Author Topic: How To Get A Dragon To Guard Your Cress  (Read 1326 times)

Jubal

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How To Get A Dragon To Guard Your Cress
« on: April 22, 2018, 09:14:52 PM »
How To Get A Dragon To Guard Your Cress

So, I made a dragon recently! I decided to make Cara a cress-growing tub for her birthday, so I got a margarine tub, bulked the base out with some cardboard to even out the taper, and then set to work. I built up the walls with a first patchy layer of green stuff to even them out better, and then added a second and used a fairly blunt straight-edged sculpting tool to press the impressions of the individual blocks into the stone. The effect was a bit rough but I was fine with the castle looking that way - the plan being for it to end up overgrown, after all!



Two bits of the main structure got extra work - the battlements were a separate feature, added in four strips and then moulded onto the lip of the margarine tub. I'd have liked to get the crenellation blocks more even and more squared, something I got better at as I went along but I think they looked fine. I liked the fact this method made the battlements jut out - it gave the castle more shape. The other main architectural feature was the door. The base of the door was added at the same time as the stone around it, as you can see in the above picture, with threading added with a scalpel to give a wood grain effect. Having the door flush with the stonework looked a bit odd, so I added an archway around it which improved matters, and then finally I added doorknobs and hinges (each one a tiny separate piece of green stuff pressed on at the edge).



Now I had a castle, but I had yet grander plans for the design of this thing. I had a roughly body-shaped leftover blob of green stuff, so I added a second layer for scales (which were pressed into the putty with the flat of the pointed end of the scalpel) and back spines to that, and then started sculpting the rough shape of a head. Attaching the body to the walls was tricky, especially given I rather stupidly wasn't using any sort of armature - the basic forearms were the first attachment points for the body, with the claws roughly sculpted to the end of those and scales added with a second layer of putty a little later. Once I had the rear legs done (which were easier now the proto-dragon's position was set) the whole thing was affixed to the wall fairly well and looked reasonably like it might be climbing it...



The next stage was to add more features. I sculpted bits of extra stuff on the head bit by bit as the sculpt went on - you can see here that the face-side spines aren't yet attached, and I built up the nostrils more after this point as well. The neck was a reasonably easy job, just a tube coming up from body to head that I pressed scales into and pinched spines up from. I did the tail in one go with a long roll of green stuff, pinching up and then cutting notches in a line to make the spines and flattening out an arrow-shaped tail end. This method of doing the ridge of back spines via pinching wasn't very clean - a lot of them ended up being rather blocky as my fingers aren't so sharp - but the blockiness probably made them easier to get a good paint job onto and made them stand out fairly well from a distance.



The wings were tricky to make, and the process actually changed from one to the other. In both cases I made them by cutting out a bit of plastic sheet (from the lid of the margarine tub which I still had lying around), smoothing it out to shape, and then adding thin rolls of green stuff for the digits/structural parts. The back of the wings was trickier. My first wing I left to dry too long, so that the back of it was too smooth and flat - it looked weird. So I added a small amount of GS across where the bones were on the other side, building it thicker to give the back of the wing some texture. The other (after an initial mishap where I forgot it needed to be a mirror of the first wing) I got right - managing to remove it from the plastic and flipping it before it had cured completely, so I got the green stuff to flop a bit around the shape of the bones and giving a nicer, thinner wing. These are the ones on the left (thicker) and right (thinner) above. In both cases I made some scalpel cuts to give the edges of the wings more texture. I attached them by sculpting some big muscles onto the back with deep sinew markings which essentially envelop the near-side bone of each wing and make it look a bit more like there might actually be enough strength for them to fly (even if, given the size, they'd probably have to rotate them like a bee for wings like this to work).



And here's the whole thing in green-form. Now I just needed to get some paint on it...



