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WIP 77109: Fire Dragon

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Been a bit of a crazy week, but I'm committed to not letting this become another abandoned project. Any little bit of progress is progress, so I did a little basing work yesterday and today. 




I roughed up my rocks a bit and added another layer of spackling to integrate them into the lava flow. At this point I wasn't quite happy with the flatness of the whole thing, and the second layer of spackling was a bit higher than I anticipated. I did get to play with some sculpting tools to smooth out the surface, which was fun. Lots of 24 hour drying time waits with basing, definitely my least favorite part about this. 




Added a little more height to my stones. It was around this time I realized that I wasn't happy with the roughness of the spackling surface, didn't quite feel right. Decided I was gonna have to do something terrifying. First though, I needed some bubbles. After going through my collection of beads for about an hour looking for some that would work, I remembered that I own green stuff now and felt slightly foolish. 




It's almost there, I can see what I want it to be. But of course, first I have to risk destroying I'm now realizing is a base that I've already put over 10 hours of work into. Time to break out the Gorilla Wood Glue and give flooding a shot! 




Dear god, that was horrifying. 






I just finished doing this about 30 minutes ago, so it's gonna be a looooooong and frightening wait to see how it looks once it's dry. Hopefully I haven't made a terrible mistake. Don't know if I'll have to add a bit more to the rocks or if I like the look of them being swallowed up. I guess I won't know until it's all set. Hopefully when I post again, this thing will at least be primed! 

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The wait was excruciating, but after two days the glue was finally dry. (I may have gotten a little carried away with it. Time to prime!




I had wondered if two layers of spackling and a thick layer of glue was overkill, but the experiment really paid off. The spackling created a nice level of subtle variation in the lava's surface, and the blue smoothed everything out nicely. I love the oozy, undulating look.




At first I was afraid that the rocks were being covered up too much, but I like the impression it gives of the rocks sinking or being swallowed up. The bubbles are a bit less subtle than I'd hoped, but they're kinda helping define the scene. This is looking less like a lava flow and more like a boiling pool, maybe the inside of a volcano. I'll need to do my hot spots carefully.




I still haven't figured out OSL, but I know that I don't want a standard bright zenithal effect on these rocks. They're gonna remain pretty dark and crispy volcanic rocks. I did a little bit of low-angle grey over the black and omitted my usual pure white from the top. 




I want the eye to be drawn up the rocks to the dragon, so I kept the back a bit darker and did maybe a little more than necessary on the front edge. Not sure how that'll work out. Now comes the scary part...




Success! I've only ever used my airbrush for some pretty simple priming. It was a joy to successfully navigate those tight spaces with the spray. 



I wasn't quite sure how I felt about those drips at first, but I think they'll look pretty cool dripping off the edge. Letting the lava run right off the canvas, so to speak. 




Tomorrow will be a fun day with the airbrush! Lest I forget why I started working on this crazy thing...








I promise I'll get back to him soon!

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I like the scene so far.

Good position for the dragon.

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Airbrush day! This project just keeps giving me new things to try, and I love it. I'd been in a plateau for a while, and I FINALLY feel like I'm starting to break through it. On to the fun!


This one's gonna be pretty image heavy, so I'll start with the result and post the step-by-step afterwards in the spoiler box.




This is just after airbrushing; I'm still gonna touch up the rocks tonight. Click the thingy for the full breakdown!



I really didn't have any idea where to start with painting lava bases, so I did some research and gathered various tips. Full credit where it's due: if you like the result here and need a lava base, this is the video I relied most heavily on




I started with some undershading of a fur brown near the rocks. I'm still learning how to thin my paints properly, and I was still being a bit timid with my spraying, so it came out far too subtle and I'm not sure it really had any effect on the final product, but it was some good practice and helped me figure out my distance and PSI needs.






Next up was a coat of Dragon Red. I let the overspray fall pretty heavily, and it caught on the grey zenithal priming on the rocks from the last post. I like the effect! Kinda sorta OSL, or at least the start of it. 






Focusing on the bubbles as sources, I laid some undershade for hotspots over the red with pure white. These middle steps are the ones that make me the most paranoid. It looks weird, nothing like lava, and I was nervous that I'd just ruined the whole thing. I'm getting used to this feeling, though, and am starting to recognize when I just need to power through and keep going until it's right.






Next was a broad spray of lava orange; both over the white spots and the red. It's hard to tell from the photos, but the gradient from orange to red was looking pretty nice, but overall it still looks pretty flat. All I can think of is boiling Tang. 






Another spritz of white over the bubbles, this time with smaller radii. 








Daemonic Yellow next over the white and orange, but stopping short of the red in some places, covering it in others. It's looking good and is pretty close, but not quite there yet. 








The last little touch was a gently bit of white right on the tops of the bubbles. Suddenly everything clicked! I'm very happy with it as a first attempt. Next up I intend do some drybrushing on the rocks to bring out some detail, hitting them with some dark wash and deepening the contrast between the lava-facing and opposite sides, and then maybe I'll be able to get back to the dragon. I'm getting tired of calling it "the dragon". He really needs a name. 


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Last update for at least a few days, I'm afraid, but I'm happy with the progress I've made over the past week. I didn't take pictures of each step here, but it consisted of some basic touch ups. 




I did some dry brushing of ash grey followed by a mix of oak brown and dragon red to amplify the OSL effect from the lava, then some deepening of darkness on the rocks with a selectively applied dark tone wash.




I'm particularly pleased with how well the dark wash worked on the rim of the base; going the whole way around, right up to but not over the dripping lava, really highlighted them and turned the overspray into a nice dull glow. (Still a little wet in one spot there, sorry.) 




I want to make the back face deeper and darker than the front, but I couldn't manage it with my wash and I don't want to straight up paint over what I've got. I think I need some more pigment, which has led me to place an order for something I've never touched before. It's time to start learning to use inks!




Looking back over this thread, I just realized that this bit of the project went from an errant thought to a tangible, halfway decent volcanic base, with a bunch of new techniques learned, in two weeks. If you're reading this, I appreciate you! Having somewhere to share and be excited about these things is a great motivator, and I'm making more progress lately than I have in quite a while. Next up: figuring out how to integrate a dragon that is currently lit from the entirely wrong direction. 

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Mini update today! My Vallejo ink set came in the mail, so I tried to make my black rocks as black as they could be, and I'm happy with the result. Most importantly it let me get a bit more contrast between the dark backsides of the rocks and the lava illuminated fronts. I don't know if it's a noticeable difference in the photos, but it kinda feels like comparing black screens on LED and OLED TVs. Just a little less...foggy, I guess? I dunno. Here's some pictures. 









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