Brace yourselves because not only the last season of Game of Thrones is coming this April, Easter is coming, too – YAY! Instead of some boring egg colouring I’d thought I go for the real deal and make some authentic dragoneggs. So here is how to become a Mother of Dragons:
What you need
- Loads of black coffee (most important)
- Styrofoam eggs (height around 21 cm)
- Airdrying clay
Do yourself a favour and treat yourself with a high quality clay for professional use. The one I used was even cheaper than the really poor quality Fimo clay I used before and so much easier and nicer to work with
- Carving tools for shaping the clay
- Cookie cutter for reproducing scales of same size and shape
(I used a heart-shaped one)
- Rolling pin
- A small bowl of water for your hands and to keep the clay moist
- Cloth also for your hands, because it’s going to be messy 🙂
- A mug to place the egg in a safe position while you’re not working on it
- Acrylic paint in various colours
Now let’s see how to get from left to right 🙂
The Sculpting Part
As the scales are layered on top of each other we have to start at the bottom of the egg. Begin by forming a ball of clay and use the rolling pin to make a nice flat pancake of clay from the ball. You don’t want to make this too perfect in shape because we are making an organic looking thing here and any kind of imperfections are great to achieve a realistic look. Place your clay pancake onto the bottom of the egg (roughly a third of the whole egg should be covered now) and carefully press it onto the surface so that it connects neatly to the shape of the egg.
The bottom of the dragonegg reminds me of the lunar surface. I used carving tools to add some molds and ridges into the clay. Working on the surface and creating some dents will also help the clay to get a better connection to the styrofoam. When you are working with airdrying clay it’s always good to have some water ready so that you can moisturise the clay. That will also prevent the clay from building cracks while drying. Although some cracks could actually be pretty cool here.
I also rubbed my wet fingers gently over the surface after creating the little imperfections to make the ridges and dents look more worn down and to remove some of the hard edges. Remember these eggs are a thousand years old and probably had a hard time rolling around and have been exposed to the forces of nature for ages.
I also found it useful to clean my hands, the tools and the surface I was working on from time to time. The remains of drying clay on your hands and your tools can make working with fresh clay a bit… let’s say unnerving.
Now that we have finished the moony part of our dragonegg, we are ready to apply the scales. I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make the scales. The first row of scales is a bit tricky. As the bottom cover of clay does not have a straight line, the first row of scales will have gaps which are filled with the moony surface. (See in picture 3 what I mean)
Connect the scales with the Styrofoam by gently brushing them down with a carving tool. This will also create some really nice ridges. After using the tools I again gently used a wet fingertip to smoothen the surface of the scales. Proceed like this with every scale you apply.
It’s absolutely okay to have a bit of the styrofoam shine through on top where the scales connect. These spots will be covered by the tip of the next row of scales.
The eggs look like they once had been covered in scales completely but after years of rolling around in a cave the scales of the bottom have been chipped off. To achieve this look I worked with the carving tool from the beginning again and gave the tips of the scales some dents to get a nice organic transition from eggshell to scales.
After you have finished the first row place the scales for the second round in between the scales of the first round letting the tip of the scale overlap a little. For the third row proceed in the same manner, only making sure that the tip of each new scale aligns with the tip of the scale of the first round.
Once you reach the top of the egg you will see that the scales will squeeze up more and more. I found it best to cut them in a more rectangular shape in advance before placing them. Otherwise you will have a lot of surplus material reaching the top making your egg much thicker and heavier than you want it to be be. Sooner or later you will also have to skip every other scale to decrease the number of scales. Sorry for the poor lighting in the photos, it got pretty late.
You will realise that applying and sculpting the scales is pretty time consuming. Also you will have to let your work rest a bit and dry, so that you won’t spoil any previous sculpting. When it gets difficult to handle the egg, i.e. you can’t find a dry space to hold it safely, give it some time and proceed when the clay is dry enough. I did the first half on one day and then the other the next day. The finished dragon egg will take roughly 24 hours to dry before you can apply the paint.
The Paint Job
For the fun part we are basically using two techniques, because just applying paint is not really a technique, or is it? 😀 What you basically will do is just commonly apply colour, watering down colour and then brush it off and drybrushing.
Exemplary I show you how I did the painting for Rhaegal’s dragonegg. First thing you do is simply coating the bottom in a vivid yellow and the upper half in green. When you reach the yellow part with your green colour brush down the green with only a small amount of paint on the brush, while the yellow paint is still a bit wet. This will give you a nice colour gradient from green to yellow.
Right now the egg looks all wrong and has a comicbook style. But don’t panic, this will change. We will weather the look down and make it look organic.
Allow the colour to dry before you go on. Then use light brown and dark brown by watering it down (i.e. applying it with a lot of water) onto the yellow part of the egg. Then use a piece of paper towel and gently rub off the colour in one direction. This will take away most of the colour you previously applied but leave colour in all the indentations.
Now we also wanna darken the top of the egg. Use a darker green and apply it with only a little water from the top down to a about one fourth to third of the egg. Then again use a paper towel and gently use it to brush down from the top to the middle of the egg. This will remove a bit of the colour from the top and create a nice transition from dark to lighter green but also leave some lighter spots between the scales on top.
Play around with different hues of colour to get a look you like. As a finish I drybrushed on some golden colour. For drybrushing dip your brush into water, tap your brush into paint and then brush off the paint on a dry paper towel until you leave no more colour on the paper. Believe me, there will still be colour in your brush and you can use this remaining paint to dry brush some really effective highlights onto the elevated parts of the surface.
The Seven Gods bless and Happy Easter, my friend!