Frost Serpent Arises

 This is build number four for Parts Festival 2/2019 on New Elementary. It began with simple bridge technique and grew into reasonably large, vertical minifig-scale creation. As before, shorter version of the text was published earlier on New Elementary. Thanks Tim, thanks Elspeth!

Sometimes the base bulk of a creation stays almost the same while the concept changes completely. This creation began with the idea of a bridge made of “Panels 1 x 6 x 4 1/3 with Window and 4 Pin Holes”. I had never seen this piece before, and it took a while to find it from Brickset’s new parts browser. It has been used in some City space exploration sets; this isn’t surprising. They have a hole in the middle that had very odd shape, as the TECHNIC holes form sort of bumps in the frame. I though of making an arch and putting those panels around it so that they would adapt into the natural shape. 

The first idea had an arch made of rigid hose or ribbed tube, but it turned out to be very hard to make stabile structure enough with them; bending them creates some forces that push the cliff faces apart. I though about making a cloud between the  cliffs to hold them together, giving image of very high location, but I didn’t have enough pieces available for such high cliffs and a cloud hanging in between would have made the bridge bit confusing – LEGO clouds tent to feel too substantial. In the end I ended up making a SNOT water base - I feel I made lot of those around 9 years ago – and somewhat high cliffs. I also build an actual, solid bridge inside the panels, with different surfaces holding the panels on different heighs: studs, tiles, tiles on sides… The steps are bigger near the ends and around 1/3 a plate near the middle.

After making the water, the cliffs and the bridge I had to define the scene. This turned out to be harder than expected. The build is in minifig scale. I don’t to much things in minifig scale, except for my modular buildings from turn of the 20th century. But I used to collect cool minifig parts and thus I have lot of goodies to work with. I made some figs, using lot of Batman greeble parts in their accessories. I had a band of dwarves and some magical pilgrims. The idea was that the wizards wanted to cross the bridge, but it was dwarf territory and they were grumpy about the intruders. I tried different compositions of figs, but it just didn’t fly. The scale of the figs was so small compared to the bridge that they felt like puny add-ons (at least on character builder’s perspective), like some frosting on a cake. The scene needed a strong vertical element to go with the technical, horizontal element, the bridge.

I ended up building a mythological dragon serpent and giving the scene oriental feel. It is connected to a build titled “Gale Serpent Arises” from 2016; it was built for my LUG Palikkatakomo’s summer contest. In that scene a monk encounters a dragon that rises from a black pool in shrine-filled moorland. What I was thinking here felt similar, and I quite liked the connection, so I went with similar style, mix of CCBS and SYSTEM parts. A defining quality would be the medium azure shepherd staves. I hadn’t used them yet, and dragon moustache had been one of my first ideas, so medium azure would be one colour; it’s a very nice shade. White went well with it, hinting to ice theme. 
I had plenty of 5-long CCBS bones in medium azure and small shell pieces in white, so the made most of the serpent. Its structure is very homogenous: There are no thicker or thinner parts. It feels a bit unrealistic in a way, but I like the way that it suggests that there’s no clue how long it actually is; are we meeting only the tip of the iceberg? Hockey sticks were added on the back as they reminded fish bones. The underside technique with small L-panels and boat studs is probably stolen from Patrick Biggs.

Building the head of the dragon was a nice challenge. I wanted it to be bit like the gale serpent’s head, but not a copy. The mouth is similar with its boat stud lower jaw, and bright green teeth worked nicely with the colours. Big nostrils and small but angled connection to the moustache were essential. As a defining part I used ice armour piece from Bionicle set Strakk; it created nice brow while fitting the colour scheme and ice theme. I posed the serpent so that it circles around the bridge, guarding the pass. It’s not openly hostile towards the travelling warrior, who bows respectfully between the shrine posts, while still holding her sword. There’s a tension between the characters, and that was something I quite couldn’t achieve with only the figs.

With the new scene, the landscape went through couple of changes. I build two shrines that use another seed parts, 3x3 domes, and added more foliage to define the path leading to the bridge. Reddish brown randomly arranged plates were used to balance the colours. I also ended up making the bridge smooth with cheese slopes and 1x2 tiles. I was unsure about it at first, as I wanted the bridge to feel like it would be made of one material – not build, just formed from the cliff itself. In the end, the tiles surface captures that better. It also made the shape rounder. The flat area on it, the pathway, is also two studs wide, so it’s very oppressive bridge to cross, dragon or not. Don’t slip!



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