Slayers of the Pastry Drake

datetime March 19, 2017 6:22 PM

Solid Foundations

I baked the models on September 6th, which you may recognize as “way the hell too close to October to still not be finished”. And at this point I still hadn’t started the scenic base that they would be mounted on, so I began a mad scramble to assemble the entire thing in a single weekend so that they could be shipped the following Monday morning.

Each of the two models was to receive its own small stone base, with the two shaped to interlock with each other. These small bases, in turn, would then slot into the top of a larger base.

I needed the small bases to guide the larger one, so those had to be built first. The first step was to create a spacer out of some spare cork, which I used to lift the two models up, providing space to sculpt the bases underneath.

The spacer was lined up with the bottom of Liz’ dress, which was all on a single ground plane. Jonathan’s two feet were at different heights, so I lined the spacer up with his back foot, intending to sculpt a larger rock under the front foot.

I use Fimo to sculpt my actual miniatures, but I also own a fair amount of other brands of clay, mostly left over from various experiments. The base ended up being sculpted out of Sculpy, which is similar to Fimo, except that it comes pre-mixed with softener, and is naturally a bit softer and waxier than Fimo. I’m not a big fan of Sculpy’s consitency for working on models, but it does the job pretty well for basing, so I decided to use up all the Sculpy I had left on this project.

These rock bases were quite easy to build– I jammed wads of Sculpy beneath their feet, squished the wads flat, then carves them into separate rocks with a metal hoe tool. The edges were then cleaned up with clayshapers, as usual.

I made sure that the contours of the bases interlocked nicely together; I would later build similar interlocks with the stones on the larger platform around them.

Random clean-up: I noticed here that Jonathan’s wrist had cracked when I baked it. And the crack had actually pushed the hand outward slightly, lengthening the arm. This means the putty was definitely still soft when I baked it, which means this was my fault again.

Sigh. ~_~

Repairing it wasn’t just a matter of filling with putty, as the arm was actually now slightly too long– I had to pull the hand off, scrape out some of the expanded putty, and then drop the hand down into its original position.

Alrighty, back to the bases. I baked the two models side-by-side so that any warping in the clay would at least match on both sides; when they were hardened, I cut them apart with a knife and popped them off the corks that they had stood on for all of their short lives.

The bottoms of the bases looked pretty rough from sitting on bumpy cork, and needed to be filled in.

Slightly better. Still ugly, but at least they stand flat now. 🙂

With the models’ bases in place, I could now start the larger scenic base. This would be built on top of a much larger cork (a big ol’ jug stopper); to let me work without risking the models, I just stood them on top of it and traced out the shape and position of their bases with a pen.

This helped me figure out where I needed to leave the base flat, and where I could cut chunks of the cork away.

It’s useful at this point to recall the layout of the base from my concept sketch:

The tip of the tail under Liz’ foot will lead to the rest of the tail wrapping around the stone they’re standing on, eventually disappearing into a small cave just in front of them.

The dark section on the front here is where the cave will be placed; I cut out as much cork as I could in front of Jonathan’s base, while leaving some in front of Elizabeth’s base to support the cave.

Laying clay over cork requires the same adhesive layer as when you’re building on top of wires, though given the much larger area, it isn’t strictly necessary for the putty to cover the entire surface. I generally just apply putty snakes all around the base to ensure that there’s at least SOME putty holding the other layers together in every region.

Sculpy then goes on top in huge slabs.

The slabs were then smoothed together. This gave me an adequate base to build around, but I didn’t like the cylindrical shape– the base definitely needed to be widened.

More slabs, more smoothing, yadda yadda yadda. You guys know the process by now. 😛

Once the basic masses were in place, I started carving them into individual stones to match the models’ bases.

I’m glad that this was all being done in a cartoony style, as sculpting realistic stone over this much surface area would take a LOT of work. >_<

To make the dragon’s tail fluidly drape around the pedestal and disappear under the rocks, I needed to create a spiraling ramp for it to sit on.

This required me to add a LOT of additional Sculpy. It’s a good thing I was trying to use it all up, because I’m pretty sure I succeeded. 😛

To make the dragon’s tail, I simply made a huge wad of clay and rolled it into a cone.

I then draped it around the ramp I’d built, from the back of Liz’ base to the cave in the front. This immediately revealed that the ramp wasn’t quite smooth enough, and needed a small patch on the left side.

I corrected this by expanding one of the larger stones to support the tail.

I then added additional stones piled up around the mouth of the cave.

I made sure to keep all of the stones spiralling in the same direction to create a consistent visual flow.

This finally seemed to be all of the stones I needed, so I set about cleaning them all up with my biggest clayshaper. From the timestamps on these photos, it looks like it took about eight hours.


In the end, though, it looked pretty badass. 🙂

Alrighty, almost done! I had a few hours left before I had to go to bed and call the project finished, so I spent them detailing the dragon’s tail. First up, I etched a shallow line into the entire length of the tail, to represent the division between its belly and back.

I then pressed this line in slightly and rounded the seam.

I then created further divisions all along the belly to help communicate that it was, in fact, a dragon’s tail, and not a big ol’ hentai tentacle. 😛

The corners of these belly sections were then rounded to complete the “cartoon dragon” look.

The last thing I wanted to add to the tail was a row of spikes. I started by cutting off different-sized chunks of Fimo (I had successfully used up all the Sculpy 😛 ) and rolling them into rough cones with my fingers.

I then dropped these onto the back of the tail and smoothed them into place.

They started as a full double-row, eventually petering out into a staggered single row. No particular reason– I just liked the way it looked. 🙂

I called it complete at 1am and popped it into the oven.

Once it was hardened, I cut it off the tin lid it had been build on with a knife– quite challenging, actually, as the sticky Sculpy had formed a really tight bond with the slightly rough metal and really didn’t want to let go. @_@

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was it. 🙂

It took way longer than I intended, which significantly inconvenienced the client (not that she ever complained, mind you), and I will never stop feeling terrible about that.

However, taking the work on its own, outside the context of its delivery schedule, it’s one of the nicer pieces I’ve ever made, and certainly one of the most elaborate.

So I really love the final product, but looking at it makes me sad.

Emotions are complicated, you guys. ;_;

Next: Lots of pictures

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