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Sculptor reveals how Total Warhammer Dread Saurian was born

Former Games Workshop sculptor Trish Carden reveals how she built the Dread Saurian, the apex unit for the Total War: Warhammer Lizardmen

Total War Warhammer 3 Dread Saurian - screenshot of the Dread Saurian, a vast crocodilian monster, from the game Total War: Warhammer 2

The Dread Saurian – most famous as the colossal centrepiece unit for the Lizardmen in Total War: Warhammer 3 – began life as a gnarly pink sculpture. Pro model maker Trish Carden sculpted the monster when she worked for Forge World, Games Workshop’s specialist model studio, and explained the process of bringing the beast to life on her Facebook fan page on Wednesday.


Carden created concept sketches for the beast, then “an actual size mock up” from pink Sculpey, a fairly soft modelling clay that cures hard when heated. The final version of the beast was sculpted from Firm Grey Sculpey. She used home-made texture stamps to create the scales and skin on the monster, and its huge spikes were made from “set wood putty, glued into place”.

The Aztec-inspired bling adorning the reptilian creature was crafted separately. Each piece of jewellery started with a base of thick polyurethane plastic sheet, with borders made from plasticard, a thin styrene that can be bought in strips or sheets from modelling suppliers.

Carden then added “a layer of putty within the borders where I could incise the patterns”. Rivets were made from “Sculpey balls with a tube pressed over the top to round them down”, while half-pearl ornaments simply came from a craft shop.

Baking these elaborate decorations in an oven to cure the Sculpey would have melted the plasticard they contained, so Carden “took a heat gun set to a fairly low temperature and wafted it over the surface until the Sculpey was set” well enough to survive the process of mould creation. You can check out Carden’s full recap of the process on her official Facebook page.

Total War Warhammer 3 Dread Saurian - model photograph by Games Workshop of a painted Dread Saurian model, a huge crocodilian dinosaur adorned with gold ornaments

The Dread Saurian was available from the Forge World website until fairly recently, but it appears to have passed into history and is no longer available. Moulds for casting resin models wear through comparatively quickly, and companies may decide not to create a new mould if they don’t think there is much demand for a model any longer.

Unless GW announces a plastic Dread Saurian out of nowhere – maybe for the eventual release of Warhammer: The Old World – your only way to get your hands on this beast is in Total War: Warhammer II (or the Immortal Empires mode for Total War: Warhammer III). Fortunately, that’s still one of the best Total War games, and one of the best Warhammer fantasy videogames, full stop.

The Lizardmen were one of the only factions to survive the destruction of the Old World, the magical Slann Mage Priests shooting off into space and then dreaming their servants back into existence as the Seraphon Age of Sigmar army. GW has previewed several new and updated models for the Seraphon range, including feathery dino-riders, a new Astrolith bearer, and a chunky update to the fire-spitting salamanders.

Trish Carden worked at Games Workshop for several decades and carved out an identity as the mother of monsters, sculpting under the name Trish Morrison. She now sculpts the Harrowhyrst range of monsters in her classic Oldhammer style, available from Footsore Miniatures.