In each panel I will show you step by step how to create a Celtic Dragon. Each new step will be in red. As you go through the panels, old steps will turn gold, and there will be a new step highlighted, again in red.

Here we have a Snake design, with the traditional Snake eyes and nose. Notice he basically acts like a Celtic Knot, but has the typical snake head and spade shaped tail at the ends. You can pick any Snake from a Celtic piece of artwork for your transformation (make sure your source is not copyright protected before you copy it! Always contact the artist if possible and get their permission, or use an ancient source instead). First you want to make the Snake pretty much as you see it from your source, but you may either omit or later block out the head and tail areas.

To begin the transformation I have kept the body of the Snake the same, but have removed the head and tail from the old Snake to give myself some room to work.

I have also here erased a portion of the body where the head will go, and have started the head shape of my Dragon. You can make up any style of head for your dragon that you want, but for now I will show you how to do the one that I like to use for my Dragons. Begin with a sloping line that starts where the old Snake head used to emerge from the knot. The two bumps that you see here will form the eyebrow and the nose of the head, when we are done, and they can be made as pronounced or not as you like. Keep in mind that the head can be tweaked after you have it all made, so it doesn't have to be perfect at this point yet.

We now finish the other half of the head. Draw the throat area, and scoop out to make the cheek. This swoops in again to make a small mouth and muzzle area, before joining up to the nose we made before.

I also like to put a brow-plate on some of my Dragons, so I'll show you how to do that next. Start by drawing a center line from not quite the middle of the back of his head, and then continue down until you reach the point of his nose. The brow-plates branch out from this center line. The one side of the brow-plate will end at the side of his face, on the far side, so there isn't much you have to do there, except for making the little curve from the side of his face (on the far side) to the center line by his forehead. To make the brow-plate on the inside of his face, make a line that basically mirrors that outside edge of his face that we were just talking about. This should give you a pretty symmetrical brow-plate for your Dragon.

Now we begin to add his ruff or fan around his head. This is a scooping line that starts from his throat, and then eventually ends at his cheekbone. Make this as scoopy or not as you want. Add his eye below the brow-plate, and the nostril on the nose.

Now Snakes are generally pretty skinny from start to finish, so for my Dragons I like to add some curves to his body. You want the knot to remain pretty symmetrical yet, so the place I have picked for my "belly bulge" is the curve that his head passes over, on the bottom of the knot. His body will taper to either side of this bulge, only slightly towards his head, and then much more pronounced towards his tail. I have also elongated the tail here so that it crosses under his head. Had I let it to end where it did back when he was a Snake, his new big head would have covered the end of the tail. Cap the tail with a fancy shape, I like to use the spade shape like Snakes have, but that's my preference only, pick something you like for yours!

Next, converting a Knot into a Dragon...

If you're enjoying these tutorials, you need to get a copy of my book Creating Celtic Knotwork: A Fresh Approach to Traditional Design, Published by Dover Publications, the book has much more information than these online tutorials have, more explanations, examples, exercises to work through... become a Celtic art master!

All tutorials copyright Cari Buziak, 1995-current