Friday 3 February 2017

Hobby Update - Drakon Riders


The last year was not very productive in terms of painting and modelling for me. One reason was that I had all the miniatures for the units I used in my Kings of War armies. Another was that I simply focused on learning how to play that game and finding the army list I was happy with. 

However, at some stage I decided to try and create my own Drakon Riders. The goal was to make a unit that would fit into the army in terms of armor style and colors. Adding one regiment didn't look like a massive amount of work either. 

As always, I could count on my brother and often a sparring partner, Eastern Barbarian, for advice. He is really into converting models for his own collection and after a few brainstorming sessions I had the idea ready. He also provided some very important components to make it happen. 

I would like to share the way I made and painted my Drakon Riders here. It was very interesting experience and I learned a lot in the process. However, I also know that there is a lot to improve, even if I always aimed to create and paint models at a table top standard.

1. Components

I started with buying a box of new, plastic Cold One Knights as intended to use the mounts as they are.

Cold One Knights - who would have thought I would buy them!

This set was used to create a majority of a drakon rider model. I used the following parts:

1. Cold Ones
2. Knights' legs
3. Lance
4. Shield

Parts from Cold One Knights set used for the model.

To complete the model I needed wings (of course!) and the torso and the head of the knight. For the wings I used those from Vargheists:

The same set of wings was used for each drakon model.

As for the rider I wanted a High Elf model so that it would be compatible with the rest of my collection. Fortunately, the plastic Dragon Princes were a great choice!

Dragon Prince or Drakon Rider now!

2. Assembling the Model

I decided to assemble the mount and the rider separately. I also didn't attach the shield but only removed the motif as I wanted to pain it on the flat surface. I actually liked that wyrm pattern and tried to paint it later.

I attached the wings with the help of some brass wire. I then used green stuff to fill the gap between the wing and the body of the mount. When done I added some scales so that the transition between the body and the wing looks better. Vargheists wings on their own look like naked flesh so I thought that without the scales it would not match the cold one skin. Finally, I also filled the gaps in the membranes with green stuff. 

For the knight I also used brass wire to pin the torso with the legs and the head respectively. Another pin joined the lance arm and the torso too. In addition, I used green stuff to sculpt scale armor on the legs as Cold One Knights have mesh armor instead. While High Elves have usually scale armor so I tried to make it compatible again. Unfortunately, that part is in the need of a huge improvement but when painted it does not look too bad, at least for the miniatures for gaming purpose. 

Drakon and his Rider ready for the undercoat.

I also added back banners for the Rider at this stage. I simply attached some green stuff at the back of the torso, shaped it so that it looked a bit like a back pack and stuck two metal pins into it. I left it to get solid before applying undercoat.

3. Painting the Drakon

First challenge in painting was what colors to use for the Drakon. I didn't paint such models before and I wanted to achieve two goals. First, to make them stand out among the units of my army. Second, still be compatible with the whole color scheme of the force. 

In general, I use cold blues for plate and scale armor, warm browns and yellows for helmets shoulder pads and some other armor elements and purples for the clothes. Since the knight himself does not have much of the areas where the purples would be visible I decided to use these colors as main palette for the Drakon. To further distinguish the mounts from the rest of the army and to make the scales and membranes visible, I used turquoise or similar colors for them. 

Before I go into more details of which colors I used to paint the models I wanted to add that I always start with the darkest color as the base and continue painting with lighter layers. I may add some washes in the meantime too. But in general, it is always from dark tones to the light ones. 

Step 1 - the Body

After applying black undercoat I start with painting the main body of the Drakon. It means that I only omit saddle and armor pieces.I started with the mix of Citadel Ultramarines Blue and Druchii Violet Shade for the purple base. Then Valejo Model Color - Violet Red. Next a layer of Vallejo Game Color - Blood Red. Next was a thin layer of the first mix but diluted to work as a mat wash. Last highlight was with thin Valejo Model Color - Violet Red.

I decided to paint scales in as simple way as possible so I applied 1-2 layers of Vallejo Model Color - Emerald. 

The saddle and the straps were also painted in a single color, Scale 75 Dubai Brown. The mounts have nice piece of armor too but as I painted that with the same colors as the knights "golden" armor I will cover the details when discussing the way I painted the rider.

For the fangs and bones protruding from the spine I use Scale75 Tenere Yellow. 

Step 2 - the Wings 

Since the body was painted in warm, purple colors I wanted a bit different feel from the membranes. However, I still wanted to use turquoise like colors as they are warm and would contrast well with cold blue of the armor of the knight.

I started building up the highlight with Citadel Ultramarine Blue and added a few layers of  Vallejo Model Color - Emerald. Then added Citadel Druchii Violet Shade to the edges of the membrane to correct any mistakes. I also added it to the "cracks" in the membranes. 

With that step done I had the Drakons themselves pretty much finished. Now I moved to painting the Rider. 

Drakons after Stage 1 and 2.

4. Painting the Rider

Now this stage didn't require much experimenting as I have painted Silver Breeze cavalry with the same method before. 

Step 1 - Gold Armor

Gold armor covers majority of the miniature. I applied Citadel Tin Bitz as a main color and continued with Scale75 Dubai Brown - Sahara Yellow - Tenere Yellow. I used these colors to paint the armor for the Drakon too and painted them together.

Drakon Rider after Golden Armor Stage - here with a prototype of the base.

