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Excidium at the Nile


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Hi, folks. I've just started a huge project and figured that since it's based around one of the Reaper Dragons (Gauth) that I should go ahead and finally register here to show its progress. This thread will largely duplicate one over at Dakka Dakka, in case you're a member at both places, but this one may become the primary. Some of my previous works (excluding my Reaper pieces, oddly enough) are in a gallery over there.

 

The project is going to be a diorama of a dragon from Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, where dragons basically get turned into airborne frigates in the Napoleonic age. The dragon will be Excidium, for those who've read the books.

 

I'm going to convert the standing dragon into a flying pose, adding full rope-and-chain rigging using parts intended for model ships. 10mm scale Napoleonic infantry minis will provide a crew, and finally I'll mount it all on a pole so that it appears to be flying over an ocean. My goal is for the mounting pole to be hidden behind one of the wings as it makes a banking turn, and for the base to have a small ship (from one of the smaller scales) on it to provide altitude perspective.

 

Feedback on the piece as it is ongoing is welcome.

 

This will easily be my biggest and toughest conversion project EVER, and will be taking place over the course of the next month. It has a deadline of August 31, since it is for a contest that ends on that date. I'm off of school/work for the remainder of the summer, so I will definitely have time to work on it.

 

Things that I will be doing for the first time on this mini:

-Working with a dremel

-Working with model-scale rope/rigging

-"Solid Water" (the liquid stuff that hardens to look like water)

-Having a proper deadline

-Maybe Airbrushing

 

The first couple of pics are merely "hey look, a box!", but I always like reveal shots, so here they are (they also help provide a look at the scale of the mini):

 

a_box_2.jpg

a_unpack_b.jpg

 

Yesterday I was able to get to work on the model. Those who dread seeing expensive models get mutilated should hide their eyes.

 

When I opened the box, one of the model's feet had fallen off. That's okay, as I was already planning to chop off all of the feet anyways (the two back feet are connected to giant rocks, which are just not useful for a flying model). I'm going to make a mold of the top of that foot so that I can cast copies of them for the rest of the model. I'll have to hand-sculpt the bottom of the feet, but I'm OK doing that.

 

b_foot_a.jpg

 

b_foot_b.jpg

 

b_foot_c.jpg

 

Next step was actually opening up the Dremel!! This is the first electric tool I've bought specifically for use with minis, though I'm going to justify buying it by looking for things to do with it around the house. It's the cheapest model, though, so it doesn't need THAT much justification.

 

b_dremel_box.jpg

 

My first cut with the dremel tool, ever, was simply to cut off the other back foot. (You can also see my first dremel-based accident: a cut-burn-mark in the cutting pad.)

b_foot_chop.jpg

 

The dragons in the Temeraire-a-verse don't have the anthropomorphic upper arms that this model does; they're more strictly quadrupeds with wings. On top of that, the "RAWR" pose just doesn't work for an in-flight positioning. So, the arms had to be chopped off. When the time comes, I will be putting them back on backwards, to make them look more like legs than arms. Cast-and-sculpted feet (as mentioned above) will be used to replace the claws.

b_arm_a.jpg

 

b_arm_b.jpg

 

The lower body got THREE pinning holes, drilled large enough for copper rod instead of my usual paper clip pins. Needless to say, this thing is going to have some serious weight being supported across the body, and it will be horizontal instead of vertical as the model is designed. Hopefully this will support the rear-end of the model properly (since the only contact point with the base will be a giant rod through the upper body and maybe a screwed-on bracket).

b_lowerbody_a.jpg

 

b_lowerbody_b.jpg

 

Finally, green stuff got stuck in between the pins, matching holes were drilled in the upper body, and the two major chunks of body are now fused to one. Tomorrow, after the under-layer of putty has time to cure, I'll be sculpting another layer of Green Stuff to match the rest of the body.

b_body_a.jpg

 

b_body_b.jpg

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Ooooh, the first claw casting came out almost perfectly. Three more to make.

