- Materials we need
- Summoning the Elven Behemoth
- Basing and painting
- Adding detail
- Final words
If you were an Elf standing on the battlefield, you would probably see a lot of big things on the opposing side. It might be trolls, giants, war elephants, summoned earth golems or abominable beings from an alien dimensional plane. Who or what would have the power to repel these minions of evil?
Nature, of course! If there is one race that is deeply connected to it, it is the elves. In times of danger, the spirits of nature would not hesitate to fight and protect. So on the battlefield, for the Elven side, one manifestation of “big things” would likely be a plant being. The oldest of forests grew over dozens of millennia and no one can really tell how deep and far their roots reach. At virtually any place, the earth could break open and give way to a being made from entwined roots. Swinging its long arms through the enemy ranks like a whip, it would be a formidable force and bring terror to the evil forces.
In this tutorial, we will have a look at how to craft a simple 3mm miniature of an Elven Behemoth.
Materials we need
- A base (i use 40x40mm MDF)
- PVA glue
- Crafting or floral wire (i used 0,85mm thick crafting wire)
- Pincer and pliers
- Sand and fine gravel
- Acrylic paints
Summoning the Elven Behemoth
Wire for the body and tentacles
I cut a few wires to about 8cm in length for my 40x40mm bases. If you use other base sizes or want the Behemoth to be smaller or bigger, you can use other dimensions of course.
Next line up all wires properly so their ends do not overhang. Put the ends either in a screw clamp or hold it firm with a pair of pliers. Now you can easily twist the wires either by hand (i recommend wearing protective gloves, these wires are quite pointy) or using another pair of pliers.
Often people use an electric screwdriver to twist wires, but i do not recommend this. We are looking for a natural and random twisting. Using a machine, the pattern would be too clean for something organic. Also with using a machine, if the wires snap, they will whip around and have good potential to injure. Hence i tend to avoid this technique.
If you also want roots to break through the ground around the Behemoth, you additionally need shorter wires of 2-3cm length. For variety, you could also twist two or three of the shorter wires.
Shaping the main body
Next give the Behemoth a basic shape by bending the twisted wires with the pliers. A good method is to take a single wire and bend it into a posture you think will work fine. Then resemble this posture with the twisted strand of wires. Put it on the base every now and then to see how it works.
Detailing the ends
Once you are satisfied with the basic posture, take your pliers and untwist both ends. For the lower end i untwisted about one centimeter and bent the wires so the Behemoth could stand on it. Shaping these wires in a star-like formation should give good stability when gluing it down later. For the upper part untwist to your liking. I went with about 2 cm. You can use the tip of your pliers to give these tentacle-like roots narrow bends. With the same technique, you can also bend the smaller separate tentacles. For these leave about 0,5 – 1cm straight for gluing, then do a 90 degree bend for the tentacle part itself. Telling from my attempts i can tell it takes a bit of practice to get nice results here. Don’t be afraid to build a few prototype Behemoth just for the purpose of practicing.
Defining the head part
Having shaped the Behemoth to your liking, now have a look and decide where you would like to have the “head”. The technique i used works best when the tentacles taper out gently from the body, forming a funnel.
Load an old brush with PVA glue and carefully fill the funnel from all sides. Extend the head part down the body to your liking.
At this stage you could also, if desired, add to the head by sprinkling small amounts of fine sand on the PVA. Later this could be dry brushed for extra surface detail. If you want to go really fancy, you could also stick one of your command single miniatures on the head. This way you can create a mounted general, hero or even mage riding a Behemoth!
As the drop of PVA will be relatively big, let it dry well. At least a few hours or better over night. I found it quite useful to put the behemoth “upside down” at this point. The part that would be the “mouth” would be sitting on the ground. This way the PVA can flow from the body down to the mouth and settle nicely between the tentacles. For the first 30 minutes or so you can check every few minutes and see if you like the shape of the drop. If the PVA is flowing too much in one direction, turn the behemoth around for a few minutes.
Basing and painting
Mounting the miniature
Once the PVA is completely dried, you can arrange the miniature on the base. Note how the PVA dried transparent.
Put it the way you like and check for the “feet” to nicely snug to the base. If needed, correct. Once satisfied, use a few drops of superglue to attach the miniature to the base.
After letting the superglue dry, we can add the structure paste.
