Some time ago someone requested a bit more detail when making horns for a trophy, especially big ones that are hard to make. Even though I explained myself as best as I could, I feel like a picture is really worth a thousand words. So I hope you find this post helpful.
To make Ysera’s horns, I was a bit tight on clay. It’s not that I was short on it, I just had enough and had to measure it properly. I also mixed a little bit of leftover glow-in-the-dark Fimo effect clay I had with the Fimo professional doll making clay. I never knew how strong that glow in the dark clay was! It has very little, but still glows quite a lot in the dark. Anyway, to start making the horns, I made some aluminium foil cores first, I measured the clay for each horn and split it into rolls. In the picture below you can see how much clay went into just one horn. When I’m making small horns, it’s easy to make them look nice even if they’re made out of thin layers, but this changed when you’ve got a big horn in your hands. So what I do is draw a line where the “back” of the horn is going to be. This way, I know exactly where to blend the ends together so the line won’t be too visible.
First, I wrap the aluminium foil in a layer and I work it until the surface is smooth (or smooth enough, anyway). For Ysera, I went with a layered clay type of horn. Let me tell you, a pasta roller machine saves you a lot of work here. Not only makes kneading easier on your hands/fingers, but with a bit of practice, you can make the perfect strips with the right thickness for things like this. I used an array of tools to get the horns looking nicely, including some silicon clay shapers to add some realistic ridges and imperfections. I also made the two holes necessary to “hang” the earrings from in the cheek bones. Something that I do that I find helps a lot, and is key to make the horns look natural, is so shape the base to match exactly the surface is going to be resting on. This way, when I add the skin layers, it looks like the bone/horn really is coming from underneath the skin.
I added a picture at the end for you to see the difference between a horn that’s been only baked, and one that’s been “aged” with bitumen of Judea. I really love that finish… don’t you?
Hi everyone! I’ve been working on Ysera, but haven’t posted anything, so I’ve got a lot to show you! So far I showed you the custom shield I made myself, teeth/accessory making a little else. Today I’m showing you the core pieces put together and the circuit/lights to illuminate the eyes and mouth.
To make the structure I shaped a bunch of newspaper together, taped it, and made a paper mache shell out of the pieces (one for the neck and one for the head). This time, I wrapped the pieces in cling film to make the separation easier (once dry, you make it hollow). It did help a lot, but was tricky at first! This part of the process was taken from Dan Reeder’s book “Paper mache dragons”, which I really recommend. There’s a lot more info and pictures onto how to do it, so pick it up if you’re interested!
For this project, I had to do things a bit differently though, since it would have cables and light bulbs inside. I taped the inside both the neck and head pieces with very thick duck tape so avoid light going through the skin or cracks, and covered the tape with a layer of paper mache so the cloth would later glue onto it. I also added a bit of onion paper behind the eyes to act as a diffuser, since the three light bulbs were too obvious looking from outside.
I used seven high quality and VERY high intensity LEDs with a wavelength of 490, which is very close to the cyan/greenish colour that Ysera emits. Each LED has a resistor attached to increase their life (otherwise they can burn out pretty quickly). They’re powered by two AA batteries that can be easily swapped in and out from the back of the shield. I also hacked an on/off switch in. Once the cable length and angles of the light were adjusted, everything was soldered in place and secured with industrial-quality hot glue that won’t melt with the heat. I made sure to insulate all of the circuit pretty well when gluing the parts together and everything went just fine. The lights work and it looks amazing! Hmmm, I should have taken a picture of that 🙂
Hi everyone. As I have pointed out a few times recently, I’ve been working on a new dragon and I must say I’m VERY excited about it. Some of you might know who it is I’m honouring by reading the title. For those who don’t know Ysera, she used to be the Queen of Dreams before her ever so tragic passing. Rest in peace, you’ll be forever in our hearts.
As you can see in the picture above, Ysera was known for having glowy cyan eyes. So what I’m doing with this project is install lights inside, so both the eyes and mouth illuminate. It will run on easily replaceable 2xAA batteries and will have an on/off switch. Cool, huh? Don’t worry, I will document all of this as I go for you to see.
I got myself some copper-coloured Fimo polymer clay and started making her jewelry. I made steel wire frames to go inside to both provide support and easier application later on (especially with the crescent crown, since it’s “floating”).
Once baked, I gave it a nice aging treatment with some bitumen of Judea. Looking good! I also included the eyes in the picture for you to see. I made them as I usually do, but leaving a large black rim around them.
Did you notice all of those teeth I baked along with the jewelry? Well, I tried using a new product for those as an experiment. Instead of glow in the dark Fimo, I used Fimo professional doll art (porcelain colour). It was tough to work with and a bit crumbly, so it made me wonder if they gave me an old block or if it’s always like that. Regardless, I made a big batch of teeth and baked it. I let everything cool down, and I checked to see how good or bad it was. I always have to be super extra careful while working on a dragon so I won’t break the fangs. They’re very strong, but if the tip gets caught anywhere and you pull, they can break quite easily, so this is something I normally struggle with. To my surprise however, this clay is EXTREMELY flexible, almost like rubber! You can bend as much as you want: it just won’t break, but not only that, it will go back to how it was before and not leave any marks whatsoever. It’s incredible! Totally worth the price in my opinion. Check out these pictures, I got proof!
