Caught this sucker in the chicken coop a week back. Wasn’t trying to eat a chicken, though. Was trying to lay an egg, I believe. The hoe made short work of it. I decided to mount the head. Legs fried up nice, too. All six of them!
Most of that wasn’t true. It’s actually a 3D print from Ritual Casting, an artist on Patreon that I subscribe to. They produce some of the most detailed 3D models I’ve run into so far. Patreon has a treasure trove of good deals on 3D models you can get through monthly support of the artists there.
Between kits or dioramas, I like to make something “outside of scope”. Something I can try new techniques on or not put too much effort into. A palette cleanser if you will. That’s where this girl comes in.
I spent some time thinking about what colors to use on it. Green was a natural choice though a little overplayed as lizards go. To spice it up, I did two things for the first time. These were: mix inks and metallic paints, and spray metallic paints through the airbrush. Both worked a treat.
First, I mixed a few drops into the gold at about a 5:1 ratio of gold to green ink. That established the base. It still looked gold, though. Next, I moved up to about a 2:1 ratio of gold to green. I used that on the bottom and top to establish a nice blend. I mixed a couple drops of red ink into what remained in the airbrush and worked a few smaller areas. Happy with the outcome, I moved onto the wood mount.
I used balsa wood for this. I cut a shield pattern by folding a piece of paper in half and drawing half a shield. Then I cut it out for a symmetrical shape. It’s the same technique we used as kids to make paper snowflakes. It’s the fastest way I know to make a symmetrical shape. I used this as a guide to cut out the balsa in the correct shape.
Using watered down craft paints, I stained the shield and the square piece it would be attached to. Remembering how wet balsa warps, I applied water to the back of the wood. I hoped that by uniformly wetting the wood, I could counter the warp. By the gods, it seemed to work.
By this time, the gloss clear coat I applied to the lizard was dry and I could work on details. I used wet blending inside the mouth to transition the tongue, gums, and mouth-hole (?) from a dark purple to a lighter pink. To do this I added acrylic medium to purple and pink on my wet palette. This keeps the paints from drying as quickly and makes them less opaque. I applied the purple and pink where I wanted them and then mixed them together right on the model where the transitions occurred. This step took several layers as the colors dried fairly translucent. Using the pink, I added highlights where I thought appropriate.
Using the same techniques, I painted the teeth. They start at a plaque-ridden yellow towards the bottom and move to an ivory at the top. This girl doesn’t floss. Once everything was dry, I spot-applied red and brown washes to finish tying the colors together. These washes also added a shadow effect to the recesses. After kicking it around for a while, I decided not to apply any washes to the skin. I worried it might lose its luster if I did.
Finally, I drilled a hole in the back of its head and mounted it to the balsa base with a screw. I wore a face mask while drilling the resin. The drill heated the resin and made a lot of unhealthy dust. It smelled like lizard butt, too.
Printing time aside, this project took about six hours. It was a nice change of pace while I decide what to build next. It had the added benefit of turning out awesome, as well! After I scare my kids with it a few more times, I’ll find a place to hang it in the hideout. I suspect the living room is off limits.