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February 11, 2009
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WP's Dragon Guide, part 03 by Paperiapina WP's Dragon Guide, part 03 by Paperiapina
And back again, just when you thought I might have stopped, my dragon nagging continues!

Previous part: [link]

Well, I was supposed to upload this already weeks ago, but my scanner and I had some disagreements about the situation.

Oh, and before I forget, I'd like to thank ~shiari, who first told me about "the hanging butt syndrome" looooong ago. I don't know whether she is the person who made the term up or not (in case you did, sorry for stealing your term) but it is a really good term. So thanks! ^^

And HUUUUUGE thanks to everyone who commented on the previous parts of this guide. Sorry that I haven't answered you all, but I sure read every comment and enjoyed them! ^^

All comments are highly appreciated! ^^
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Saphira1334 Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
*SHRIEK finally someone who understands i knew there was a reason that whole hanging butt syndrome (lolz) was bothering me before i really started drawing dragons
anhedral Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
An excellent tutorial, informative and hilarious. You see so many depictions of dragons that pay no respect to anatomy or aerodynamics, so it was fantastic to see all of the important considerations set out in these three pages.

Personally, I have some problems seeing dragons as hexapods. In evolutionary terms it places them completely apart from all other land vertebrates, and I don't quite see how you would fit the musculature for two pairs of limbs in the front part of the body. There could also be power-to-weight ratio problems for a large flying reptile with four legs. Instead, I think the giant pterosaurs would make a great starting point. They've certainly got the size, and you could always make some small-ish skeletal modifications for the purposes of fantasy. A nice one would be to modify the articulation of digits 1-3 to give a primative manipulator on each wing.

Again, excellent work Paperiapina!
larry03052 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2013
Some other thoughts...

Avatar has made people aware of the Meissner effect where superconductors will float in a magnetic field. One assumption one might make is that dragon bones are, in fact, loaded with unobtainium (I prefer the name upsidaisium - Squirrel and Moose discovered it first). Probably not enough to fly unassisted, but enough to cancel quite a lot of weight. This also explains why dragon bones are magical and highly sought after.

Another idea...limbs are described by HOX genes, which are master genes that click on or off depending on their generation and their location in the body. You probably have seen polydactyle cats who have way more than the normal number of toes. A bat-like animal with such a mutation would be able to support a larger and stronger wing. If the mutation actually affected individual limb segments, rather than the whole limb, segments would bifurcate - rather than upper arm to lower arm, upper arm to lower arm one and two, then lower arm one to hand one and two, doubling the number of bones at each segment. The resulting wing is quite complex, but could potentially be huge and quite strong. Add in a little graphite fiber, and you've got a wing big enough and strong enough for a dragon, that can still fold up.

With regard to's no accident their wings are very handlike. Many biologists have expressed the opinion that outside of actual primates like monkeys and apes, bats may be our closest living relatives, having branched off of the protoprimate ancestor we share. Kind of makes flying humans just a bit more plausible.

One final idea, a hexapod ancestor might arise by a stutter mutation in the hox gene controlling limb development, providing the extra limb needed. Contrariwaise, it is also possible that the draconic wing evolved from the front legs, but the front limbs came from another source, some portion of the clavicle developing a spur that might support a "pseudo-limb" which would function as a front leg, but might not resemble a "normal" leg, and may be quite different in structure.

</end braindump>
Orionide5 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2013
Very nice, and you drew the pterosaur's wing structure perfectly. Interestingly pterosaurs probably didn't have bulging flight muscles on their core; instead it's distributed around the body and the base of the arms, making the pterosaur airplane-shaped while in flight. This helps because pterosaurs couldn't bend their necks much; they had to hold their heads pointing directly forwards while in flight.

One last thing that could be mentioned: Pterosaurs attained much larger sizes than bats and correspondingly have much better adapted wings. Whereas bats just have a skin membrane between the fingers, the wings of advanced pterosaurs were based on a layer of stiff fibers for reinforcement, had a muscle layer that allowed them to change their wing shape (dragons with bat wings might not need this since they have multiple wing fingers) and had air pockets within the wing membrane that made the wing an airfoil shape.
Sasiadragon Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
If you are ever considering continuing this four-year-old pile of awesomeness, please drop a word about eye-placement. That book you've mentioned also has this problem, and I've seen it a lot of other places at well: The dragon is a mighty predator, knowing to hunt down buffalos and elephants and blue whales, and so on and so forth ... with the eyes painted on the sides of their head.
I guess that since this is four years old, you don't want me to point out mistakes, right? Even though this is an excellent guide and could help a lot of dragon artists, there's a few things that bugs me, not about the points and the info, but the "why should you do this"-parts.
Paperiapina Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Student General Artist
Oh, you have no idea of how much I'd like to redo this whole thing. There's so much things I'd want to address that wasn't mentioned here (like DRAGONRIDERS) but hnnnnnngh! So much ideas, so little time (and so little ability to organize it all coherently).
Sasiadragon Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Organizing is not that important. Better good guide with no organizing than no guide with no organizing, if you know what I mean. But I understand if there's no time for it :)
Dragonriders really have caused me a headache. The best thing I could come up with was that dragons trained for soldiers had got a cut in each wing for the rider's legs/feet early in their life ... it just seems quite brutal.
Majass Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
I looove this series of tutorials! Thanks for posting them!

I thought I'd point out that what you mentioned on the bat wing anatomy is actually a common misconception. What was described as the palm is actually the wrist bones of a bat, and the first long "digits" are actually the metacarpals, or "palm" hand bones of a bat :) Here's a link to show what I mean! [link]
Paperiapina Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Student General Artist
I should really re-do this thingy, I've learned so much more since I drew these (nearly four years ago!) that they kind of bother me. I swear I'll update this someday. Someday...

I'm still glad they amuse you! :)
Majass Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
Yay I think you should! :D They're very helpful!
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