Step 2 - Blue Armor

I started with painting blue armor. This included scale armor on the legs, part of the front and back of the torso, gauntlets and membranes on the wings on the shoulder and helmet. I started with the base color of metallic Scale75 Cobalt Alchemy and followed with diluted Citadel Foundation - Necron Abyss.

Next I was highlighting with Citadel Ultramarines Blue, Teclis Blue and Lothern Blue. 

Step 3 - Lance

The lance's shaft is painted with a single color - Scale 75 Tenere Yellow. But I wanted the blade to look nicer so spent a bit of extra time on it. I started as with blue armor, i.e. Scale75 Cobalt Alchemy but followed with the mix of Citadel Ultramarine Blue and Druchii Violet Shade. Next, I started building up highlights with Ultramarine Blue - Teclis Blue - Lothern Blue. Finally, I did some edging with Skull White.

Step 4 - Shield

I needed to attach the shield first and it is done with the brass wire pin going from the hand on the shield interior to the armor on the torso. Next, I had to add green stuff to form an arm. 

The main body of the shield is painted exactly as in the case of Blue Armor and free hand as well as the edge of it is painted with the Gold Armor recipe. 

Step 5 - Banners and Pennant

I use simple paper to create those. I draw the shape that is a image-mirror image like and the wrap it around the lance or the pole for the banner and apply glue to the inside surfaces. That allows me to fix it on the model. Next I paint it with the mix of Citadel Ultramarine Blue and Druchii Violet Shade and add a bit of highlights with Vallejo Emerald. 

Once dry I can form the shape of the pennant by bending it gently so it looks more dynamic. 

5. The Bases

I used the same method to create the bases as described before in my two previous articles:

Initially, I planned to paint only a single unit with three models but I ended up painting fourth Drakon and basing them two per regimental base. Second unit got a multi-base too!

Drakon Rider 1

Drakon Rider 2

Drakon Rider 3

 6. Summary

In general, I am very happy how the whole unit looks like and that I have two regiments ready to be used in my games. It took me quite a long time to first, create the prototype of the model and then test various colors. But once settled on the colors, the whole process went smoother. However, considering modelling, converting, painting as well as the base creating, I think that on average I spent at least 10 hours per Drakon. 

At the same time I am fully aware it is table top quality painting and I have a lot to learn. I tend to be impatient and I am not happy with the fact that my painting, when checked up close, is not smooth and clean enough. I think I need to prepare paints better and simply be more patient so that I don't have to correct the mistakes too often. 

I hope you liked the article. I would be very grateful for suggestions about areas and methods to improve. Thanks in advance!

Drakon Riders and Silver Breeze.


  1. Thanks for sharing how these came together - I really like the results.

  2. Fantasic conversion with these! When I saw that you used Cold Ones as the mount I had to stop and look back at the first picture! The paint job on them is incredible as well, great job on them.

    1. Thanks Joe! I am glad I can post some hobby updates too and these plastic kits are really great to play with. Thanks for the kind words about painting too :)

  3. Fantastic work on these models, really like the paint scheme too. Matches the rest of your force very well.

    1. Hi Michael! Thank you! It took me some time to implement some additional colors but I am happy with the results. Now onto the rest of the army! :)

  4. These are incredible! Beautiful work. Looking forward to the upcoming reports!

    1. Thanks Dan! The reports are coming, I promise!

  5. Great article swordy, don't undersell your painting, it looks great. I slowly tried to improve my painting over the years but then settled back to a good quality rather than great due to the time it would take to get things done. Your colour scheme and basing really makes rhw army pop. Great work and well done.

    1. Hi Staks! Thanks a lot! I like what I have achieved so far but I know where I should improve too. However, it is always great to have some feedback from other painters as they always can see something I may omit.

      I agree that great may be the enemy of good. So I try to find the balance between the quality and time spent on painting. I believe I am improving on both and I am already planning next step in painting/modelling. The goal is to have the 2000 point army for KoW in this color scheme done this year :)


  6. Not only awesome models, but awesome painted models, and an awesome tutorial on how to make them! WELL DONE!

    1. Hi Greg!

      Thanks a lot for your kind words! I am very happy to know that you like them and that you also find the article useful! It is fantastic to know that what I wanted to share as my own experience is useful for others.

      I am also very proud that Mr. Volomir considered my work worthy including on his awesome blog:

  7. I agree with the others. They are really unique and frankly you've done an amazing job. Fully impressed. Appreciate the tutorial for us budding converters.
    As a long time lurker, i'd also like to say thanks for all the battle reps. Our club have finally made the jump into KOW from 8th and I almost feel like i've played many games due to the number of yours i've read ;p

    1. Hi Knoffles!

      Thanks a lot for your comment! It is great to hear from you and to know that you have been checking my blog for some time.

      I am glad you like the article about Drakons, I am very happy with how they turned out. But the main reason I wrote it is to share the experience because converting them and painting them was not that difficult! On the other hand, I would not call it a tutorial because I am far from teaching people. There is still so much for me to learn! However, it is fantastic to know that at this level other hobbyists consider my work worthy! It means I am going to the right direction :)

      Thanks a lot for the kind words about the reports! Great to hear our club is moving towards KoW. It is a very good game, may take a few battles to switch to different mentality but it is absolutely worth it! That's fantastic that my reports helped to understand it better too!

      And it is quite a nice blog you have too! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hey mate, how's it going? I was catching up on your KoW battle reports and decided to check in on the hobby section...These models are extremely well done and with that paint job they look like they belong in some Avatar/Jurrasic Park crossover. Makes me want to finally convert my Dragon Prince models...