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HOBBY: Step by Step Fire Dragons by Jawaballs

8 Minute Read
Jun 1 2012

Hey folks, Jawaballs here!

I decided to share something pretty (relatively speaking of course) with the BOLS crew today. I recently uploaded a 13 part painting tutorial to my Youtube page, but decided to exclusively compile them all here for your viewing pleasure and offer some insight into what I did.

 So lets have at it! I hope the embedding works.  This is going to be a LONG post. I am embedding 13 video segments, and discussing each of them.  But I think it is important for them to all be shared in one single post for your convenience.

First off, let me say that my videos and my painting are not perfect. Sometimes my meaty hands completely block what I am trying to show you, or sometimes I am completely off frame.  If one of the videos starts out with me blocking the image, stay with it, you do get a good look a few minutes later as I noticed and corrected the issue. Oh and I apologize for the ads at the beginning of some of the vids. Youtube default adds them now and I forgot to take them off some of them.

On with the show. I have only been painting models for a few years. I never painted a miniature before fall of 2006 and it was late 2007 before I realized I could actually do it fairly well.

In fact, my videos spring from that time.  When I got into 40k, I scoured the webs for tutorial videos on how to paint. My painting sucked and I was frustrated. But there were none.  So I had to figure it out for myself. Then I decided to create my “How to Paint Space Marines: Blood Angels” video and off I went!

The videos were hugely popular and took off. It seems there were a LOT of guys struggling with that first big painting hurdle that chases many out of the hobby.

My videos are created with that guy in mind. The frustrated dude who has tried but failed, and just needs to see some one else do it.  But also, they are created by a guy who knew nothing about making videos with a pocket camera. This one was actually done with a HD Camcorder. I upgraded.  ­čÖé

These videos are not new, however, I have never posted them on Youtube. They are actually part of my “How to Paint” sets of videos that I offer for sale. I figured with the new paints and models, plus a big improvement in my own painting ability, it was time to remake some of these videos. So I will be getting rid of all the old ones and making new sets.

Also, they are not action packed. These are videos of me painting in real time.  There will be some long points where I don’t do any thing but paint a single color on a model and say nothing at all. This to me is part of the charm of these videos. The quiet contemplation with some snarky comments from my wife mixed in help you get the feeling that a real person is painting, not some automaton hands.


First of all, you get to see some of the painstaking time and effort you need to invest to paint at the top levels. While it can certainly be debated whether or not I can be considered a top level painter because I have earned my share of criticism by painting with thick paint right from the pot, I have indeed won many GT Best Painted as well as Best Painted Single Model at last year’s Nova.  So I must be doing some thing right.

I bring that to you in real time.

The real time painting, VS a video comprised of sped up footage with voice over or worse just music, gives you a chance to get inside my head, and get a taste of the effort it takes to paint well.  A lot of guys will show me a model painted poorly, and ask me how to improve, and the first thing I will do is ask them how long they spent base coating.  Or how long they spent on the model total. Or did they even base coat at all? While some guys can paint a Best Painted winning model in just a few minutes, most of us myself included, are NOT that guy. Once they accept the fact that they will not get good results without spending the time it takes to get there, they can be helped.  My videos illustrate that point.

The two biggest secrets to painting are using multiple layers of base coats before highlights, and using the minimal amount of paint on your brush that you can.

So my videos are presented with the point of view of a 40k noob. The guys who benefit most from my videos are those guys who have tried unsuccessfully to figure out things on their own. They bought that first box set, and all the paints that the back of the box tells them to buy, and given it a try. But their marines are a blotchy mess.  They have gone through their own trial and error, and made their own mistakes. But with those failures comes experience. They learned some lessons, and my videos help to bring it all together. I show you how to fix what you did wrong. My Blood Angels videos do just that. While I painted, I explained where I had failed before, and how I was fixing my mistakes.

This Fire Dragon video set is the culmination of all of that learning.  (I will sooner or later have all those BA vids up too. ­čÖé  One word of note before I begin: I refer to old GW paints in this set. Google is your friend here. Find a new GW color to replace the ones I use.  There was a handy conversion chart put out for that purpose last month.

So here you go!


Video One:

In Video One I simply introduce what I have planned. I discuss the paints I will be using, and I finish black base coating. I sprayed it with Army Painter black, then used Chaos Black with a brush to fill in the spots that I missed with the spray. It is always better to just use a brush to touch up the last few spots you could not reach with spray when priming, rather than try to spray more and more to cover the model. All those repeated attempts will definitely get the spots you missed, but more importantly, they will also build up in the fine details and dull them down.  You want the least amount of priming as possible.

