How to Make Dragon Scales Out of Polymer Clay

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Scales add detail and realism to your dragon sculpture.
Scales add detail and realism to your dragon sculpture. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Polymer clay is an extremely versatile sculpting medium that becomes hard after baking. The imagination is an artist's only limit when creating with polymer clay; fantasy castles, fantastic monsters, damsels in distress and fearsome dragons can all be crafted using polymer clay. Creating textures such as dragon scales is a simple, if slightly time-consuming, task and can add amazing depth and realism to your finished project.

Things You'll Need

  • Aluminum can or sheet of thin metal
  • Metal cutters
  • Hole punch
  • Glue
  • Luminescent paint

Cut a piece of thin metal, such as the aluminum from a drink can, into a strip about 6 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Flatten the metal piece. File the edges lightly, if necessary.

Mark the center of the strip. At the center, use a hole punch to punch a half circle into one side of the strip. Repeat for the other side so that the two half circles line up with their curves almost touching.

Bend the strip in half so that the curves of the half circles line up. The fold will have a tip and two swooping "shoulders" that represent one-quarter of a circle each. Fasten the two halves of the strip together with a little super glue. Add a handle to the tool, if desired.

Plan the lines of the scales. Use a clay knife to make small ticks to mark off lines. Remember that each scale will be the height of your tool tip.

Press the tip of the tool into the clay, beginning with the top-most row of scales. Remove the tool. There will be an impression in the clay the shape of the tool tip.

Use the tool to make a second impression next to the first using the same method used in Step 5. The two impressions should be just touching to form a smooth scale. Repeat until the row is finished.

Repeat Step 5 for the second row, positioning the tool tip so that the tip is aligned with, and just barely touching, the center of a first row scale.

Repeat until every row is finished. Smooth out edges if desired or add other textures using a craft knife or clay working tools.

Bake the clay according to the directions included with the clay. Polymer clay normally bakes at 215 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit but the exact temperature varies by brand.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cut your own scale shapes, of any size, using metal cutters instead of a hole punch. Shapes must be symmetrical and aligned but otherwise are limited only by your imagination. Try different curves and irregularities for unique scales.
  • Use thicker metals for more permanent tools if you have access to and knowledge of required metal cutting equipment.
  • Add one to five layers of luminescent paint after baking to give your dragon scales a pearlized, shimmering finish.
  • Use caution when cutting metal. Sharp edges can cause injury.
  • Keep clay working tools away from young children.
  • Polymer clay will change color slightly as it bakes.

References

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