layer, add a diagonal motion blur and make the layer more transparent. Then I erase the parts where the teeth would be in front of the flame.
The background is a gradient fill from light blue to a saturated turqoise. The clouds are white brush strokes with some motion blur and transparency.
And now we have a green dragon perching on a rock breathing fire!
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