Tutorial: Wings

Scratchbuilt Dragon Wings
[Page 3 of 4]
Add the upper finger/wing bones.
Awaiting a talon sheath on the longest wing bone.
fter the lower wing bone sections, we'll add the upper bones. These are done exactly like the lower ones, following the contour of the 0.032 wire. The bones should be thinner in the middle and flare out on the ends. Apply the epoxy "tube" as before, but smooth out from the center toward the edges. This will extend onto the joints slightly, making it appear as if the joints are connected inside the bones.
On the longest wing bone, sheathe the talon.
A close up of the small sheath on the talon.
Notice that on the longest wing bone, I didn't take the putty all the way to the talon. The reason for this is purely aesthetic -- I want a third, smaller bone at the very edge to add an alien touch to the wings.

This small tube on the longest bone is done exactly like the previous ones. The exception is that there is no joint between this bone and the previous one, but that's simply a matter of choice.
Trace a pattern of the membrane on parchment.
Precision isn't necessary -- oversize the tracing since we'll trim it down later.
Finally it begins to look like a wing. Let the putty dry for at least a few hours then place it on a piece of parchment. I'm using Southworth 24lb parchment but mostly because I had it handy. Any sturdy paper will work -- it needs to be sturdy paper since we don't want it to disintegrate with the water-based paints later.

Trace the membrane pattern onto the paper with a pencil.

Using scissors, snip out the wing pattern from the parchment. Lay it over the frame to test the fit. It doesn't have to be precise since we're going to trim it later. It's fine if it's oversized, but if it's undersized make a new one. Don't glue it yet! There are still some decisions to be made.
Decide which direction the wings are flapping.
Before attaching the parchment/membrane, decide how you want your wings attached to the final creature. This really only matters if the wing/arm base piece has a definite left or right like the tyranid scything talon arm. Hold the arm up to the creature and make a mark on the side where the membrane should be attached.
Depending on what you based your arm structure on, it might be time for an important decision. With my wings, they have a distinct left and right. By putting the right arm in the left side, for example, the wings will natural stretch out up and behind the creature -- perfect for soaring monstrosities! Alternately, putting the left arm in the left side, the tyranid appears to be in the sweeping the wings down for altitude. In the example photos, this is what I choose to do.

Remember that the membrane will be attached to the back of the arm and wing bone structure. If you're facing a real bat from the front and he stretches his wings out, you'll be looking into the underside of the wings. To duplicate this appearance, we'll need to glue the parchment membrane onto the back of the wing frame.

If you've chosen an alternate arm/wing structure, such as with filing down a miniature's arms, you may not need to do this.
Attach the parchment and add nicks and rips to the membrane (optional).
I used a pair of scissors to cut a few nicks out of the wings. The holes were done with a sharp hobby knife.
Once you've decided which way you want to attach the membrane, glue it onto the wing structure. I used white glue applied to the wing bones in a thin line. Let this dry, then use a few small drops of Zap-A-Gap is an excellent super glue used for miniatures and modeling. For particularly small parts, put some Zap-A-Gap on a space piece of plastic and, using tweezers, dip the small part into the glue -- it's a lot more accurate than using the tip of the bottle.Zap-A-Gap, applied directly to the parchment side of the join. Besides further adhering the membranes, this will make the parchment stiffer.

It's extremely important to use a sharp knife in this step. Carefully trim any parchment that doesn't line up by cutting down along the top of the wing bones. It might help you see the wing bones if you put a flashlight on your lap, pointed up at the wing as you cut. Don't worry if you cut a little into the wing bone as we'll cover that later.

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