Video Two:

In video two I start the first base coat, a dark red. This red is made from a 50/50 mix of Blood Red and Dark Flesh.  The point if using dark colors as base coats is to create shadow and richer color. My own skin has a light flesh color, but I know that underneath that is dark red blood, dark muscles and other goodies like all the paint I have eaten over the years that is slowly building up in my veins. When I used to do portraits, I started with dark blues and reds as my base colors and layered up from there.  Same concept. Note that I left the cracks between armor plates black.

Video Three:

Here I add a layer of pure Blood Red straight from the pot. Notice the segment at 4:17 for a decent example. This by the way is how I painted last years Nova Open army that won best painted at several GTs.  I did the same steps up to this point, with a final highlight of Blazing Orange and a wash of Baal Red. That’s it!  This model already looks good enough for any Blood Angel or other red model. Not enough for Fire Dragons though.


 Video Four:

In Video Four I really develop the highlights by adding orange to the edges and dragging it into the armor plates. Not much to say here other than use less Blazing Orange than you did Blood Red. Each of these successive layers should be lass than the one before.  Oh, and I said Translucent several times, I meant Transparent!

Video Five:

In video Five I do another layer using an old GW color Fiery Orange which is just a 50 mix of Yellow and Orange.  The most important part of this segment is that I started the helmet. If you have been wanting to learn how to paint a Yellow Blood Angels Assault Marine helmet, here you go!  This is how I do it.

Video Six:

Here is the meat of painting a Yellow helmet which is great for painting any yellow, but especially a Blood Angels Assault Marine.  I use lots of yellows, but probably the most important one here is Valejo lemon yellow as a highlight.

Video Seven:


More yellow!  Yes folks, yellow is hard to do right. The biggest mistake people make is that they try to completely cover the helmet with one shade of yellow, finishing the whole thing in one application.  Well the helmet alone took me about half an hour to paint at least. White is the final highlight for yellow.

Video Eight:

In Video Eight I could have probably done a little editing. Sorry my big ole fingers blocked a lot of the video.  I painted the eyes of the Fire Dragon.

Video Nine:

It’s all in the details. With the armor done, I start with the little bits of details like the leather pouches and gemstones.

Video Ten:

I do the sash using Scaly Green. Scaley green is a very cool green and I wanted a cool accent to balance the abundance of very warm colors.  I end up topping off the scaley green with warm green again, but I liked the cool base color.

Video Eleven:

Home Stretch!  I do some of the green laurels on his chest and arms, and I do the Bone parts of his helmet and I finish his pouch and other fabric bits.

Video Twelve:

The end is in sight!  Adding more cool accents, I paint the runes on his head and sash.

Video Thirteen:

Lucky 13 to wrap up the model.  I put on the gun, and base.  I admit, I dropped the ball on the gun. It is not bad, but not as good as the rest of the model.  I do however like the base. I used one of my Jawa-Forge resin bases which are actually not available by the way. There are just too many guys out there making honestly better bases than the ones I was doing. ­čÖé  I made these lava bases by molding some plaster “rocks” from some rock molds I bought at Hobby Town used for train sets and breaking them into pieces. The natural bubbles and plaster texture left a nice “lava rock” look. I used the heads of pins for the different sized bubbles and the lava was just excessive use of white elmers glue. I put a big splotch of glue on a normal base, plopped a couple pieces of broken plaster rocks on it, then added a few pin heads.  Lava bases!

I pretty much just repeated the steps I used for the Fire dragon on the lava with a heavy dose of Baal red, which actually dried with a nice shiny finish for some reason.

So that wraps up my How to Paint Fire Dragons tutorial!  I hope it helps your painting.  As always, it is a pleasure to do what I can for the community. Feel free to check out  MY BLOG where I have been posting up pictures of all the Full Sized Banners I have been doing lately. My most recent were three I sent out for a new brick and mortar gaming store opening up in the old GW Battle Bunker in Glen Burnie, MD!  Can’t have enough of those.  Dropzone Games will no doubt fill the gaping hole left by the pull out of one of GW’s biggest stores.  Check out their FB page for updates. Them opening is a huge boon to the Baltimore area and I wish them all the best.

More to come…


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