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SeaSaltShrimp's avatar

Tutorial: Dragon Designing Tips - part 3/3

Aaand last part! Which while not being the longest, gave me the most trouble hahaa.
Again, everything is meant to be tips, not rules that you absolutely must follow! I don't want to sound like you must change your character if your design doesn't follow what's written here, just do what you want yo. Even more so for part 3, basing a design on animals is just a thing I do a lot and it doesn't mean you absolutely need to do the same if it's not your cup of tea.
Lots of people have been asking how I go about using animals as inspiration, what to use as inspiration or what kind of animals can be used, I hope this answers everything c: I totally loved working on those two characters as examples.

Huge thanks to Herola for drawing a few headshots for the bottom part! I feel it's more effective to have examples drawn by a different person to explain this kind of topic :) so thanks again mwah :heart:
And thanks Cynderheart for allowing me to borrow Draico and his cool unique markings :) mwah

Also the part about evil dragons is not meant to sound offensive, or to point at anyone, just in case.

Also² somebody suggested I write something about accessories/armor and other wearable items too, which would be interesting to cover aswell. I might make a bonus part, but don't expect it for sure, I'll have to see if I can write enough about it (feel free to suggest things)


Now long  comment incoming ~

Ahem... So the "copying" part I really hope I didn't write in a way that could be interpreted the wrong way. I'm not talking about nit-picky details such as "same horn shape omg thief", and I'm not trying to make people paranoid and think similar ideas on two characters -> instant copy, or that similarities are bad. Two people can sometimes end up with very similar ideas without even knowing each other. Also note that I'm mostly talking about people's personal OCs being used as inspiration.

Most of the concerned people are young/beginner artists, who get inspired by someone's character and they want one "just as cool", so they'll take things from this design, and sometimes they take a bit too much, including things that the artist tried hard to make unique and personal. It's not always easy to tell where a design stops being inspired and turns into a copy (opinions differ), and they don't always realize it's something the large majority of artists doesn't appreciate, especially if it's a character that means a lot to them.

Let's also mention that sometimes people will accuse someone of 'copying' for something as small as "both characters are white and red" or "they're both chinese dragons". So this goes both ways, some get attacked for no reason. I actually wrote a journal about that some time ago:…
Similar tail blade, or similar colors does not mean instant copy. One similar detail, or two, does not mean instant copy. Those can be simple coincidences and the person might have never realized someone else had the same idea. "Similar" and flat "copy" are two very different things.


So yeah, I wanted to mention this in the tutorial and others said I really should too. Let's be honest this is a big issue in the cartoon dragon community (and others, but this one I've seen the most). Those who know me will know what I think, but it's honestly a bit tiring to always see people complain about "flat copies of the same character everywhere", yet nothing is done about it. And by that I don't mean attacking people on sight (sometimes for invalid reasons), but I mean I haven't seen anyone try to calmly EXPLAIN what the problem is.

So I hope I wrote this objectively enough. Of course opinions differ, but there are basic boundaries to not cross so a design doesn't become too heavily similar, especially when it comes to someone's personal OCs, and these are the 3 examples in the tutorial. Beyond that, it's up to people's opinions so I won't address that.

(Also no, I'm definitely not expecting to make a difference with this issue. I mostly just wanted to share my thoughts in detail, and give some advice as it does count for character designing. But if that can help just ONE person I'd be really happy. )

So yeah, I rambled a bit but don't think I was ranting there, I'm really not. Opinions are welcome, but no bashing others in the comments please (look at all that anxious-talking wow who will even manage to read through all of this)
I really want to address this and see what people think too, but it's such a touchy topic and I'm afraid of not using the right words to explain it;;  So heck we'll see

Part 1: Tutorial: Dragon Designing Tips - part 1/3 by Fourth-Star  Part 2: Tutorial: Dragon Designing Tips - part 2/3 by Fourth-Star
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IridescentMirage's avatar
It's wonderful that you have compiled such a guide to share with everyone, especially one that applies to characters even outside of the main topic! I'll be certain to direct artists who come to me with similar questions to this tutorial from now on.
Mikes118's avatar
Yeah, I know this kind of things about "try not to draw the same design than someone else", and basicaly this is how from the Night Fury, I came to my own dragon, by changing shapes and things.

