The horns were not prebaked. In hindsight, this had some good points and drawbacks. It allowed me to toy around with them a lot and try to get the angles just "so" that it read well from multiple angles, and it also allowed me to uniformly detail him once the main structure of him was completed (I enjoyed adding "battle damage" and making it look like a worn creature rather than a "pristine" dragon).
Along the way, however, the horns did indeed need wires to support them since I was aiming for such a specific pose. The bad side? I hadn't originally planned it to be so, so at first there was more of little "scraps" of wire in the horns, and then after awhile I would add a bit more, and then a bit more wire and well... that didn't work well at all. Somewhere in there I eventually realized there shouldn't be multiple wires in each horn, and so I surgically cut into them and replaced the scraps of multiple wires with just one.
Still though: since I hadn't planned to use wires in there, the wires did not physically attach to any of the underlying "lump" of an armature (which was more like a rounded ball on a stick, to be entirely honest), so it took quite a bit of work to try and figure out how to "secure" the armature wire on the horns to basically: wet clay. Somehow I managed it, though, and from this piece I definitely learned the importance of preplanning a solid armature BEFORE sculpting. These two are examples of that new knowledge: [link]
Because Deathwing was, for the most part, a giant lump of clay suspended in the air, I later ended up adding in bits of wire here and there to try and help support him in key areas that I overlooked to begin with: I added wires along the plates in his back (or else they would sag), in the horns, and one loop around the underside of his top jaw so it wouldn't sag.
The back-plates were carved out of the primary mass, as were the plates along his chest. The scales on the side were a mix of carving and adding clay, but none of it was pre-baked other than the lower jaw (which I did more so because I wasn't convinced I could easily access the underside if it was on the figure).
And goodness! Do keep working! I very rarely sculpted before this! I have a few things I consider "terrible" that are stored on my Hard Drives somewhere, but before this piece, the only "full" sculpt I'd really done was: [link]
and before that (which was years and years ago), I was just doing these: [link]
What I view as my huge jumps in progress through even those three pieces was simply because I kept pushing myself, observing, and experimenting. I spent far more time on "Deathwing" than I had on possibly any other piece of art I'd done because I wanted to see what I was capable of, and I just... kept going.
In all sincerity, if you'd asked me a couple years ago if I was capable of doing this, my answer would have been "hahaha No!" But sometimes I guess we even surprise ourselves.
One of the things that I think it neat about the process of this piece is I had no idea he would turn out as good as he did, so I have lots and lots of photos of the beginning "derpy" stages that are rather embarrassing, and I'm glad I stuck it out. I really do look forward to sharing those as a walk through because I hope people can learn from what I did (mistakes and all), and to further inspire them to keep going with their own art.
Thank you again for all your encouragement! It really means a lot to me!