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WIP 77109: Fire Dragon

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Now that my Bones 4 order is here, my backwards brain decided it's finally time to paint the fire dragon I've had in my box of shame for a year and a half! I don't think I can claim that I'm "new to painting" anymore, but this is my first dragon and by far the biggest mini I've attempted thus far. In order to actually paint more things I like instead of saving them until I've practiced or become good enough to attempt them, I'm trying to adopt the mentality of trying at least one new technique with every mini I paint. Hopefully this will get me out of my comfort zone and into some new styles and skills. 


The focus of this guy is going to be blending, both wet and feathering. I'm still getting used to the process of documenting my WIPs, so if anybody has suggestions or requests (pics of my working palette, color recipes, what have you) please let me know. Lots of pics beyond the spoiler! 




I forgot to take a before image, so here's Reaper's stock photo of the fire dragon:




I didn't like the straightness of his wings, so I curved them out a bit with a hot bath. The effect is kinda tough to see from the side, sadly. I also used green stuff for the first time to fill the gaps where the wings attach. That stuff has a much stiffer consistency than I imagined. That's gonna take some getting used to, but the result wasn't too bad. I wish I'd taken pictures before priming, but oh well. On to the airbrush!




I mostly do zenithal priming these days unless I'm super impatient. The garage is the only place I can airbrush, so I'll usually do a bunch of priming sessions in the spring so I have things to paint throughout the rest of the year. I need to get some more practice in. I got a few spit drops of white on the wings and shoulders, and I've still got that kinda sandy look to the highlights. Maybe I need to use a bigger nozzle for white, it's a tricky thing to spray. I still just can't get over how cool this effect is, though. I don't play many games, but if I get back into any, monochrome zenithal is my new bare minimum before playing. 




Big jump here, I got excited. I've been putting off experimenting with wet blending for ages, so today I busted out the drying retarder and gave it a go. I used a pure dragon red as my light tone, a mix of that red, some oak brown and a touch of purple as my dark tone, and three shades of gradient between the two for a five shade gradient. The retarder really changed the consistency of the paint. Even without thinning it with water it became something like a glaze. Next time I'll probably halve the amount of retarder and replace it with water. The image above looks MUCH better than it actually did in person. The paint here is still pretty transparent and very spotty. 




A couple more coats and some more blending. It was around this time I realized that there wasn't enough contrast between my light and dark tones. My dark should have been my mid; the interstitial shades weren't doing much. From here on I started focusing on blending my light and dark tones on the model instead of relying on my pre-mixed gradients. 




Trying to do red over black is a minor fear of mine. Always comes out looking a bit chalky. I used my darker tone and kept the layers thin, just trying to build up a little color on the underside. 




Now we're getting somewhere. Started getting a feel for it and just kept on going up and down, back and forth, light and dark until it started to look a bit more natural. The beginning had me a little disheartened, because obviously it should be a display piece as soon as I put the first coat on, but I took a deep breath, conjured up some Bob Ross in my mind and carried on. I got a little giddy at this point. I'm doing it! I can do the thing! 



Emboldened by the tops, I continued with the undersides, creating a little more variation while attempting to keep them darker. Dear lord, I suck at photography. 


Now, it was time to make some big decisions. These wings have all kinds of delicious nooks and crannies begging for a wash. Usually I just slap some Army Painter Quickshade on model and move on, but I've been trying to move away from the dirty brown/muddy look that has a habit of creeping into my style. Some video I was watching mentioned that purple makes a good shade for red, so I mixed some purple into some strong tone quickshade and risked all my hard work by slopping it all over. 




The colors worked great, but everything got dulled down a little. This is probably a very basic and obvious phenomenon, but I'd never witnessed it on this scale before. So I got to work on brightening it back up with some highlighting. 






I wasn't exactly sure how to highlight these things. First I tried going over it again with my light tone, but the effect wasn't dramatic enough. I took some bright red and brightened it further with some white. I drybrushed it on and it looked a bit too bubblegummy. So I went to uncut bright red and drybrushed it right over the previous step, and it was exactly what I was looking for! That was a valuable lesson: I can over-highlight and then tone it back down to my target color. Very handy for restrained highlights on darker surfaces. 


Not sure what my next step is. I'm still trying to choose a scale palette. This guy's a little fly by night: I thought I was gonna go for a fleshy brown-yellow membranous wing, but that wasn't speaking to me, so his wings ended up the color I imagined his body would be. We'll see what happens, I guess! Thanks for looking at the things! That's very nice and makes me smile. See you next time, unless I get bored! 


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It took a while to muster up the courage to continue. I have a constant fear that once I'm happy with something, the next brush stroke will screw it up. Thankfully I got over it today and, since I wasn't sure what to do with the body, I decided to work on the underbelly in hopes that having the wings and belly done would allow me to meet them halfway for on the scales. 




I'm going for a kinda natural, muted look on this dragon, so I wanted a darkened bone color on the belly scales. A bit of skeleton bone and desert yellow provided the bright tone, and some leather brown was added in for the shaded areas. I was a bit wary of using the drying retarder again, but I was afraid that I'd never use it if I stopped now, so this time I mixed it 50:50 with water and used the mixture to thin my paint a bit. 




