Painting this dragon jacket was a labor of love, and a literal pain in the neck. It took, collectively, 49 hours of work over the course of three weeks, from the cutting/gluing phase through the painting phase. It's the most labor-intensive piece I've ever made! I think it turned out pretty cool though!
Here's the process:
Step 1: Painting in the red centers. I wanted the scales to look as if they were embers, glowing from within, so I started by painting the center of each scale with a crimson paint mixed with a metallic copper paint so it would catch the light and shimmer.
SO. MANY. SCALES.
STEP 2: Silver Scale Tips - Next I started painting the tip of each scale silver, so that they had a little extra shine and would stand out from one another once it was all painted. I thought the red/copper mixed with the silver would give it a bit of a fire and ice feel, and it ended up looking quite nice. (Fiona was trying to get me to play fetch with her in the background, haha!)
STEP 3: Blending With Black - I needed to blend the silver and red together, so I did this by taking a bristly paintbrush and some matte black paint and "burnished" the edges of the red and silver together. (It wasn't technically burnishing, but that's what I felt like I was doing.) I was trying to give each scale a bit of depth from the ones around it, and also blend down the red to look more ember-like. I wanted the silver to look as if it emerged from the rest of the scales.
STEP 4: The Top Coat - Once I had all of the scales "burnished," I took a shimmery metallic black paint and watered it way down to make a wash. I used the wash over all of the scales to make the paint job look more uniform and to tone down the red and silver a little bit. It's the same metallic black paint that i used on the vertebrae forms on the back of the jacket, and the wing-like epaulettes.
STEP 5: Seal That Sucker! Once the paint job was finished, I took it out to my patio and sprayed it with a clear-coat sealer, to keep it as protected as possible.
STEP 6: Enjoy the Fruits of my Labor - After 49 collective hours of work, this jacket was finally done! Now to figure out how to make a dragon head to go along with it ...