Introduction: Paper Mache Dragon Trophy

About: I'm a prop and costume designer, fabricator and artist. Although my specialty is working in 3D, I have experience in illustration using various mediums such as computer software, pastels, paints, charcoal, and…

Do you like dragons? Do you like trophies?
This instructable will show my process of how I made my dragon trophy. I made this back in 2016 and just getting around to making an instructable so my apologies if some info is lacking. Many of the techniques I followed were by . Watch his Youtube channel for a more in depth look.

Let's go ahead and get started!



White Flour




Old Sheet

Masking Tape

Hot Glue

Acrylic Paints



Step 1: The Form

The form can both be the quickest and hardest to get right depending on what you're making. I don't have progress pictures of the dragon but I do have a picture that used the same process (it ended up being a donkey costume head for a theater). For a typical hunting trophy, it's usually the neck and head so these are the forms we'll be making but this process can work for any form. Ball up pieces of newspaper, plastic bags, and/or foam and tape it all together and continue taping it together until you have your desired shape. You can even use balloons depending on what you're making. This does not need to be perfect but this will be the main structure.

When you are finished with your form, make your paper-mache mixture. You can find many different mache recipes online and you may need to experiment a little to find the consistency you like. I mixed the white flour and warm tap water until I got a consistency similar to white glue. After getting the consistency I wanted, I added a touch of salt to taste (this is actually to help prevent mold).

Next cut strips of newspaper, dip into your mixture, squeegee out the excess and drape over your form. Do this until you have finished the first layer. Allow for it to dry. The more layers you do at a time, the longer it will take to dry so it is best to do it a layer at a time. I probably did 3-5 layers total.

Step 2: Cut the Form

When all your layers have dried, mark the head in the middle to create the mouth. Use a hobby knife or heavy duty scissors to split open the head form. Pull out the ball of newspaper and tape that you had used to make the form. Now you have a shell. Do the same but with the ends of the body (marked in photo). Save the end cutoffs for later.

Step 3: The Teeth

Now it's time to sculpt the teeth. I used air-dry clay and made many from various sizes and shapes. It helps to look at references from canines, reptiles, and/or artwork of dragons. After your clay has dried, paint the teeth an off-white/ivory and hot glue to the head shells. I wanted more of a vicious look to my dragon so I placed the teeth both inside and outside the shell halves.

Step 4: The Mouth

Take those old sheets you have lying around or some thin lightweight fabric and cut thin strips. Dip those in the mache mixture similar to the newspaper from earlier. Lay these strips between the teeth and "hug" each individual tooth on either side. Once you've done this to all the teeth, take a larger sheet of fabric, dip into the mixture and gently lay the piece within the mouth. Aim to have wrinkles, you don't want this smooth and try not to lay it perfectly flat along the inside, try to suspend the fabric within the mouth.

Step 5: Paint Mouth

Once dry, go ahead and paint the interior of the mouth. It's easier to do it now rather than later and look like you're trying to put your head into the dragon's mouth. Use various shades and tints of red. I used a standard red paint as a base coat. I then made a darker red and added a small amount of water to make it a wash. I then painted this wash all over the inside and wiped away most of the excess. In doing this, the darker red remains in all the low spots but is removed from the high points. Mix a lighter red and lightly brush on the tops of the wrinkles and other high points. These will be your highlights.

Step 6: Attach the Lower Jaw

Before you attach the lower jaw, it's best to temporarily attach the body somewhere so that you can easily work on it. I cut a board that fit within the base of the neck and attached from the neck to the wood with staples. I then fixed this board to an additional larger board that I could now prop up and hang somewhere.

Hot glue the lower jaw to the opening of the neck. Use additional pieces of newspaper strips and put along the seam of where the jaw meets the neck. This will provide additional strength in addition to the glue.

Step 7: The Tongue

The tongue is made from two coat hanger wires. Each wire was wrapped in masking tape, thicker at one end and tapered off towards the other with a few inches of wire protruding from the thick end. Wrap the two "tongues" together with tape before covering with sheet/fabric mache. For your dragon, beast, etc, you can do a split tongue like I did or just combine the two pieces all the way. Once dry, go ahead and paint.
After the tongue has once again dried, poke the wires through the back of the jaw and load it with hot glue. Place another piece of fabric mache over the back of the tongue.

Step 8: The Cranium

Attach the main head piece similar to how the jaw was attached.

Remember the portion of the neck you cut off earlier? Reuse it! Use this piece for the top of the head. Attach like the previous pieces.

I put a wire wrapped with tape similar to how the tongue was made on top of this to help add some definition for later.

Step 9: Building Up the Nose

I change the position of the nose later so he's not so pug nosed

I used pieces of a toilet paper tube and continued to build up the head with many many layers or tape. This bit is really when we start defining the face of the dragon so you can really start going crazy with your dragon face. I didn't have any plan initially so I shaped him as I went.

Step 10: The Eyes

The eyes were made with ping pong balls. I cut one in half but this was actually unnecessary. Once painted, the eyes were hit with a glossy spray paint and positioned on the head. I initially positioned the eyes looking outward and I do wish I kept it this way because if you look at the dragon's common relative, a crocodile, the eyes point outward.
However if you want to do what I did, it's completely up to you! Just for mine, that's what I would change.

After positioning the eyes, I continued to build up the brow sections and other areas around the eyes using wire and tape. In the later pictures you'll see where I re-positioned the nose. The solution was really quite simple. All I did was take a hobby knife, cut the bridge of the nose, scoot it further down, and tape the gap. The nosejob was a success.

Step 11: The Horns and Frills

What's a dragon without horns?

The frills were just wire and tape once again. The horns were done similarly but with newspaper between the wire and tape since they're bulkier. Both of these were poked and glued in. Additional newspaper was taped on to help define the face.

Step 12: The Skin

It's time to skin the dragon

Take some more fabric mache and start covering it all over the dragon. For the frills, take one sheet of fabric and drape it over the frills. Trim after. Place strips of the fabric around the jaws and these will be the lips.

Step 13: The Scales

Easy but repetitive.

The scales on the underside of the neck were placed before the smaller triangular ones. These were simply rectangular pieces folded to give it more depth and mache'd on.

The triangular scales I made were pieces of sheet cut into triangles. Similar to the previous scales, I folded these triangles into smaller triangles to give them more depth. Every one of these triangles were dipped into the mixture and placed in rows alternating and overlapping from the previous row.

Step 14: Painting

We're almost to the end!

The dragon's base coat was black and red for the frills and horns. Blue paint was dry brushed over the dragon. Dry brushing is putting very little paint on your brush until it's effectively "dry" and then brushing it over your piece. Tints of red were then brushed over the horns and frills as well.

Various metallic paints were dry brushed over these base coats. Copper for the scales, Silver for the raised points of the underside scales, dark blue for the low points of these scales, light and dark blue and purple over most of the face, green for the lips, and red for the frills.

The mouth got a glossy medium painted on to look like it was wet. You can do this with resin and let it drip to look like there is spit dripping from the teeth and tongue.

After painting, I unmounted the dragon from it's ugly board and screwed it onto a nicer stained plaque.

Step 15: Finished!

Hang the dragon somewhere and you're done!

Feel free to explore other techniques and designs. I highly encourage looking into Gourmet Paper Mache and his Youtube channel for other ideas, tips and tricks from the master! Of course if you have any specific questions, go ahead and ask down below!

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