The Arcane Dragonry

21st November 2017

eleven eleven

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?

 

11th November 2017

Zappityzap

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 🙂

24th September 2017

Ysera the Dreamer

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!

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There will be another update soon. Stay tuned!