Introduction: Dragon Chess!: Painting the Dragons

About: British techie moved to Texas in 2013. Now a full time, freelance artist. Interested in articulation and assemblies. Fan of support-free models. John Joseph Merlin is my hero.

I am very happy to present my latest collection of 3D printable models: Dragon Chess! A comprehensive chess set comprising of 6 original dragon sculpts. Figures proportioned to allow for easy piece recognition and play.

These figurines were sculpted primarily for SLA printing and were tested on the following two machines:

Prusa SL1 (the golds)
Elegoo Mars (the silvers)

I really enjoy this printing technology because it allows me to sculpt in tiny and precise detail and produces models which require a minimal amount of clean-up and post processing to look good. The dragons are designed to be easy to paint for those less experienced and I had requests for a tutorial to show how this was done - so here it is!

This painting technique uses metallic waxes to pick up detail and add an incredible shine.

These dragons are available for purchase here:



My Mini Factory


This tutorial was written during one of the few days in Texas where one can sit outside and not melt. So I did. Welcome to the work table in my garden...

You will need the following:

  1. Printed Dragons(Preferably mine. Many thanks in advance :-))

  2. Matte black acrylic primer and paint. You will need this to create a consistent base for your model. Even if you print using black resin, it will still be somewhat translucent and you don't want this. Make your life easy and use a spray. I used a Krylon acrylic and paint combination because I am lazy and I had a whole chess set (plus some) to paint.

    The dragons above are painted. I hope you like my special painting brick:-)
  3. Metallic waxes. I used 2 kinds. Rub n Buff and Craf-T. I purchased both from Amazon and Etsy. The Rub 'n' Buff colours shown here (in the tubes) are:

    Gold leaf
    Antique Gold

    The Craf-T palette is Kit No.1

  4. Cheap paint brushes for the waxes. Seriously, don't use anything decent, the wax will destroy them. I used a "flat" for larger areas and a "liner" for small detail.

  5. Clear acrylic gloss sealer (only use gloss because you want to keep the high shine). You can use posh stuff for paintings and whatnot (Liquitex do an excellent one but it's pricey so I save it). In this case however, I used Pledge Floor Care because it's cheap as chips and does the job well. Use a separate brush for this.

Step 1: The Base..

At this point you will have your painted and primed dragon which has been allowed to fully dry (according to manufacturer's instructions). We are going to paint the "bishops" -a two-headed Wyvern guarding some crystals. He will be painted silver with some blue crystals. You can see him sitting above on the painting brick with his gold friend. This is the end result we are aiming for.

Let's start with the Rub n Buff.

Though tutorials abound with people using lots at one go and rubbing it on with a cloth, my technique is a little different and we really aren't going to use much at all, as my models are small with very fine details that can end up blunted if too much product is used.

  1. Start out by squeezing a little of the silver Rub n Buff onto a piece of cardboard.

  2. Now we are going to load the "flat" brush and wipe off as much as we can until we have the barest minimum. We do this by brushing the cardboard as shown.

  3. Now, very, very lightly brush over a textured area of the dragon. I suggest somewhere like his back or wings until you get the hang of it. Look at how the detail is picked up.

    These are what I call low risk areas which means that if you are a bit heavy handed then the overall look of the model won't be affected too much unlike for example, if you did the same with his face.
  4. Carry on like this (lightly reloading the brush when needed) until you feel comfortable with the technique. I always recommend you do the face with the very lightest amount possible because you can always add more afterwards. The picture below shows a gentle first pass at his face.

    I've sculpted it so his expression is held in the recesses but if you slap on too much you'll end up with the very, very silver faced dragon. Again start to pick out other details until you feel satisfied with the overall result. according to your preference; you may prefer a more shiny dragon but I prefer a more weathered look.

  5. Here is my finished silvered dragon.

    Now at this point you may want to buff the dragon carefully with a cloth to bring up a brighter shine. This is entirely up to you. as we haven't slapped on loads of product, this coat will actually dry and bond quickly. Rub n Buff is great because buffing actually helps it bond to the surface and if you want to leave your dragon as it is, buff and then leave to dry for a couple of days before sealing.

Step 2: Color!

Adding a little bit of color can make all the difference to a model. Rub n Buff is a great product but it has a limited color palette. I was very happy when I discovered Craf-T products but I found two things:

  1. It won't buff up to a high shine, therefore it is necessary to have a layer of Rub n Buff underneath to help boost it.
  2. It will not dry and bond by itself and must be sealed so it won't come off when you handled the model.

For my silver dragon I decided some blue would look the best. Take your liner brush and since Craf-T palettes are conveniently like painting palettes, take a little and paint the crystals:

if you feel the effect is too dulling, take a little of the silver rub n buff and use to pick out highlights. Here is the finished dragon:

Once this has finished - leave it for a couple of days to settle and then sealed with a clear gloss acrylic.

Step 3: Colour Ideas!

Even if you want your model to look one colour, additional colours can be used to enhance the look. Here are some examples.

Silver Queen:
Silver Rub n Buff for the body. Lilac Craf-T for the inner wings and green for the eyes

Golden Queen:
Antique Gold Rub n Buff for the body, Craf-T bronze for the inner wings and blue for the eyes

The Big Worm:

The Worm was a little more work. I used Rub n Buff Gold leaf for the tower, his eyes, teeth and horns. and Rub n Buff Ruby for his body. I then picked out bits of the worm in Craf-T red and bronze.
The Golden Bishop:
Rub n Buff Gold Leaf overall and used Craf-T green for the crystals!