The first coat was still a bit thin and didn't carry much variation in tone. This would take a while. 




Another couple coats. Getting better, but still not enough variation. My photography skills are not improving to match my painting. 




Decided to get brave and try some wet blending again. Still need a lot of practice, but the overall look is getting closer. 




I went with two shades of wash: a flesh tone for the brightened neck, and a strong brown tone mixed with flesh wash for the underbelly. A little messy, but workable. After this I did some drybrushing of my bright tone over the raised middle areas, but I got excited and forgot to take pictures. 




After the drybrushing, I did another wash, this time of only flesh tone on the entire area. I'm finally starting to become happy with it. 




and finally, a bit more drybrushing of my light tone down the middle and on the edges. I think a style is starting to emerge here, and I'm more excited than afraid to continue! Hopefully the updates will come a bit faster now, but the next couple weeks may be busy. We'll see!







Edited by Zethia
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Scary, scary session today. I've never painted this much surface area on a mini before. Made some hard choices, some big decisions. Lots of pictures in the hidey box! 



So at the end of the last section, I'd finished the wings and belly scales. I've been noticing that I have a hard time getting a good amount of contrast, so I modified my 5 tone palette by making my former high tone my mid tone and using a pure bright red for my high tone.





With that decided, I used the mid to low tones to block in the base coat for the body, using my zenithal priming as a guide. The saturation wasn't quite high enough on the first coat, so a second was applied the same way. 







Looking better, though something weird happened with the front left shoulder. Looks like I spilled hot wax on it. I'll play with that later. I'm still trying to decide what to do with the membranes along the back ridge and the sides of the face; I could either go to a deep crimson/black or lighten it up with some orange/tan/yellow tones. The former would be easier, but the latter might look better. I also worked on brightening some spots on the head and along the back ridges. 


Finally, I wanted to bring it all together with a wash. This guy's scales are very rounded and pebbly, so I wanted to darken the recesses while also reflecting some color in the shadows. I mixed up some strong brown tone and purple, with a little more emphasis on the purple for the body than I did on the wings. 










That's all I had time for today, but I'm itching to go back and brighten up some areas again. The foundations of some good contrast are there, just gotta bring it out. If anyone has any recommendations for how to handle the membranes, I'm open to suggestions! After that I can start working on talons, horns, and face details. I'm starting to think I may want to do a fairly elaborate base. Might have to start to learn some green stuff sculpting! This project is doing wonders for my confidence. I think he's almost tabletop quality already, but I want to go beyond that if possible. Thanks for checking in! More to come soon, if all goes well! 



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Not much to report today other than I'm starting to brainstorm a bit on basing. It's the area I've the least experience in, so I may as well dive into the deep end. I've always wanted to do a diorama, so what am I waiting for? Playing around a little with some rough drafts. Any thoughts? 




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Well, this project just got a whole lot more complicated. I needed an emotional break from painting...hmm, this dragon needs a name. Gotta work on that. So after yesterday's tinkering, I broke out/up some cork and started kicking some ideas around. IMG_2171.thumb.JPG.4de75e102047e2494a4acf0d0a95b4f2.JPG


The cliff wasn't quite doing it for me, ate up too much of the base and crowded the wizard. I thought about having him on a hill instead, but had trouble choosing a setting. Couldn't figure out what a fire dragon was doing in a forest, didn't really have the space or a clear image in my head for mountains. A little dejected youtubing later and I ended up watching videos about lava bases, and everything clicked. I broke out the wood glue, made myself a nice solid chunk of cork and started carving some rock. 




Before I knew it, three hours had passed and I found myself running out the door to buy some spackling...




And after another two hours of chipping, scraping, stabbing, and scratching I had a decent perch for my grumpy guy. 










I'll have to stop there for tonight while the first layer of spackling dries, then I'll be able to better integrate it with the rocks. Then I'll just have to unflatten the rocks in the flow...finish painting the dragon...integrate the wizard....prime the wizard, paint the wizard, prime the base, learn to use my airbrush better to do a weird negative zenithal, study up on object source lighting, figure out how to paint lava...


My god, what have I done? 

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48 minutes ago, Corsair said:

It looks really great! I was looking at it and thinking of @Glitterwolf's Komodo Water diorama.


Probably because I used cork as well.

I used Vallejo Desert Sand Paste to obscure it and create rocks.

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39 minutes ago, Glitterwolf said:


Probably because I used cork as well.

I used Vallejo Desert Sand Paste to obscure it and create rocks.


Oooh, that's beautiful! I haven't tried textured paints/pastes yet, but after seeing that I may have to give it a shot. 

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10 hours ago, Zethia said:


Oooh, that's beautiful! I haven't tried textured paints/pastes yet, but after seeing that I may have to give it a shot. 


It needs to dry, when dry this one looks like a desert.

But when dry you can paint it and make it look like rocks/snow or other terrain.


I did that with this fellow's base.



Edited by Glitterwolf
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