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Tutorial: How to draw scales-Part 1

Learn the basic steps of how to draw scales with this tutorial

studies of scales

Dragons, koi fish and mermaids, wyrms, nagas and snakes, apart from being awesome creatures whether real or fantastic, all share one physical characteristic: scales.

Scales are every beginner tattooist’s nemesis. Every aspiring artist’s mind bender. Drawing a snake for the first time has internationally and untimely almost always ended up a failed session of brain gymnastics. Followed by frustration and disappointment that has people questioning the importance of scales in general...

"I could just not do the scales, I mean, it still looks like a fish anyway..." was what i told myself whenever I decided to draw anything with scales. And to be honest I did dodge every chance to learn for a while, until I started tattooing. What was I supposed to say? Admit i can't draw scales or claim scales are out of fashion?

As always I started the wrong way. I repeatedly drew scale shaped lines, hoping that somehow they'll end up looking correct. I know some people can do that, either because of longtime experience or immense brain power, but I'm absolutely, most positively not one of them. So I had to understand some kind of method that always comes out right and follow it.

This however is also easier said than done, when the body the scales are on starts twisting and turning. Not to mention depth of field and foreshortening distortion. But all of it ends up being easy and possible when you start to understand a few basic things. In this first part I'll go through the very basic rules of drawing scales on a flat surface, then on a cylinder which is the shape most commonly scales are on (snakes, dragons, fish etc).

So if you're looking for a way to improve your scales, grab a couple of pens in different colours and a ruler, and give it a go with this tutorial!


If you found that tutorial useful go ahead and watch Part 2 where I apply everything mentioned above, on a Koi fish!



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