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Fantasy Art Tutorials in the FARP Section

Drawing Dwarfs

By :-) Dmitry Terner

   Let me start out by saying that this is a hint article. I do not present this as 'the' way of looking at dwarfs. In fact it is very difficult to create a character article because of the varying views on what these creatures should look like. This image of the dwarf is the combination of many sources, starting with J.R.R. Tolkien and continuing through all the incarnations of dwarfs in fantasy literature. I am not talking of earlier concepts of dwarfs and not the lovable little men that befriended Snow White. Although I bet they would be fun to draw as well. Now then, let's get to it.


    What is the essence of dwarfs then? Well according to Tolkien they were created before the children of Illuvatar came to earth, but put to sleep so they may awaken after their arrival. They were carved from stone, and bear close relation to it. They are short sturdy people. Great craftsmen, and Warriors. They are held by very rigid rules and understanding of the world around them. They love expensive shiny things and good craftsmanship, but they may be stingy. These beings are dwarfs.


   Now in drawing these creatures, we have to question where they come from how they live, and what was the inspiration for creating them. Well it seems obvious that dwarfs rose out of Norse mythology. Therefore the look should be remotely Norse recalling the influence of the Vikings. This is underlined by the fact that they are also great warriors.




   In drawing anything proportion is essential, I looked at different references and came up with a sort of over generalized theory which I believe is the best way of tackling this problem.

  • Dwarfs are between 3 and a half and four heads high.
  • The neck is below the shoulder line
  • They are twice as tall as they are wide
  • The fingertips come down to their knees.




   If we continue along the Viking train of thought and exaggerate it ever so slightly, we come up with the perfect Dwarven fashions. Furs always have a great look (fig 2,3,5), for the detail oriented, it is a great idea to attach a lot of metal. Hammered disks serve as armor and decoration. The robes may be embroidered at the hem (fig 1,3). Bracelets and cuffs of metal and leather further support the look. Chains with massive golden decorations also look good(fig 1). I think dwarfs may or may not wear pants, if you choose pants make them believable by making them loose and tucked into the boot (fig 1) . Boots are a different point, there is the standard boot that seems to be preferred, but a different approach is a soft shoe with a hard sole, held up by leather laces like a sandal (fig 1). Dwarfs may also wear helmets these can be of varying design so use youe imagination. As always a picture is worth a thousand words bellow are some examples.



Hair Styles

   Hair styles can vary greatly and be a great expression of the Dwarf, There is the uncombed look that is standard (fig 1), long hair beards. Although the more fashionable dwarf may want to go for that special look. Pony tails on the top of the head held up by metal bands look nice (fig 2), As well a forked beards (fig 4,5). Beards may be forked with accessories as well such as small rings with gemstones. Braids may suit the warrior, although avoid making them look like dread locks (fig 3,5). Again refer to the illustrations for examples.




   It is a well known fact that dwarfs prefer battle axes to other weapons, although for more variety broad -swords and war hammers may be added dwarfs may also carry daggers in addition to other weapons. These would all be highly decorated, handles being encrusted with gold and gem-stones.



Design elements

   Decorations are of utmost important so here are some hints,hammered disks with rivets are great (fig 6a), Celtic Knots would work as embroidery, or on shield rims(fig 6b),abstract swirly designs recall the viking influence (fig 6c). Animal motifs can work as well (fig 6d) could be an elaborate butt of a sword or can actually serve as a hair band. Bird motifs can work as well try (fig 6e) on a shield. The rest are simply more examples adapted from the vikings(fig 6 f), experiment with their placement if you like, or try creating your own based on these.


   Well that about covers what I think are fundementals of drawing dwarfs. I really hope this article is helpfull or at the very least inspirational. Happy Drawing.

dwarf2 dwarf3
dwarf4 dwarf5
dwarf6 6a 6b
6c 6d 6e

FARP Article Guestbook

17 Feb 2008:-) Laura Cates
Hello. I’m new here and am basically a beginning level artist, so I have lots of questions, mistakes.....you know the drill. I don’t have internet access at home (working on it still) so I use the public library a lot. Therefore, I need to print a lot of this stuff to take home to practice with. Therein lies my problem. I can’t get the entire page to print on a lot of the tutorials. It cuts off the right hand side. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks for any help!

17 Feb 2008:-) Laura Cates
Oh, by the way.......Tolkien was not the first person to write about elves not being pixies. Long long ago, there were stories written about the Seelie and Unseelie courts. Those were around before Tolkien. Lord Dunsany had a lot to say about them. Then there’s Tam Lin.

Just putting in my 2 coppers worth.

22 Jan 200945 Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat
I liked this tutorial. It kept to the actual ideas of the fey that were dwarves, from the Celtic and Norse lands, which Dungeons and Dragons were smart enough to know their lore and base it on their games. The incorporation of Celtic knots and other motifs from other lands give the usually fantasy, unreal dwarves a hint of reality, and that seems better, for an artist, to give their work something for others to relate to.

I thoroughly enjoy reading this author’s tutorials, honestly. Please write some more.
6 Nov 200945 MzHades
These are rather good drawings. Maybe some combat poses... Those would be good. And people who are mocking this tutorial, shut your faces. Criticism is good, but don’t try and destroy people’s self-esteem. I really like how you didn’t do any horned helmets. Dwarves were originally designed in the myths to be miniature Vikings, and despite popular belief Vikings never wore horned helmets, because such silly headgear would interfere with their fighting style. For people who are thinking of other ways to do armor, Vikings also wore leather with shards of bone sewn in.
(I’m kind of a Viking fanatic, my ancestors were some, and I like dwarves also as a result, and it just makes me happy to see a good dwarf).
12 Nov 200945 Asgaard
I dont like these dwarfs. Too cartoony.
27 Sep 201045 Rietta May
22 shame to that rude person who claims he/she knows better, this page has some wonderful art on it. if that creep felt that they new better he/she wouldn’t comment and move on to find something better!

this dwarf drawings have been particularly helpful for me well done 12
29 Nov 201045 Anon.
hAy ai am is rossia nax!
29 Nov 201045 Rossia
hay ai am anton! he a you
13 Apr 201145 Anon.


8 Nov 201345 Anon.
they all look like fuckin shit
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