 

c_mold.jpg

Why do you need three more? I thought the fore limbs were going to wind up as rear legs?

 

I'll be watching this with great interest. I'd never heard of the series of books before looking at this thread. Glad to know about it; it sounds interesting.

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Why do you need three more? I thought the fore limbs were going to wind up as rear legs?

 

The front arms are going to be converted into front legs that are angled the same as the rear legs, rather than replacing the rear legs. Two of the claws are going to replace the model's hands (while the other two replace the rock-bound feet).

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Turns out I only need to make two extra feet, as I was able to convert the front claws into more feet-like pieces by chopping off the "thumbs". They otherwise match the rear feet fairly closely. I'll probably be sculpting the fill-in pieces on the front legs today.

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I've gotten some more work done on Excidium:

 

First, the front arms have been fully assembled: hands chopped off, thumbs removed from the hands to make them more like the feet, re-attached, and sculpted to fill in the gap as well as to give the front legs armor plates to resembles the back legs.

d_frontarms_a.jpg

 

d_frontarms_b.jpg

 

d_frontarms_c.jpg

 

The top piece of the head has been attached to the neck, but as I drilled through the forehead while installing a pin I'll have to do some GS work up there; I'll probably take advantage of it to give the dragon some scarring.

d_head.jpg

 

The tail has been pinned and test-fit (no glue yet, waiting until I get the legs all on before I go working on the tail or the head):

d_tail_pins.jpg

 

d_tail_testfit.jpg

 

Finally, a test fit of the body as it stands with most of the legs/feet in place along with the tail. This is roughly the pose the body will be in while flying, though there will naturally be quite a bit more filling in and sculpting of additional detail (such as the foreleg muscles being extended further into the body).

d_body_test_a.jpg

 

d_body_test_b.jpg

 

d_body_test_c.jpg

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Got the mounting pins in place on the head-end of the dragon and did a test fit: I'm happy with the overall angle of the body. I'd probably like to get the front legs a little more forward, but I'm not sure I'll be able to do that with the current state of all the pins. We'll see.

 

e_bodytest_a.jpg

 

e_bodytest_b.jpg

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The body fill has been completed; once it cures (tomorrow likely) I'll attach the rear feet and front legs, sculpting in fill to match. After that it's mounting it and attaching the wings, then beginning to do the rigging and crew. I'm still working out how exactly I'm going to paint it up, technique-wise, whether I'm going to try to keep the rigging/crew off until after the dragon is fully painted, or try to paint detail around ropes and tiny soldiers.

 

f_body_a.jpg

 

f_body_b.jpg

 

f_body_c.jpg

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Been a few days; on Friday I kind of broke the model trying to put a screw in the side of the body to mount it, so I had to spend a couple days slowly rebuilding the middle GS join. Today, though, time to get it on the base!

 

This isn't a permanent mounting, as neither end has been glued/green stuff'd. I've got a coupling bolt in the base, another one GS'd to a screw driven into the side of the dragon. Next step will be mounting the wings, and then it's to putting on the crew!

 

h_base_test_a.jpg

 

h_base_test_b.jpg

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How many crew do these frigate-dragons have?

 

The author is really careful to not give an exact count, I suspect because she doesn't want to get tied down into technicalities when they get in the way of a story. That said, from reading the books I'm going to go with the following crew for this dragon (which is sort of a mid-weight one as they go):

 

1 Captain

2 or 3 Lieutenants

4-6 Riflemen

1 Signal Ensign

6-8 misc. crew (lookouts, mainly, but they also repair rigging and drop bombs)

 

Total: 14-20

 

When not flying directly into combat, the dragon may also carry its ~3-man ground crew (especially when specifically in transit) but that's not really needed here.

 

This piece will be the first time I deal with 10mm minis, so hopefully I don't screw anything up too badly with them. :)

 

(In the books, the protagonist dragon is one of the larger breeds, and carries upwards of 30 crew and has a 6+ man ground crew.)

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