Dragonart Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon, by J "NeonDragon" Peffer

Yesterday afternoon the boys and I had a very pleasant time drawing dragons, with the help of a new book -- Dragonart Evolution: How to Draw Everything Dragon, by J "NeonDragon" Peffer (Impact, 2010, 144 pages). It's the sort of book that just makes you want to open it up and start drawing....so we did!

In her book, Peffer emphasises the importance of getting a basic grasp of dragon anatomy--thinking how bones and muscles work together to create realistic creatures. She doesn't immediately plunge the book's users into step by step drawing of particular dragons, but encourages them to practice--the basic shapes, the framework, the building blocks. For particular aspects of detailed anatomy, she offers a variety of approaches.

I have tried dragon drawing in the past, and I have found that I have trouble with scales--all that repetition is daunting. But! I fear scales no more. With the help of Dragonart Evolution's six handy scale patterns, each presented in four steps, I feel that there is hope for my scale drawing (no pun intended). And this is just one of the many very, very detailed aspects of dragon drawing included in this book. Jaws, beaks, ears, wings, crests....all are offered to the book's user in a variety of shapes and manifestations. You can see the two page spread on Ears (and other pages of the book) here!

In the next section, the practitioner is encouraged to draw a wide variety of whole dragons, step by step from rough shapes to fine detail (I particularly liked the baby dragon, with its discussion of how the youngster would differ anatomically from the adult). It helps to have practiced hard with sketch after sketch of dragon anatomy before trying any of these; without doing that, one might not (and I speak from experience) get a decent final picture (there are reasons why I am not posting what I drew yesterday!). It's not a book for younger kids, who may well get frustrated (which my seven year old did, although he was the only one who actually finished a picture, but he's not allowing me to post it).

But creating perfect copies of particular dragons isn't the point of this book--it is more a set of practice templates, that can be used to build the skill set of the aspiring artist. I think that if I kept practicing, using this book's suggestions, I could create rather nice dragon drawings...They would look very different from Peffer's dragons (which I think of as the graphic novel/computer game sort of dragons), but they would, almost certainly, be more anatomically correct, and more diverse, than what I draw now!

In short, it's easy to recommend this book to any ten year old on up who wants to try their hand, or hone their skills, at dragon drawing.

I think this is the sort of a book that makes a great present (when you want to buy a book for a kid, and don't know what's on his or her shelves), especially when coupled with, perhaps, a deluxe watercolor set, or a copy of Photoshop. I include the later because a useful bonus feature of the book is a four page guide to digital painting, which is how the author creates her own artwork. I'm not sure it's enough in and of itself to teach novices how to create digital art, but it seems as though it would be helpful.

Here's another fine dragon drawing book, rather different in approach, that I reviewed long ago--Ralph Masiello's Dragon Drawing Book (2007, Charlesbridge)

(disclaimer: review copy of Dragonart Evolution received from the publisher)

The Non-fictin Monday Round-up is at Madigan Reads today! (her book for the round-up is also fantasy/crafty--zombie felties!!!)


  1. Now I want to draw a dragon! Maybe we'll spot one on a page of your doodles someday.

  2. Hi Charlotte, I enjoyed your review! Thanks for the link to the interior spread -- a picture can be worth a thousand words sometimes.

    I loved the full-color dragons from Ralph Masiello's book, but I think you're right. Sketching overall shapes leads to a better artistic skill across the board. Masiello's method reminded me a bit of a much more complex Ed Emberley (who I also love).

    Hope to see you at the next NonFiction Monday.

  3. Thanks for the review. We'll have to keep this one in mind for when my 7-year-old is a little older.


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