After you determine what animals your dragon will take after, make a rudimentary framework of what the dragon will look like with basic shapes that combine the simple anatomy of your influences. Don’t add too much detail; you only need quick sketches. Use them to figure out the proportions of your image, the pose of the dragon, how long the tail will be, etc. Curved lines work well when drawing dragons as they play up their serpentine nature.
“Doing those quick little gesture sketches, without going into any detail, is going to give you a very powerful form,” Merien says.
For simplicity, start with a rectangle to mimic the dragon’s head, wider at the base and thinner at the nose. Use circles of varying sizes to simulate joints, like those of the wings. Use a connecting line to form the basis of the spine and tail. After that, if you connect the edges of your basic shapes, you will start to see the shape of the neck, tail, and torso. Fill out the dragon wings with big, swooping lines from each wingtip. Remember, you can craft each anatomical section to correspond with a real-world animal and use that as a reference for the structure of your dragon.