A friend of mine had a great idea the other day; put your little dragons on a background that's not-black. Like, gold or copper or something. So, I did!
Another of my small leather half masks with the dragon figure carved freehand on it. I used a textured tool to emboss the edge of the dragon (instead of the smooth beveler that I usually use when I do these on black) because I knew the textured edge would add more contrast. It takes a bit longer but I like the effect.
I got the burnished gold look by drybrushing bright gold acrylic paint over a brown background. I painted the entire dragon first, with Liquitex acrylics, carefully leaving the background untouched. Then, I did a layer of transparent acrylic antique stain (medium brown) over the whole thing. The stain wipes off of painted surfaces, only staying in the tooling to add contrast, but it stains the unpainted portion a nice rich brown. The gold, drybrushed over that brown, has a rich, textured, burnished look.
And that's how I do it!
This mask is available right now in my Etsy shop: [link]