Hi again. More about my commission for the Chromatic Dragon restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. I mentioned earlier that I intended to take some artistic license with the Tiamat dragon. But I have a real interest in satisfying the restaurant’s clientele, and of course the people who commissioned me to make this hydra. So I want it to look very familiar. That means I’m not going to totally fly by the seat of my pants. I want the project to have a familiar “feel”. I want the look of the project to stay true to the Tiamat in Dungeons and Dragons. So I looked at a lot of Tiamat art on the web for guidance. Some of the renditions I liked, many I didn’t. It just turns out that the renditions I liked the most are the ones created by The Wizards of the Coast for the official Dungeons and Dragons site. Below are two of the Tiamat dragon wallpapers you can get (for free) on their official site (http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/media-resources/wallpapers#submenu-title). This set of wallpapers is titled “Tyranny of Dragons -Set 3”. I looked on the site for any mention of the actual artist who painted these wallpapers but I couldn’t find any information. I would love to know who did the paintings. They are beautiful works of art. So beautiful that I’m taking my lead from these wallpapers for my sculptures. I will try to incorporate many of the features you see in these wallpaper into my trophies. Where it’s hard to see some of the details in the paintings, I will ad lib. Of course I can’t insert fire into the throat of the red dragon, but I wish I could. I’m sure some of you will think it is cheating or somehow copying the art. Maybe. I can tell you however that it also adds a layer of difficulty. I’ll be curious what you all think as this project progresses.
So I left off with a very large pile of pieces ready for paper mache. I always use cheap white flour and water for my paper mache paste. It has always worked well. But the climate in Seattle is very different than it is in Savannah. It’s much more humid there in the summer. I don’t want to take any chances with bugs (I’ve heard this can be a problem). For this project I decided to use Elmer’s glue instead of flour and water for the paper mache. I used the glue full strength. It’s a little stickier, but it works just as well as the flour and water. This is also a good substitute paste for people who have allergies to gluten or flour.
I always start my trophies with the jaws. After my paper mache dried I cut open each of the head-shaped pieces.
I pulled out the wads of paper that were inside (which I throw into a box to be re-mached later) leaving just the paper mache shells. I use these shells to make the jaws.
My first big decision had to do with the kinds of jaws I wanted for each dragon head. I use hot glue to add teeth to the mache shells when making jaws. As I mentioned before I think of the red dragon as being the most aggressive, the most wild. So I made a sort of wild, somewhat random tooth pattern in the jaws.
In contrast, I made a more evenly spaced tooth pattern for the white head. Overall, I think of the white dragon as the least wild (in appearance) of the five heads. I wanted the jaws to reflect that bias.
I decided that the green dragon should have longer, sharper teeth than his counterparts.
I gave the blue dragon a mouth that would befit a crocodile.
Finally, I thought the black dragon should look more gaunt, even skull-like. That is how he’s described in the literature, with deeply sunken eyes. I’m not sure exactly why I thought this pattern would work but thought fewer teeth, more clustered, would work well for the black head.
I also made similar, but yet distinctively different tongues for each dragon. More about these later.
I always cloth mache , and paint, all my jaws before assembly. It is just so much easier to do this before everything is put together. Trust me.
Here are all the cloth mached jaws (I know, “mached” is not really a word)(and the phrase “cloth mache” is downright silly. But that’s what dubbed it years ago, and it works. So there.)
Here are two sets of painted jaws, one before blackwashing, one after. This is one place where I inserted my own artistic license. The Tiamat dragon, as a hydra, is very distinctive. Considering that all of the heads are so different, I was looking for ways to pull them together. So I decided to paint all of the jaws and tongues the same colors. I also used the same color Fimo for all of the teeth. This consistency in the jaws will look good in the end. You’ll see.
Likewise, I made all of the horns out of the same color of Fimo. This is one of the horns I made for the black dragon. In the literature about the Tiamat, as well as the art, the black dragon is described as having very prominent, bull-like horns. Since it’s such a big part of his personality, the horns had to be special. I think these horns fit the bill. I’m very pleased with how they turned out.
Below are the sets of horns for each head. They are organized into piles below. In the front row, on the left is the set of horns for the black dragon. The red dragon’s horns are in the middle in the front, and the set for the green dragon are in front on the right. In the back on the left are the horns for the white dragon, and on the right are horns for the blue dragon.
I’ll leave you here. Next time I’ll start assembling each head.
Thank you for stopping by!