Dragon Fight

January 1, 2009

Caves > DeepGroover's Entry Hall > previous > Dragon > next

Click to enlarge.

The artist's discussion of acquiring and building the dragon figure is below the photos.

Full dragon from the right

Full model from the right

Bowman detail


Dec. 25, 2008:
A friend/co-worker heard me say several months ago that I'd not had much experience at doing fantasy figures. He surprised me by giving me a dragon. I thought he wanted me to build it for him, but he told me it was a gift. Needless to say I was stunned. The dragon is by a war game brand named RAFM. Have you heard of them? The box claims the scale to be 25mm, which corresponds to 1/72 scale. Upon first inspection it looked....well....rough. I must confess the quality seemed lacking, with very poor fit and large gaps needing to be filled. I wasn't sure I'd ever build it, but I felt obligated.
Fast forward to present day. The dragon is done, and turned out pretty good. I chose to deviate from the red color of the box art for a more traditional green color. Besides, I wanted his open mouth to really stand out against his body, and being all red would've been less effective. It came in 8 pieces, and sure enough required heavy doses of putty to fill seams. However, thank goodness for my previous experience! I not only filled them well, but even enhanced his cheeks to look more realistic. His wings are so big I had to install a pin through his body, piercing both wings, to anchor them securely. It worked, and I hid the holes with putty.

The dragon was molded perched on a rocky surface, so I glued this to a piece of craft wood, and extended the edges with Sculptamold brand plaster. I added some small rocks to blend with the metal base, and painted everything when dry. Finally I added some scenic grass and little shrubs for effect. Now for the kicker....

I chose 4 figures in 1/72 scale (technically Saxon warriors) to do battle with the dragon. One will be laying on his back, defending against the dragons bite. A second stands beside him with spear poised to thrust. A third will be in one claw of the dragon (effective AND humorous), and a fourth will be shooting arrows from behind.

I intend to take this piece to Lake Charles in late January to compete in the war game category of the contest. Once done I will thank my friend for his generosity by giving him the finished piece. There will be ample photos before then, so keep a watch.

I'm proud of how the dragon turned out, considering the sub-par quality of casting and fit. In the future I'll stick to items by Games Workshop....of whom I have several pieces already in mind. I enjoy the fantasy figure stuff.

Nice break from the historical.

Jan. 1, 2009:
Dad and I just finished taking a series of photos for my latest project. The centerpiece is the dragon, given to me by a co-worker because I told him I didn't have much experience with fantasy figures. At first I thought he wanted me to build it for him, but then he told me it was a gift. This was a company I'd never heard of before, and upon inspection of the parts I knew a challenge was coming.

For one thing, even though its metal, it wasn't like the metal I'd worked with so far. I don't mean it was better or worse...just different. The first real red flag was fit. There were poorly engineered joints, and I knew a lot of filling in would be required. Also, parts just didn't mate up very well, and I procrastinated over this for a few months. My friend would ask me once in a while if I'd built it, and I always had some excuse.

Finally, during my extended holiday break, I decided to do it. My predictions were correct...the initial fit and filling were the worst parts. Once I passed that hurdle, it went smoothly and became fun.
Those of you interested in build details will want to read this next section.

The dragon as mentioned above was the greatest task. It consisted of 8 pieces. Because of the shape, both as individual pieces and overall, I knew some reinforcement would be required. Turns out just a generous amount of superglue was enough for most joints, but the wings/arms are large and delicately positioned, so reinforcement was needed. I drilled a hole right through the body where the wings attached. I then drilled each arm, so the hole went all the way through. After checking for alignment, I snipped a thick paper clip, and ran it through the entire assembled area, again using superglue liberally. Once the whole dragon was assembled, I could apply the putty to large gaps, and tidy up small ones.

The only place I used putty other than to fill gaps was where the dragon's cheeks are. It didn't look good the way it was sculpted, so I enhanced that area with some putty. I'm sorry to say the effort is hard to see in the photos, but mostly because it was a subtle change.

The dragon is sculpted perched on a rocky base. I glued this to a piece of craft wood, and allowed it to dry a few days. Then, before any painting, I used a plaster-like product named Sculptamold to enhance the metal base and fill out the surface of the craft wood. I added small rocks to blend with the base. The next step was to paint the base, and stain the wood. I topped it all off with a mix of scenic grass and little shrubs.

Painting the dragon was an exercise in creativity, in more ways than one. I had already fixed it to the wooden base, so I had to hold the entire piece in my hand....suspended at weird angles sometimes....to paint it.
Thank goodness I have strong wrists. :-)
The box art called for the dragon to be red, but I didn't like that choice. I wanted mine to be more traditional, so I opted for a shade of green. In fact, I used a green/gray color usually reserved for WW2 German uniforms. It was a good choice, and allowed a lot of variation in shadows and highlights. I offset his belly with an off-white shade, and painted his nails and horns in a mix of beige and white, with brown oil paint shading. The mouth was fun, and I tried to make it look real by applying a coat of high gloss to simulate wetness.
Once the dragon was done to my satisfaction, it was time to add his opposition/prey.

I used figures by a company named Emhar, and they are technically Saxon Warriors. Their scale is 1/72, which corresponds to the 25mm scale of the dragon. (These two scales are considered the same in many circles.)
What's particularly neat about these little figures is the plastic they're made of. It can be bent to shape, even down to the littlest thing. This was important, as I reposed every one of them for my needs.
The fallen figure was originally running. I cut the base and reposed him to be lying on his back. I drilled a tiny inconspicuous hole in his back and mounted him on a toothpick for painting. I gave him the same treatment I reserve for larger figures, right down to the facial shading. The figures are about one inch tall.
The next one is positioned beside him, about to throw a spear. Only minor changed were made to this one.
For the figure in the dragons grasp, I reposed him extensively and removed his spear. The last figure actually got the most enhancement. The silly thick bowstring was cut off, and a very thin piece of wire was shaped instead.
I repositioned his arm to pull the string, and even curled his hand more to hold it. The arrow is an actual 1/2" tip of a stick pin. All of this makes the bowman the most modified of the figures.

That's all the details on creation of the piece. Despite my delay and apprehension about building it, the whole thing turned out to be both satisfying and fun. I plan to take this piece to Lake Charles, where it will join another piece to compete in a war game category.