Brightwing the Faerie Dragon

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - student project

Hello! I've been a long time fan of Emily's work so I'm excited that this class is finally out! I wanted to start a brand new sculpture to go along with it and while I know it is advisable to create our own creatures, I chose a piece of fan art so that I could focus on some new techniques.

I've been playing a lot of the Technical Alpha test for Blizzard's upcoming Heroes of the Storm and I am in love with the character Brightwing. She is a faerie dragon from Blizzard's Warcraft universe and I figured she'd be perfect to practice wings and a pose balanced on a tail (similar to Emily's gryphon).

Here is a piece of Blizzard's art representing the character:

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 1 - student project

Day 1:

Because I have access to the game, I was able to go to her character screen and get a few screenshots of her in various poses. I took a side profile screenshot and drew out my armature structure. I built it similar to the gryphon tutorial (including the Apoxie Sculpt).

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 2 - student project

Day 2:

After the Apoxie Sculpt cured, I started blocking out my sculpture. I had already learned at this point that if I were to redo the sculpture, I would put the wings on later. Trying to work around them is a bit of a hassle, so much so that I snapped my wire while it was just sitting in the base from constantly bending her since I couldn't hold her with the wings. Next time I'll keep twisting it to the end and drill a bigger hole. For now, she's hot glued on.

I also changed the pose as I worked. I originally had her flying in more of an angle in the photo above. As I worked, I realized I wanted to see more of her front profile and belly. The wings also have a lot of detail that I wanted to be able to see head on so I changed the wings so that they were vertical rather than angled.

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 3 - student project

Day 3:

I was home sick so I made a ton of progress! I smoothed out most of the block shapes and started building muscles and definition. I've worked with pre-baked claws before, so I jumped right to adding the paws and claws. I also added her belly scales and began refining the wings. The wings still need the most work - the tips need to be more pointy and the tops of the wings need to have a wing finger added.

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 4 - student project

Day 4:

I didn't really get a chance to work on her much over the weekend, but I did gut out the clay that connected the wings to the body and reconstructed them with Apoxie Sculpt underneath, following Emily's recommendation. They're much studier now. I also re-posed her so that she is more dynamic, something that was lost as more clay was added.

I restructured her head completely. When I repositioned her head so that it wasn't lined up with her stomach, I distorted it quite a bit, but this allowed me to build it more true to her design. I also popped in pre-baked eyeballs.

The next thing I want to work on are the wing tips. The clay on the wings is mostly placeholder for now and an eye sore compared to the rest of the project. :)

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 5 - student project

Weekend of 8/11 & 8/12:

It's been a long time since I've worked on this project! She'd been eyeballing me from the corner of my craft room and I just didn't have the time for her like she deserved. I finally settled down and spent most of my weekend getting her ready to paint.

Before this past weekend, I had re-engineered her mount to the base. Previously, I had her hot glued because my wire snapped during the sculpting process. I created a new, longer wire and used Apoxie Sculpt to secure it.

My first challenge over the weekend was finishing the wings. You can see the sad state I left them in with my last update which I believe was in August. As I was working on them and adding more clay, they got heavier and started to sag a bit. Knowing full well I goofed up on the armature for them back in one of my initial updates, I tried to work around it and got really creative.

To fix the wings, I drilled a second hole in the base and created a very tall, sturdy wire structure with a hook on the end. Then I made another wire with two hooks that I used to puncture her wings. Since they are made of that delicate wire mesh, it went right through. The structure held the wings up as she baked. It took me a few tries to find the best spots to stab her to achieve the effect I wanted.

Once she finished baking, I had to repair the holes I made with Apoxie Sculpt. I also sanded her down really good and she's ready for paint! Before I get to that though, I came up with a really cool idea for the base that I am hoping to share next time. I bought the materials for it today. :)

She looks like she's been through a war, all patched up.

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 6 - student project

November 2014 - February 2015:

I'm convinced that this project was cursed. I had so many things go wrong that I put her aside so much over the last few months.

Shortly after I had made my last update, I primed Brightwing with my airbrush and put her aside. I started working on the resin design for the base by constructing the pieces out of Sculpey and creating molds for them.

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 7 - student project

After I made the molds, I tried three different types of resins and multiple dye methods to achieve the look I wanted. This took me several weeks of store runs and resin drying to sort out. You can see my progress in the picture below, with the original Sculpey piece on the left and the final result on the right.

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 8 - student project

Once I had the resin sorted out I went on to painting Brightwing. Below is a progress picture I took in November while I was watching BlizzCon on stream. At this point most of her body was completed and the wings were roughly blocked out color-wise. You can also see some of the resin curing in the molds off to the side.

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 9 - student project

I ended up putting her on a shelf until January after that picture was taken. I needed a break for Christmas projects and I had the most daunting part of the painting left - the wings. After Christmas, I forced myself to work on her some more since it was one of last projects I had to finish up before I felt like I could start new ones.

I made a great deal of progress on her wings in January. The most annoying part was figuring out how I wanted to lay out the veins on each side, keeping them similar but not too artificial. I sketched them out with pencil and painted over it with purple lines. The biggest hassle with painting her wings was getting the color gradient just right between the blues / reds / purples and then not making a mistake with the veins that would force me to fix the gradient again.

I relied heavily on in-game screenshots of Brightwing to get the wings the way I wanted them. I wanted to keep her coloring true to the game model rather than artwork such as the one I posted at the top of this project.

This project update was a little more staged for a friend of mine, so you don't see my paints and the resin pieces are all nicely piled up. :)

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 10 - student project


The weekend of February 7th, I told myself that this was it, that I was going to finish her for real this time. I painted the base, I put on some finishing touches and I blended the veins going to the top of the wings. I used Epoxy to put the resin pieces on the base. All was well and she was done! Until I took a step back...

As is the tradition, I started hating my own work. I decided that, just before bed, I'd just pull the resin pieces off and start over in the morning. I got to the last piece, lost my grip and she tumbled to the floor. Her tail broke, her wing broke, one of her back spines broke, an ear piece broke, etc. She was a wreck and I was hysterical. I quickly super glued the pieces on, just so she could sit stable overnight without breaking even more.

The next day, I repaired all of her issues with Apoxie Sculpt. Unfortunately, the repairs made it so that I'd have to repaint a ton, including the annoying wing gradients!

I finished repainting her and she was as good as new! I almost left the resin off completely due to the heartache it caused, but I found a configuration that I liked. I'm happy with how she turned out despite the trouble and I can't wait to sculpt my next project!

Brightwing the Faerie Dragon - image 11 - student project