Hi folks! I hope you’re all doing great. Before I show you all of the progress on Odrajux, I’d like to take a moment to thank to all of you who follow me for linking and sharing the love. I’ve noticed an exponential boom in followers in these last two weeks and it’s both humbling and overwhelming to see that so many people are interested in what I do. So thank you all so much from the bottom of my scaly heart!
Anyway! These last couple of days I’ve pretty much left Odrajux ready for his paintjob.The first thing I did was his ear membranes. I had already glued the supports, so all there was left to do was cut some fabric to size and fix it in place. I cut big pieces, dipped them in PVA glue and placed them roughly where they should be. I marked the areas where the supports were, and cut the fabric while lying flat on the table. Sometimes cutting sharp angles with proper scissors it’s just impossible when you’re limited by hard edges like in this case. This made the cutting a lot easier! Once the ears were done, I covered some other areas with cloth, and proceeded to grab the clay.
So now that the cloth was done, the fun part began! The clay I used for this was some old-school white Das. This was the first clay I ever used, about two decades ago, so it’s the kind of clay I’m most comfortable with. The good thing is that it’s air-dry, so you don’t have to bake it or anything. The cons are that even though it doesn’t shrink much, it does tend to crack. And also it can dry up quite quickly if you’re not careful (especially where it’s thinnest). I avoid that by spraying water every now and then on it, and you can refill the cracks later.
I started working from the mouth towards the shield, so the first thing I did was the chin. I wrapped the clay around the aluminium structure and shaped it. I did the same for the lower lip, but I added little holes and small nostrils. Also, I modified the length of the lips by adding “lip fangs”: small triangular bits that you’ll recognise to be very dragon-like as soon as you see them. I protected the teeth with some acetate and cling film to avoid messing them up… and then I did the rest of the face (jaws, cheeks and brows). Scroll down to see the results.
Now, the cheekbones turned out to be a bit smaller than I anticipated. I had planned on adding loads of small Fimo horns, but the area was too small and I decided to make thorny scales with Das instead. I put some in the jaws and around the eyes, and added spikes of different sizes all along the top: from the nose to the shield, and left it to dry overnight. Luckily, the Scottish damp and cold climate made it dry quite slowly, so the cracks were few and minimal and it took literally two minutes to fix. The final touch was adding a bit of paper mache to simulate eyebrow wrinkles and also to make the nostrils a bit larger. I think he looks a bit more menacing that way! What do you think?
Whew! Anachromie is finished! I’m posting the final pictures of her below and she’s up for sale in the gallery now! Don’t worry, you didn’t miss much since the last post. The only thing left to do was grooming the beard, nothing special. I’m no hairdresser, so I just followed some simple tutorials on how to reduce hair volume and that’s it. Now, taking the final pictures and fixing them took me almost two full days of work. If you’re a photographer, you will know how tough it can be to photograph something that’s shiny AND metallic. Even the best shots had to be edited and “frankensteined” together so you could appreciate all details without weird glares and burns. But anyway, it’s done! Anachromie proved to be quite an interesting experience. I experimented with quite a few things: a whole lot of air-dry clay mixes, silicon moulds, the dewlap, adding hair… I learned a lot and it was lots of fun. For those of you who follow me, I hope you’re pleased with the result too, and please spread the word! I want her to go to a good home. Thank you all, I’ll soon tell you about the other project I’m working on now.
Bitumen of Judea. Oh, how I love the stuff. It smells lovely and gives a rich brown wash to things that you can’t just compare to anything else. It’s oil-based, so normally you have a reasonable amount of time to wipe it off until it looks nice. It’s a bit trickier when it’s a large piece like these dragon heads I make though. I ran into some trouble on one of the sides and I had to redo it. Being oil-based, I had to wait for about two days for it to proceed. It normally takes less time, but it’s winter and Anachromie sits on a cold and non-ventilated room. Once it looked good enough and it was perfectly dry, I gave her some nice highlights by dry-brushing, and finally, gave it a matt coat of varnish. I really like how the black wash made it look so “antique”, almost vintage. It’s quite appropriate too, since bronze dragons are the keepers of the sands of time!
Anyway, now everything’s all dried up and ready for the ultimate beard grooming session! I’ll leave you with some pictures of our favourite bearded lady while I was applying the black wash and the finished result. Regrettably though, it took a lot of effort to take a decent picture of her now. The metallic paint reflects a lot of light, and the varnish doesn’t help. I had to tweak the contrast so you could appreciate it without any weird glares and burns, and because of this, it looks a bit flat and plain. Hopefully it won’t be too hard to take the perfect final pictures after the beard is ready.
THE BEARD IS DONE! My brain started to hurt from thinking about how to proceed with the beard for so long. I really couldn’t find a solution that would work and look good at the same time. But I did in the end and I bring you proof! Prepare yourself, because this is a picture-heavy post. But before showing you the beard, here you have a picture of Anachromie with another layer of paint. It’s still not finished and it needs black washing, but that will have to wait til tomorrow.
So, remember how I prepared the white wig? You can find it on this post if you missed it. What I did was cut off half of the seam line. I could do this safely only because I literally bathed the whole seam on PVA glue, otherwise the hairs would just fall off. I did this so the beard would look as natural as possible, with a smooth and seamless transition between skin/scales and beard. Tough stuff though.
Once the hot glue gun was good to go, I calculated where the middle point of the beard would be, then I started gluing the hair strands to the chin in a spiral.
I put extra glue in the crevices of the chin so it would be a bit smoother. The trick is to dip your finger in cold water, and while the glue is still hot, press it down and shape it to your convenience. I kept on gluing hair in a spiral until I was done. I used a length of about 70cm in total (not the length of the hair itself, I mean the strips).
As you can see above, the result was a very nice full beard. But now I had to deal with that unsightly hot glue. And of course, you can’t just paint it because acrylics don’t stick to it that well and it looks awful in any case. I needed something that would blend into both the skin/scales AND the beard. So I decided to experiment with something quite unconventional that I had never used on any piece of art: surgical tape! This stuff. In case you’ve never heard of it, it’s basically a very thin paper-like tape that’s very flexible, porous and you just put on your skin when you want to avoid an infection on a wound. The thing with this tape is that the glue is extremely sticky and sort of waterproof (it doesn’t fall off your skin even after a shower). And since it’s so thin and paper-like, I thought it would be a good thing to use. After covering the seams and all of the hot glue, I added a few layers of tissue paper. I made it really damp to the point that it broke apart, and smudged it into the strands of beard hair.
It didn’t take too long to dry. I painted the whole thing ochre and then dry-brushed both skin and beard with raw umber until it looked natural. The transition doesn’t look as smooth as I would like (the tissue paper is a bit too wrinkly compared to the smoothness of the cotton fabric), but it’s acceptable. Now I just need to black wash it and it will be ready! I’d love to hear opinions on the beard. Find me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know, or just leave a comment of course.