Anyway, your tutorials (all the parts) still something helpfull, for peoples who do the commun mistakes, or to see how you do things.

Great job with it. ^^

(By the way, may I ask you if you would tell me what do you think of my dragon, if I show you?)
ZaxArtz's avatar
This deserves a Daily Deviation to be perfectly honest. It's funny, informative, and corrects some of the most common mistakes made when designing dragon characters. Very well done!
ElKhronista's avatar
STUNNING work! I love your tutorials, you do it really well! Them are so clear, so clean, so well explained ... I have no words, great !! <333333
Zeivogel's avatar
I have to say, I did not expect that as a result, not even considering three parts of which I wouldn't call a tutorial anymore, but an educational guide! Each one is full of interesting and useful information and I feel like everything has been covered up. As you said, even interesting for the experienced people, with tons of information. And as a guy who has an affinity for knowledge, I approve this :)
And it's also executed quite professionally I say, simplistic, no fancy frills that cause distraction, well organized, example images and all. And I especially loved these little doodles on the side for commentary^^ As a guy who approaches this stuff on a scholar base, I approve this :)
My appreciation and applause to you for putting all this effort into this. :iconmladyplz:
TyraDragoness's avatar
buttcrocodralion  :iconmegustaplz:
MissUnashamed's avatar
Soooooo neeeeaaaaat Lovey-dovey Fella (Love) 
TheDragonChronicler's avatar
If you ever put your tutorials into a book on how to draw dragons, I'd read it! 
Leafcrowns's avatar
SeaSaltShrimp's avatar
GroxikavonDarkside's avatar
Okay... now I can inform you this is one of the best tutorials I ever read :D (next to the book Making Comics)
I kinda want Buttcrocodralion to be a thing now xD

April fools reference sheet? Anyone?
Doukz's avatar
don't kill me but-

a tutorial
on how to draw sans or papyrus

would be amazing

I mean just LOOK at this tutorial
It's so detailed but it's REALLY easy to understand ;u;

Sorry for asking ;A;
SeaSaltShrimp's avatar
oh maaann that would be cool but it surely wouldn't be as DETAILED as this xD
Mmm well there's this little thing I made a while ago when someone noted me for a quick help on drawing them, it's not great but well that's something I guess?? :') Yop
Doukz's avatar
oml thank you!!! ;o;;;

This helps a lot!! :'DD
AudreyLatias's avatar
Is what you could advise me to change the appearance of some of my dragons that some sounds too much like the other. If yes, I'll send you the notes.
Integral-Love's avatar
"Similar colors doesn't automatically mean copied"
Ya, right!
Some people said my characters looks like "My Little Pony" characters 'cos they're colorful and have a little similar eyes, but they're my own characters and I didn't inspired them by "My Little Pony" series 

I don't understand it... event they're not ponies 
DorkWolf-Nightmare's avatar
Yesss Thanks shrimp that's gonna be really REALLY HELPFUL ;U; guess now I'm ready to some changes XD
Kitsuta's avatar
The vulture dragon's left foot I love it
Jokes aside, I think this is a really helpful tutorial! It must've been a lot of fun designing all of the dragons you used in these.
Now I must go, for you have inspired me to create some dragons c:
Rarity71's avatar
Omg Thank you so much this is so helpful!
AriesAlpineSavi's avatar
oh this is brilliant and so helpful! Would you mind me asking for some input on one of my beloved dragon OCs from middle school? I feel like her anatomy especially is all over the place and I would love some input on what animal/animals I should consider using as her base for referencing to keep her consistent (:
Lunoxius's avatar
At the part about evil dragonesses with similar designs, my OC popped into mind. xD 

Very useful tips and suggestions! Will definitely give this a look whenever I get to redesigning my characters! 
Anais-thunder-pen's avatar
Magnifique tutoriel ! :dummy:
on apprend beaucoup de choses au niveau anathomie ! >w<
j’espère que des personnes qui aime bien voler de style de personnage von comprendre comment crée une personnage...
cela m'est déjà arrivé de découvrir qu'on copie mes personnage :'D
FRAT-RAT's avatar
hello! After reading through your tutorials i got really inspired to try to design my own dragon.

Is it alright (if you have time) if you could give me a critique? 
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