The structure paste
The structure paste is a mixture of acrylic paint, PVA and some sand and fine gravel. I chose a grey acrylic paint for rocky ground but you could also use a brown tone for earth or yellow if you want a desert theme. It really depends on what terrain you plan to represent.
The acrylic paint will act as a base for our mixture while also giving a basic color. The PVA is added to keep everything together and harden the material once tried. Sand and gravel will help to form a durable surface with lots of detail we can highlight later. The mixture really depends on how viscous your paint and PVA are and how much sand and gravel you prefer. Aim for a paste with a thick, creamy texture and adding enough PVA.
It is a good idea to try small amounts of different mixtures first, note down the rough ratio and simply do some test bases without adding miniatures. Once dry, you can try to bend the base a bit, rub it and drop it to the floor to test if it is durable. It takes a bit of experience to find a good mixture. If your paste does not stick too well, try to add little scratches to the base. A rough surface will help with sticking.
While starting to apply the paste, i also decided i wanted some more detail on the base. So i took a small stone from the materials i gathered over time and glued it to the base. Then applied some paste to it as well.
Washing and dry brushing the ground
For the next step, we need to prepare our wash first. The wash will be applied to the whole base (hence the term ‘washing’) and flow into all the recesses and lower parts. This will give depth to the base and define the structure.
Preparing and applying the wash
To prepare the wash, take an empty bottle or other suitable vessel (preferably with a lid). Add a dark shade of your base color. Now add a few drops of Isopropanol. This will break the surface tension of the mixture and help with easy flowing and even distribution of the color. Now add water until you got a satisfying mixture of milk like texture. Again, a bit of experience is needed for the right ratio and it is a good idea to test the wash with your test bases. While drying, the wash will start to look different and lighten up. So give it an hour or so to check for the results.
Once you are satisfied with your wash, start to carefully apply it to your base and let it dry well. It is a good idea to put the base on a flat, even surface so the wash does not gather in one corner.
Drybrushing the base
To lighten up the raised parts of the surface, we will drybrush the base. Take a lighter shade of your base color and apply a small amount to a flat brush. Then wipe it on a paper towel to remove most of the color. Now, with the dry brush, gently go over the surface. The color should only stick to the most elevated parts of the surface and give a nice highlight.
Painting the miniature
First, pick a nice brown color for the base coat. This should be a mid-tone as we will add a dark wash later and drybrush with a light tone. Carefully paint the behemoth with a thin layer so the details do not get clogged with color.
Once dry, mix a dark-tone of your base color with some Isopropanol to break surface tension. This will be the wash for the miniature itself. Turn your base upside down and start to apply some wash from where the miniature sits on the base. The wash will nicely run along all the deeper parts and flow towards the head. Work along the miniature to distribute the wash evenly. If there is excess gathering along the head, pick it up with a dry brush or piece of paper towel. Your miniature should be a bit darker then your base color now with all the recesses and deep parts darkened by the wash.
After letting the wash dry, we can highlight the miniature. Same procedure as highlighting the structure of the base: take a flat brush, load it with a bit of light-tone of your base color and wipe off most on a paper towel. Now carefully go over the elevated parts of the miniature to highlight these parts.
After finishing the miniature, you can add any detail to the base and miniature. This can be a variety of turfs, flocks or bushes, maybe even trees.
This is completely to your liking and theme you imagine for your armies. The theme could be wide flat grasslands, dotted with small bushes. A forest setting with lots of vegetation and trees. Maybe an arid landscape with cracked ground dry as bone and just some rare plants scattered. Other options would be a freezing cold winter theme with snow and frozen puddles or hot volcanic ground with veins of lava. Possibilities are virtually endless.
As i decided for a cavern theme with light emitting crystals and forests of huge fungus, i applied some green turfs to mimic moss and added some giant mushrooms.
Do not forget to paint the edges of your base. I prefer a simple black, which gives an elegant finish. Depending on your theme you could also use an earthen brown or grass green edge though.
Once satisfied and everything had time to dry well, do not forget to apply varnish to the whole base. One or two thin coats of matt varnish will protect the miniature and also details like the turfs.
Hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial as much as i had putting it together. If you plan to build some yourself, i hope the article is helpful. Feel free to let me know in the comments how it went!
I had lots of fun building these four Root Behemoth and think they will be a nice addition to my Elven Army.