There will be another update soon. Stay tuned!
Hi everyone! After a long summer break full of camping trips, I’m back with news! Evakyl’usk is finished now. He’s up for sale for £580.00 on Etsy, or £550.00 on my website (plus £30.98 shipping). I’m quite pleased with the paintjob, although (as usual), pictures are not that great. His dimensions are: 27cm (width) x 42cm (length) x 32cm (height) / 10.6″ (width) x 16.5″ (length) x 12.6″ (height), and he’s 1.6 kg / 3.5 lb. If you’ve got any questions, please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for the next post, where I’ll announce the dragon I’m working on now… she is very famous, but sadly, she passed away recently. Can you guess?? Hope you like it and feel free to comment!
Hi folks! Evakyl’usk is looking pretty good. I finished two days ago and now it’s only missing the paint. A friend of mine saw it and he told me it makes him want to paint it really badly. I can understand that. So I thought I’d give him a chance to find someone who would like to paint him. So during the next week or so, while I prepare things for the next one (which by the way, it’s going to be amazing, just you wait!), Evakyl will be for sale without a paint job for £490 (plus shipping). The shield is solid oak with a reddish varnish like the one I used for Odrajux; you can see it if you click here. So go ahead and contact me if you’re interested before it’s too late!
Anyway, I’m showing you today the last finishing touches I gave this dragon. Basically, the only things that were missing (aside from a few fixes here and there) were some scales in the top part of the neck and the horns, doing the forehead with clay and leveling the gap between the eyebrows and the horns. For the big scales, I just used DAS and basic tools. For the little horn scales I just used the same stuff I made the skin with: an extremely thin textile blend and PVA glue. I just cut it in different square sizes and placed them carefully. It was actually a bit tricky, I am pleased with the results though… it looks as if they sort of blend with the horns. The whole forehead/eyebrow situation was simple enough, but it made a big difference. Oh! and I also made the horns look a bit more realistic by giving them a super thinned coat of bitumen of Judea. The bitumen was actually absorbed by the fabric, so I had to paint it white so avoid problems later when painting it. Scroll down and judge for yourselves!
Cheeky! I discovered a trick to make some mache stuff not stick to things. Why would you want to do that, you ask? Well, I decided to do the mouth side membranes with this new material I spoke about a few posts ago, but the thing with that is… it’s very fragile. After some experiments I realised that it just breaks if you try to pull it loose after it’s dry. So what I did was put some masking tape where I wanted it to be loose, and it worked great. This way, I was able to paint inside of the cheeks without ruining the mouth (breaking fangs, painting things accidentaly…). Check out the pictures!
After the paint was dry, I glued both ends and it was done. The mouth is looking pretty good, don’t you agree? I don’t have pictures of this, but to give the face a bit of shape, I used an experimental mix of PVA glue, paper pulp, flour and gypsum. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t the best either… the “recipe” definitely needs some tweaking. I also made the horns with Fimo -as usual- and I shaped them in a way that would fit the piece perfectly. If you look at the pictures you will notice they just follow the lines of the “flesh”. Normally I glue the horns after I do the skin, but I decided to do the opposite this time because of how I made the horns “click in”. I thought it would look a lot more natural doing it this way. I hope I’m right!
Today I’m showing you in detail how I make the tongue of a trophy. I don’t think I will need to explain much, since all of the pictures are pretty self-explanatory. I always cut a bit of galvanised steel wire and cut it to shape. This helps me stick to the right size, and if I don’t do this, there’s a chance the tongue will be too big or too small. This is going to be a very fleshy tongue, so I made the chunky bit that goes underneath by wrapping a ball of newspaper in tape, and then wrap more newspaper all around the wire. Once this is done, I secure everything with tape before covering it all up with paper mache. Then, all is left is just to paint it and varnish it. I made a very elaborate post on how I paint tongues while making Odrajux. Click here if you’re interested in checking that out.
I hope that helped. Now moving onto the eyes! After some testing, I found a little trick that will help if you paint or print eyes and then glue that to cabochons. The problem with this is that it’s very easy to ruin them due to all of the moisture that filters in while applying glue or paint. BUT! I found this material I bought ages ago and barely used and did some experiments. It’s Mod Podge’s Dimensional Magic. It’s a very runny white fluid that dries clear and keeps a bit of volume. So what I did was lie the paper eyes on top of a single laminating sheet, then apply the Dimensional Magic to the back of the cabochon, and then press it down on each eye. It worked like a charm! Also, I don’t know if it helped much, but I did give the black areas a layer of acrylic paint so it would be extra-dark. So maybe that helped the ink stay in place? I’m not sure. Anyway! I’m pretty happy with the results. I will publish another update soon. Working with clay, paper pulp and glue is a nightmare when it’s this hot. What a hellish week!
