The Last Flight of the War Drakes – Preliminary Drawing

Dragon Dragons in flight flying over landscape mountains fantasy art illustration drawing sketch

I’ve started working towards a new painting for the Leaves of Hellebore project, a piece that delves into part of the lore of the fantasy world and history that I’ve been creating and working on. It’s also imperative to start showing the landscape of the world as well within the artworks in order to contribute to a richer world building experience, so for this piece I have decided to kill two birds with one stone, Or two dragons…

With that in mind I have decided to publish this post to show some of the steps of my planning process beginning with the initial conception of this idea, leading up to the current stage that I’m at; the preliminary drawing.

When this piece culminates in the final painting, I will publish the written accompaniment with the finished artwork.

The Concept

dragons flying in flight sketch drawing art fantasy illustration j glover art josh glover

I came up with this idea for Part III of my Morning Coffee & Sketch series with the intention of it eventually being fleshed out and becoming a fully fledged artwork.

I wanted to show the Last Flight of the War Drakes as they flew with all their fury and hate to join the battalions of evil during the Fell War, ultimately leading to their demise and apparent extinction.

This initial sketch shows the dragons flying over some rocky mountainous plains which I later decided to change as it doesn’t hint at the landscape enough and is merely a suggestion of it but it worked out for this quick conception sketch.

The Planning Stage

Once I had decided to turn this piece from an initial concept into an artwork I had to get on with planning and making thumbnails to create a better looking piece but conveying the same idea and atmosphere.

I gathered some reference relevant to my theme and began to work on the planning.

dragon dragons in flight flying fantasy art illustration drawing sketch history thumbnails concept art
Sketchbook Thumbnails 1

I knocked up a few quick and small thumbnails and loosely sketched a few dragons in flight.

In the end, it was the final thumbnail that I decided to go with, which is the top left (I work from bottom right to top left because I am left handed and a serial smudger) the one that I had sketched with charcoal; a medium I’m becoming more and more fond of lately.

dragon dragons in flight flying fantasy art illustration drawing sketch history thumbnails concept art
Sketchbook Thumbnails 2

I then sketched a slightly larger thumbnail with a bit more detail in it working with a design that I felt looked the best for the concept. I also sketched a few more dragons in flight with no major details as they will be pretty distant from the viewer and about 90% silhouetted in the final painting.

The Final Drawing

Dragon Dragons in flight flying over landscape mountains fantasy art illustration drawing sketch
Finished Preliminary Drawing

After a few hours (most of which was spent sharpening charcoal pencils) I had a finished drawing ready to be translated onto a canvas with oil paint. I didn’t draw the dragons in great detail, many of them are of the simple schoolkid birds in the sky style as it seemed like a waste of time putting too much detail in at this stage; I’ll save that for the painting.

This drawing is 10 x 8 inches as will be the painting. I have already given the canvas a grey wash and the next step is to get the outlines of the foreground hill and distant mountains drawn on with charcoal before cracking on with the oil paint.

If you have any thoughts or feedback I would much appreciate to hear it and I also hope you would like to accompany me on this journey, you can stay updated with my posts by subscribing to my blog via email or following if you have a WordPress account. The subscription box can be found further down the page!

In the meantime, thank you for taking a look and until next time, farewell!




    1. Thank you very much, I’ll be starting the painting this week and I can’t wait to get to work on it and bring the idea to life.

      Yes, I chose my wording carefully as I don’t want to rule out the possibility of a dragon or two showing up later in the story; they’re too irresistible to draw and paint to be left out. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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