Everybody in the HTTYD fandom has felt the pain and realized a universal truth: Night Furies are hard to draw. If you consider yourself the ultimate fan of HTTYD, yet can’t draw a dragon to save your life, don’t suffer the shame! Not to fear, many artists have conquered their inability to draw this legendary beast. It is not impossible!
Hopefully, by reading this post and practicing, practicing, practicing, you, the average HTTYD fan, can draw the offspring of Lightning and Death too!
In this guide, I will be teaching you all the tips and tricks I use to draw a Night Fury correctly. You will learn all about guidelines and Night Fury anatomy. I will thoroughly explore how to draw each part of the Night Fury, from head to tail. At the end, there will be a tutorial for you to apply what you have learned. I will also include at the bottom links to other guides, tutorials, and awesome Night Fury fan art.
Want to learn? Then grab a pencil and a piece of paper. Ready, set, fly!
First up, we will be learning about the Night Fury’s head. Of course, this is one of the most challenging part of this dragon. If the face is not right, the picture is not right. This is because faces are what spark the recognition part of our brains. After, all you don’t look at your friend’s body to see who she is. Unless he/she has a very special clothing style. You look at his/her face!
When drawing, I almost always use some sort of guidelines. These temporary lines help me to place features correctly. Toothless’s face is a very weird shape, and this is why he is so hard to put down on paper. The closest shape to his face shape is an oval.
His eyes will be in different places depending on exactly what perspective you are using. If you are drawing a Night Fury’s face at about the normal angle they hold it at, then the eyes will be near the middle, but moved slightly downward. Like in the picture.
As you can see, the eyes have a slight overhang. This gives them a bit more shape. The nostrils are small, and require only two little lines. In case you are wondering, I normally do not draw mouths on Night Furies unless they are growling or smiling, because it is really hard to see Night Fury’s mouths anyway.
Now: Proportions. In some HTTYD art that I have seen, some artists have Night Fury face proportions all off. Now, sometimes, it is stylized, like Tsao Shin’s art.
But if you are trying to draw a realistic Night Fury, then proportions must be learned. When drawing this dragon’s ears, please try to remember that they are not lumps of flesh sitting on its head, but actually things that move! They give expression! And have shape. The ears are rounded a little on the top.
(Refer to picture above this gif). Ear size (highlighted in green): From the frontal view, his ears are about as long as the length from the top of his head to the bottom of his eye. From the profile view, his ears are about as long as the length from the top of his head to the edge of his eye.
For the smaller “nubs” on the top of his head, ensure they are no bigger than the Night Fury’s eye. Same goes for the nubs on the side of his head. The upper side nub is bigger than the lower one.
There are three basic ways to draw Toothless. I can’t explain perspective in this tutorial, because, first of all, it is way too long to include. Second, I myself do not know how to use it, therefore, it is useless for me to teach about what I don’t know.
There is (from left to right) frontal view (includes both heads on upper row), 3/4, and profile. In my opinion, 3/4 is the hardest to draw a Night Fury in. It is in fact by itself a difficult view to master, and drawing a Night Fury only makes it tougher.
Frontal view is what I have been teaching, and profile view is simple. In profile view, I would advise not to include the upper nubs on the top of the Night Fury’s head, because the ears are hiding them.
Expressions: If you give no expression (just big irises and pricked ears) the Night Fury should give off a cute or curious look. If he is surprised, make the eyes a little wider and the iris a little narrower than normal. If he is happy, widen the irises. If he is angry or scared, make the eyes narrow and the irises slits. Also lower the ears.
On to the body!
It can make me angry when Night Fury proportions are off! Oftentimes, especially in popular HTTYD fanart, the entire body is off, not to mention the face!
Just look up ‘HTTYD screensavers’ and pay attention to the fanart, not screenshots, that show up. In most of them, the chest is too small, and is the size of the head!
The Night Fury, like most animals, has a bigger chest than head. When looking at the body in profile, you can see that his chest is the lowest part of his body (excluding the tail). His belly neatly tucks in, and his back slopes towards his tail very slightly.
His neck is also quite short and chubby-ish.
Now for the legs! Night Fury legs are also very hard to draw. This is because his legs are kind of stumpy, and they change depending on Toothless’s height. What do I mean by that? Toothless can raise his head and raise himself higher. As you can see by my drawing, when he is higher, his legs are thinner, and when he is lower, his legs appear to be shorter and thicker. Also, when he is viewed from the front, his legs sometimes bend inwards a little.
Here are some more examples of Toothless’ changing height.
