A Girl Obsessed with Dragons – A Miniature Painting Story – Part IV

When my sister Mary asked me to assist her in painting the Legendary Dragon from Mystic Games, I was pretty excited. I had only painted two other figures close to that size before, and of course, it being a dragon really was the icing on the cake!

Michael Crabtree

Guest Writer for MeepleGamers

Links to Catch Up

I’ll share a little about myself before diving into my contribution to this project. Full disclosure: I’ve never really been much of a gamer, but I am a huge dinosaur nut. I started collecting dinosaur figures several years ago, and soon discovered that many hobbyists repaint their figures. This was about the same time Mary got deeply involved in the realm of tabletop gaming and painting miniatures of her own. She introduced me to that aspect of the hobby, and now we have semi-monthly “paint nights.” I have even painted a few dragons of my own.

Painting dinosaurs is refreshingly subjective because no one has ever really seen a live one, so I can get pretty creative when it comes to applying colors & markings. Painting dragons takes this to a whole other level, because they are mythological creatures. Of course, in most cases, I still prefer to maintain a sense of realism with a dragon this detailed, and not get too whimsical. But unless I am referencing a specific dragon character’s color scheme (Ex: Smaug, Drogon,…Pete, etc.), the only limit to creativity is my imagination.

Detailing the Dragon

Mary had a basic color plan for this figure (goblin green), but beyond that, she wanted my take on adding those little details to make this dragon pop! In nature, very few animals are just one solid color and the closer you look, the more variation & gradients you will see. So on the body of the dragon, I applied a technique that most painters are probably familiar with, which is dry-brushing. I tend to call it “reverse dry-brushing” because instead of trying to bring out the detail, I use a darker shade of the base color to simulate markings. This gives the dragon a more mottled “reptilian” texture. It also helps with creating gradients between different shades. You can see it really well on the neck, chest & wings once it was ink-washed, a stage that will be featured in Part V of this series.

I didn’t get too crazy with the mouth & jaws. It is true that some animals do possess wacky-colored mouths & tongues, but with a fantasy-based creature that is already audacious in size & design, I wanted to keep it a little real with natural tones of red, pink, and purple. In most cases, I always use a shade called “antique white” for animal teeth, because it has that nice, yellowish/off-white color (I mean, what animal has perfectly white chompers, right?). Speaking of the teeth, I noticed that they were rather blunt, almost resembling human teeth. Furthermore, there seemed to be a second row of them on both the upper and lower jaws. Weird!

The aqua-blue on the spines running down the back as well as the ones sticking out each side of the head needed a little…”flair,” so I tipped them off with a darker shade, creating a gradient. I also added some blue tips to the smaller spikes on the cheeks.

I love the way the eyes turned out. I based them on a reference photo Mary provided from another figure. As you can see, the color scheme there is a fiery red iris with a yellow pupil. Very fitting for a dragon, wouldn’t you say?

My Conclusions

All in all, I was very happy to be a part of this painting project. Seeing the finished figure really made it worth it, but don’t take my word for it. Stay tuned for the final article in this series where Mary describes the final stages of bringing this dragon to life. One could say it is…legendary!