As regular readers will recall, my favourite miniature of all time is this beast: the Great Spined Dragon by the incredibly talented Nick Bibby. Considering that the model is approaching 30 years of age makes it even more remarkable. No other sculptor has produced a better model, and as you will no doubt be aware, there are some truly incredible dragon models out there.
Now, I have written at length about the creation of the Spined Dragon before and that article can be found here for those of you who are interested in hearing more. Today, I want to talk about the painting of my dragon. a task that has taken up the majority of my painting time over the last few weeks.
Here is a shot I took of my original model after I purchased it last summer. I paid about £70 for him, though I had allowed for a top bid of £120. If you are interested in acquiring one of these models after reading this post, this really is a fair price range to work from. Mine was in poor condition. The front leg was snapped off, the back leg (which is a detachable piece) was badly twisted and many of the wing bones were seriously damaged. It was clear that the model would need serious repair work and restoration to ensure that it remained whole into the future.
The broken leg was an easy fix. Using a 1mm drill I added a steel pin to the stump and glued the piece back on. It was quite straight forwards really, especially when I stuck the main part of the body onto an oval base for additional support. The tail and head for attached in a similar way, though I used two part epoxy resin for extra strength here. My problems lay with the wings. After working on the model for a few hours the left wing became increasingly more fragile and in the end I decided to snap the piece into two pieces and do a full repair. Again, steel rod was inserted for about two centimetres into the stump and used to rebuild the wing and add strength. However, this still wasn't enough to produce sturdy wings.
I solved the problem by using very thin plasticard to build the membrane of the wings. I laid the damaged wings on the top of this and stuck the lead down using superglue. I then used green stuff to build up a strengthening layer over the top of the plasticard and around the edges of the wings. Serendipity came into play at this point, as my fingerprints helped add texture to the wings where previously it would have looked very flat and smooth.
With the model built, my young son (aged only three at the time) helped me undercoat the model in white in the back garden. He thoroughly enjoyed it and still talks about it now, but I began to feel a sense of trepidation at painting such an enormous model. My feelings were re-enforced when I tried to undercoat the thing (I originally chose red) and I found myself giving up shortly after! I packed the model away in my draw and worked on my Khorne Army.
And so the model sat there until recently. Having overcome my painting lethargy with some Slanneshi chaos warriors I felt ready to do something completely different. So I pulled out the Spined Dragon and got to work, this time with a green colour scheme. After about five weeks work, on and off, the dragon is pretty much complete and I worked on the finishing touches today.
What do you lot think of my efforts?
|Frontal View: I limited the colours I used for the body and was largely inspired by the 'look' of various crocodile species. I found that using plenty of natural world images I could bring out the realism in the sculpt.|
|Top View: The wings were painted with a mix of drybrushing, ink washes, fine point work and speckling. I was trying to capture an aged look to the wings.|
|Back View: The back of the dragon saw the closest application of the crocodile colour scheme. This is most noticeable in the black stripes that run across the back of the model.|
|Back View Two: I used colour harmony between the yellow underbelly and the green skin/scales. I found that this helped bring the two colours together in a more satisfying way.|
Well, with such a huge beast finished I am now looking around for another 'big 'un' to work on. This is most likely to be my Marauder Giant, which I also started work on last summer but gave up on. I feel a lot more confident about handling bigger miniatures now and feel like I can do the classic model justice.
As always, please feel free to comment on my restoration and paintjob.