Also, Toothless is plantigrade, not digitigrade. This means he walks on the sole of the foot, not the toes. His front legs bend backwards, like elbows, and his back legs bend forwards, like knees.
Moving on to the tail and wings!
The Night Fury’s tail is a little longer than his body! My sketchbook was a little small, so I did not draw his tail long enough.
The base fins (the ones at the base of his tail) are each the size of his head. Same for the tail fins. The base fins begin where depicted in the picture.
Here, in this picture, you can see that the edge of the wing membrane actually attaches slightly behind the tail fins. For proportions of the fins, refer to this picture. The wings have six wing fingers, the base fins have three, and the tail fins have five.
When I draw the tail, I often bend the tail bones a little. In order to give the tail fins the distinctive shape, follow the length guide in the above picture. Also, so nobody makes this mistake, Toothless’ prosthetic tail is on the left. His left. Some reference screenshots you may find on the internet are flipped, resulting in a very confused fan.
Toothless’s back spikes start at the base of his neck and continue down his back until the base fins. There, they become noticeably smaller in size and travel down the side of the tail like so. They stop before the tail fin.
Wings! The Night Fury is the fastest dragon out there, and can break the sound barrier! He has to get all that thrust from somewhere- his gigantic wings!
The Night Fury’s wingspan to body ratio is one of the best. Each wing is about the size of his body (not including tail). According to a source (not sure where, but this is fact), Toothless the Night Fury is 26 ft. long and has a wingspan of 48 ft.
His base fins stretch out wide enough to nearly touch his wings! And in this image (taken from my copy of The Art of How To Train Your Dragon) you can see the base and tail fin’s size.
Hey! You made it to the end!!! Great work, diligent fellow fan! Now, are you ready to apply all that mind boggling information?
Here is the promised tutorial! If you decide to use it, you will get one picture of your very own Night Fury or Toothless! (no Hiccup included)
First off, start with guidelines! An oval for the head and a circle for the chest and rear area. Remember, the tummy tucks in and the back slopes.
Now the tail and the legs can be drawn in. Use a line for the tail, and bent lines for the legs. I drew lines underneath the legs to represent where the legs would touch the ground.
Add on the wing part. The left wing is hidden behind his body and folded, so all you see is the little bit sticking out. I also drew in the base fin already.
Zooming in to work on the face. Draw in the eyes and nostrils, and then the outline around his face. Also add the little side nubs. This Night Fury’s irises are large, because he/she is in a calm, nonthreatening position.
Now the rest of the facial details. Add ears, top nubs, and a hint of the side nubs on the other side. Also draw in the tiny spikes on the top of his/her head.
We are going to zoom out now, and work on the legs. Draw those in, and add three little claws on the end of each foot. Toothless actually has four, but most of the time, you see only three.
Go to the wing guideline, and draw in what you see here. The wing is folded over. Also make sure to add two little curved lines where the wing attaches to his body. This is the shoulder.
Now draw in some long lines and curve the wing membrane inwards, since he is not flying, and the membrane is not stretched. If you’re wondering what is near the edge of the wing, that is a bit of an eraser. I messed up. Hey, it just goes to show even artists aren’t perfect!
Now the tail.
Draw in some more lines behind the tail like so. The darker part is what you are drawing.
And guess what? We’re done! Now you have your very own Night Fury! Make sure to sign your name!
This was a very long tutorial/guide. I hope you enjoyed it and that it helped you! Now you will be able to draw Night Furies and wow your friends! Maybe you can even bring some more people over to the HTTYD fandom!
If you’re still wanting more or having trouble, just remember that there will sometimes be an ‘ugly stage’ to your art. Push through-you can get past it, and your art will turn out wonderful. Also, practice, practice, practice!!! I can’t stress this enough! And use references! Tons of them!
As promised, here are links to more great tutorials and realistic Night Fury art! I admire all the works these talented artists have produced. They are in fact the same artists who have inspired me!
Toothless investigating by JackTheVulture
There’s GOTTA be a better way by JackTheVulture
Night Fury by Lilian-art
NIght Fury on a Cliff by MonoFlax
Blasting the Mountainside by InHonoredGlory
Meetup by Monoflax
Toothless yet again by Dreamsofools
Toothless ROAR by Dreamsoffools
Anatomy of a Night Fury by Kudalyn
Night Fury Wing Diagram by Cavyspirit
Toothless’s anatomy by JackTheVulture
Game On by TsaoShin
Toothless by The Art of How To Train Your Dragon