Hi hi, hello! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? As you may have read, my computer broke down fatally very unexpectedly. It’s amazing the amount of attachment one slowly develops around bits of inanimate materials put together if we use them often. Luckily, what broke down didn’t affect the hard drives, so I didn’t lose anything. And also, it was the perfect excuse to upgrade, so I got myself a brand new shiny piece of that human technology that I so dearly missed having. A bit fancy, but not super fancy. It looks pretty cool though, judge for yourselves:
Now, regarding dragons… I’ve made quite a bit of progress on the new one, so expect some more new posts soon! Now, let me tell you a bit about the dragon I’m making now. His name is Evakyl’usk, or Evak for short. He was a friend, a loved character among us. He was quite the chatty fellow, always cheerful, ever so wise and kind, always willing to listen and brighten up your spirits. He… changed though. Over the years he became colder and distant, and his once bright orange skin started to turn darker. He once told me when I visited him that he was struggling with some inner turmoil and that he felt he was changing. I offered to help by consulting higher powers or magic, but soon after that he announced he was leaving… and so he flew away to never come back. It’s been many a century now, and I don’t even know if he’s still alive, but I still remember him fondly, and so I decided to make a sculpture of his head.
I started by making paper mache balls, as usual, and hollowing them afterwards. This time, instead of using both jaw pieces as they were, I cut a bit off, because paper mache is not as flexible as Evakul’s jaws and I wanted to achieve a dramatic angle, hah. In the picture below, you can see the sketch I made of the head before I began working on it.
First, I cut some normal cotton fabric to size and dipped it in PVA glue. This makes a nice “mouth skin”. This time I didn’t have to make new teeth, since I made so many in the last batch. But if you didn’t know, I make them with Fimo (the kind of polymer clay you need to bake). As usual, I just hot-glued them to the jaws and wrapped them in PVA fabric. With a twist this time, though! I found this new material which is a very lightly woven blend of cotton and rayon fibers which is very tricky to work with, but it looks great and is a lot less temperamental than normal cloth when trying to make it stay in place. Also it’s so thin that overlapping layers are almost invisible to the eye! Check it out:
Now, I know I always talk about how great of a thing bitumen of Judea is, but apparently the vast majority of people doesn’t even know what it is, so let me enlighten you. Bitumen of Judea is a liquid consisting of basically a bit of oil and a chemical component found in asphalt that had a very deep and rich dark brown colour. It is mostly used for wood staining and other wood treatments, but I love using it on anything that will take it. I don’t think I’ve ever shown you exactly what it looks like when used, so I put together both jaws after coating the teeth of one of them with bitumen of Judea, so you can see the before and after. Amazing, isn’t it? It makes those fangs look a lot more natural, more like real bone.
Now, let me wrap up by saying that if you’re interested in making one of these dragon trophies of your own, I recommend Dan Reeder’s “Paper Mache Dragons” book -which I own- where he explains his technique step by step with pictures. I’ve taken inspiration from there to make most of the initial steps to put these trophies together. Anyway, that’s all for now. As I said, I’ll be posting again very soon. I hope you’re enjoying a warm week of spring wherever you are. Bye bye for now!
I promised yesterday to post pictures of finished Odrajux… and I’m delivering! I experimented a bit with things here and there while making him, so it was quite fun. I wholeheartedly hope you like it as much as I do and spread the word so he can find a home! His measurements are 29cm wide, 35cm high and 48cm long, and he weighs 1.3kg. He is now for sale for £520 (£550 on Etsy). Shipping cost to mainland UK is £30.98 with insurance covering up to £100. If you want to extend that to a full cover, it would be an extra £19.80. Contact me for options to ship outside of the UK.
Thank you all for the support and have a fantastic day!
Hello humans! Odrajux is finished! In this post I’ll just quickly show you the process of painting him, but I’ll be taking proper pictures soon to show you. Odrajux has been the dragon that’s taken me the longest time to paint so far. I tried a different approach: instead of painting with “bright” colours and then black-washing to add depth, this time I went for a very dark base and slowly added layers of lighter tones until it was just right. This is true for the red/brown areas of the dragon though. I still black-washed the neck plates and chin.
So I decided to start with the lighter colours: white and ochres, and then gave the rest of the dragon an umber coat. It looked pretty good already! Once dry, I started giving it layers of plain red. Loads of layers. Even more than you think. But eventually, it became opaque enough to look red. Time consuming as it was, this actually gave the whole thing a lot of depth. I also blended in a tiny bit of blue and sienna here and there to add to the richness. Once the colours were pretty solid (that would be the last picture), I proceeded to black wash the lower neck, and then I worked on dry-brushing all of the details, highlights and shadows. Again, this took quite a bit of time due to drying times (using that much retarding medium didn’t help!), but it looked great in the end. Also, I used significantly more paint than usual, but it looks pretty nice. I’m not showing any pictures of the finished thing on this post, but I will soon! Stay tuned!