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FirstLevelFighter

Ma'al Drakar...and so it begins

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Hello, all!


I'm planning to paint Ma'al Drakar as Dungeons & Dragons' Dark Lady, Tiamat.

 

She's going to be, by far, my biggest painting project. Before I start painting, I'm planning some conversions to make her look more like D&D's Chromatic Dragon.

 

I'd love to get any advice or tips that anyone would like to share about painting large models, or any of the other parts of the process. I'll share my plans, and try to keep up a WIP thread about this grand adventure.

 

My first step is going to be pretty drastic, so if anyone wants to jump in with advice, please do.

 

I have WotC's Gargantuan Black Dragon. The forward-sweeping horns are so iconic, my Tiamat's black dragon head (Ma'al's lower right head) should have horns like that. The Gargantuan Black's a perfect scale to use for Tiamat's horns. I'm actually planning to carefully cut the horns off the black dragon, make a 2-part mold, cast a set of horns for Tiamat, and reattach the horns back on the black dragon.

 

Am I out of my mind? Does any one see potential problems with this plan, other than the usual challenges of casting minis, etc?

 

Thanks in advance for any advice, feedback, and encouragement! 

Edited by FirstLevelFighter
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I don't know about the casting, but when I painted my maal I really struggled with  paint rubbing off as I worked on it. My advice would be to wear gloves while handling the model (especially painted areas) and make a soft place to store the pieces when you're not painting them. Something like a pillow would do well. 

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You can always seal with Reaper Brush on Sealer when you finished some parts.

That will also protect better.

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I had to start wearing gloves when I was working on T'Raukzul.  Also got a large lint-free cloth which I balled up to have the model rest on.  In hindsight, I also should not have attached the wings before painting because wow did they get in the way and add weight to the model.  

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Cutting off parts, casting copies and reattaching the originals is possible. 

How well it goes depends on size, casting materials and so on.     

Practice a lot first.   

 

It may also be possible to sculpt a pair of horns, and then you won't have to mutilate the Black Dragon.

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Never painted Ma'al, but given his size and people commenting on paint rubbing off, I would suggest pulling out a trick that I saw Laszlo Jakusovszky use to paint a large metal (i.e. heavy) dragon (sadly, his Hot Lead website seems to have vanished, so I can't link to it).

  1. He attached the feet of the model to a board as a temporary base to paint.
  2. He then drilled a hole into the board that fit the screw attachment of a normal camera tripod (not the kind for webcams)
  3. Mounted the dragon and board onto the camera tripod, so he could use the handle on the tripod to maneuver the dragon without touching it. He probably got a wingnut/washer to secure the board to the tripod, so it could be removed when he wasn't painting.
  4. Once done, he removed it from the board and mounted it onto its permanent base.

Took the strain off his arm as the dragon was metal, and also allowed him to get to all the areas he needed to paint. Without having to touch the paint.

 

A question for those of you who had the paint come off: did you prime Ma'al, either with a brush-on or brown liner, or just go straight to painting? Curious if Ma'al is the kind of Bones who would definitely benefit from a true surface primer first.

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1 hour ago, ManvsMini said:

Question for those of you who had the paint come off: did you prime Ma'al, either with a brush-on or brown liner, or just go straight to painting? Curious if Ma'al is the kind of Bones who would definitely benefit from a true surface primer first.

 

I primed with Reaper's brush on primer. In hindsight I think I might have done a bit better with stynylrez or brown liner, but I think the majority of the issue was just how much I was handling the thing. I usually use a hobby holder to avoid that issue on smaller figures, so next time I paint something big, I'm going to have to try your tip for the painting stand!

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On 1/12/2020 at 10:06 PM, Fire_Eyes said:

I don't know about the casting, but when I painted my maal I really struggled with  paint rubbing off as I worked on it. My advice would be to wear gloves while handling the model (especially painted areas) and make a soft place to store the pieces when you're not painting them. Something like a pillow would do well. 

 

Also put it on plastic instead of fabric. Fabric and paper and foam can rub at paint, unlike a ziplock baggie.

I'd also shove a pin in the connecting point of each part, then the pin into a handle like a cork. You can yank the pin out later if it isn't lined up. Gloves help, but I also like just avoiding touching the figure in general.

 

On 1/14/2020 at 1:16 AM, Gadgetman! said:

Cutting off parts, casting copies and reattaching the originals is possible. 

How well it goes depends on size, casting materials and so on.     

Practice a lot first.   

 

It may also be possible to sculpt a pair of horns, and then you won't have to mutilate the Black Dragon.

 

I'd go with that route before trying to cast a copy, personally.

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Thanks for all the advice, so far.

 

I've backed away from the ledge concerning chopping up my black dragon and casting its horns. It's a cool dragon and I'd hate to ruin it. I've never cast anything before and the price of a starter set of two-part rubber mold and plastic casting material is almost as much as the black dragon would cost to replace. The horns will serve me well right where they are as reference material.

 

In addition to the black dragon horns, I'm going to sculpt the big nasal horn on the blue head (Ma'al's upper left,) build out some ear frills and texture the horns on the red head (topmost, central,) and patch up her wings. I'll do it all with green stuff.

 

I'm working on some sketches to plan the sculpting before I dive in.

For variety, I'm going to add a couple horn rings and maybe one other bit of jewelry to the green head using some bits from my bits box.

 

I'll definitely make a place to lay her down before I get started, too, and wear gloves, or at least one on my left hand for holding her. I'm planning to do a partial assembly and use her base for support as often as possible when I'm not handling her.

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For future reference you may want to look at two products...

 

Composimold is a reusable moldmaking material you heat in the microwave, then pour into a form of some sort, an stick the item to be cast into the cooling liquid. Pretty easy to get into, and when done right makes for pretty good casts. 

You may need to cut open the mold to remove the original, though.

 

Bluestuff (brand name from GeenStuffWorld, also available from other sources with more generic names. I think Micro_Mark has one version) is a soft rubbery compound you heat in hot water until becomes formable. pack it around what's to be cast. If you need both sides, make taps or holes in the first part of the mold, and wait until it has cooled, then heat a second piece and press down on top so that it fits the holes and taps. Because this gets pretty firm, it can be used for casting with materials such as GreenStuff if you're careful. 

This can also be reused.

 

 

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