Here we are post-painting. I'll talk about the castle first since you can see a bit of it here. I did the basecoat for the whole thing in chaos black, the standard GW basecoating spray. A dark grey everywhere was the next job - and then I had to think about decoration. The door I did with a medium brown (I mixed a bit of ochre in so it wouldn't be too dark), and then decided on gold for the decorations - black felt like it wouldn't stand out, and silver felt like it might look too "clean". With the stonework, I drybrushed a lighter grey on, which was a bit patchy given it was the first time I'd really tried drybrushing as a technique but I think it helped nonetheless. I then added some patches of muddy green and yellow for moss and lichen respectively, to give the whole thing a more aged feel. I kept the inside of the tub clean of paint - I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to seal paint well enough for cress to be happy, so erred on the side of caution.



The dragon was, predictably, trickier, and took several more coats in places. The ultramarine paint which formed the main part of his coat turned out to be extremely thin, and took several layers before it showed up - I eventually did a coat that mixed it with a tiny bit of white, which helped. The 50/50 ultramarine/white mix on the belly and wings showed up a lot better, though painting the belly was finicky and I don't think the bits under the legs went very well - fortunately, that's not somewhere people are likely to stare too much. Given the blue colour scheme, gold was the obvious complementary choice for the details, so I did it for the claws, back spines, and horns, and it dried nice and shiny. I used a gold/red mix for the eyes so they've got just a little bit of shine on them as well. I'm not sure if the gold nostrils/snout worked, but I did it and decided it would be better not to try and change it back again. The face took several variants - one early version had it mostly in the lighter blue right around the mouth and snout, but I abandoned that in favour of keeping the light blue just on the throat, and added the gold (and a bit of red inside the mouth) to give a bit more in the way of features to the face.



And finally, after a layer of matt varnish was added (which helped bring out some of the colours better as well as protecting the piece), it was all done! Here are the pictures of the completed piece, plus cress (grown with some damp kitchen towel in the bottom, onto which I sowed the cress seeds - I put them in a bag in the cupboard for a few days to germinate, then they got about a day and a half on my windowsill to green up before I transported the whole thing to Cara's birthday do - which was possibly the most nerve-wracking part of the whole process, I put the thing in several layers of bubble wrap and was petrified of the wings getting knocked off whilst I was on the ubahn. Fortunately, it got delivered safely :)








And that's that! Thanks for reading :)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 08:29:54 AM by Jubal »
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comrade_general

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Re: How To Get A Dragon To Guard Your Cress
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2018, 09:23:13 PM »
Well done m8. Technique and details are on point.
I'd be more apathetic if I weren't so lethargic.

Jubal

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Re: How To Get A Dragon To Guard Your Cress
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2018, 09:33:08 PM »
Thankyou! :) Weirdly some bits of the sculpting were easier than some of the other projects I've got going on - I guess the dragon being slightly larger is helpful, things like the face details that mess me up on smaller models aren't such a problem with something this size.

I have a couple more fun ideas for bigger sculpts, but sadly I don't have much time for them at the moment... maybe after the US trip I'll get back to it again.
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Caradìlis

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Re: How To Get A Dragon To Guard Your Cress
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2018, 12:47:32 AM »
Thank you again... :)
It really is the most thoughtful, beautiful and wonderful present I ever got (and I actually got my Hogwarts letter). I am absolutely in love with it and I couldn't possibly be happier right now... Thank you.
"Those who don't beieve in magic will never find it." - Roald Dahl

Jubal

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Re: How To Get A Dragon To Guard Your Cress
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2018, 09:15:19 AM »
How's the cress doing? :)
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Caradìlis

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Re: How To Get A Dragon To Guard Your Cress
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2018, 10:21:55 AM »
Half eaten, but the rest is doing well... ;) thank you... :)
"Those who don't beieve in magic will never find it." - Roald Dahl

Jubal

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Re: How To Get A Dragon To Guard Your Cress
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2018, 10:35:02 PM »
Bien, I'm glad :)
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