Thursday 27 May 2021

Otherworld Wood Elves

A look at some concept art for Otherworld Miniatures Wood Elves. 

The initial brief from Richard at Otherworld was for three figures of a small patrol band, armed with Spear, Bow and Sword and lightly armoured, (not entirely coincidently as the Elf entry arms them in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual) referencing Jes Goodwins 1980s Elves for Citadel Miniatures, especially the ME31 Wood Elves, Angus McBrides artwork for Iron Crown Enterprises Middle Earth Roleplaying and some other classic fantasy imagery, alongside Otherworlds established 'at ready' poses.

Being less than half a Brandybuck and something of a Gamgee, I've always loved Elves. My first Warhammer army was built around Goodwins Scarloc's Wood Elf Archers, so the theme was close to my heart. In keeping with the Otherworld range, I wanted to slightly update the look, keeping a lot of the 1980s design cues but updating the aesthetic, emphasising the fay-ness alongside the elves traditional connection to nature. It was also an opportunity to draw on some other Elvish influences, such as Moorcocks Vadhagh, and Tolkiens (being the creator of the contemporary fantasy Elf, after all) professed love of the Arts and Crafts movement and give them something of romantic 'celtic' air, clearly belonging to a culture grounded in the decorative arts while keeping them earthy and practical fighting types.

After some initial sketches and discussion, pencilled and inked drawings of three elves.

Wood Elf Inks

The inked drawings were then scanned into the computer, re-arranged slightly and prep'd with titles.
Wood Elf Swordsman

The swordsman, slightly approaching. Probably the most 'noble' of the three, with ornate studded leather armour. The jewelled cloak brooch, that might be reminiscent of Fëanor, the smooth, round jewel motif that I think emerged with Robert Goulds early 80s depictions of Elric of Melniboné, and carried right through by Goodwin into the 80s elves and into the wraithstones of the Space Elves or Eldar of 40k. It also echoes the Otherworld FA6 Ranger, suggesting perhaps a Stone of Eärendil and marking him out as an elf-friend. The leaf-shaped sword bronze-age design, and La-Tene influenced shield historically grounds him, and early-medievalism of arts-and-crafts. A grim, stern character. 

Wood Elf Spearman

Spearman, standing at ease, shield slung over his shoulder. A slightly younger, less experienced fellow. Leaf-shaped spear-head and decorative tooled leather knife sheath and wineskin, subtly referencing the elven carousing of the Mirkwood Elves in The Hobbit. Yes, Elfquest fans, he will have red hair when I get round to painting him...

Wood Elf Archer

Archer, readying bow, probably a game hunter brought along on patrol for practical purposes. The folklore of Elf-Shot, carrying over the tooled leatherwork, cloak and tunic of the other characters. Resisted the urge to make the bow overly ornate reflex curve but keep his shortbow a bit naturalistic and wild - suitable for hunting small game in woodlands.

Once the three drawings were completed, and cleaned up they were passed over to Paul Muller to base the sculpting of the miniatures on.

And now, in time-homoured Zhu Industries tradition, a few quick photos of the bare models, hastily stuck together with blue-tac in black and white.

Wood Elf Bowman

Wood Elf Spearman

Wood Elf Swordsman

As you'd expect, the models are crisp clean casts, with no flash or mouldlines at all. Paul Muller has done an extraordinary job of bringing the characters to life, capturing the weird slightly alien look that elves should have, and heroically translating the detail into more than serviceable form.

Plus, if you purchase several sets, with a little modelling skill and imagination the swordsmans round shield and spearmans leaf-shaped shield can be swapped repositioned and mixed and matched to create a little variety and form up a neat little warband for Frostgrave (Frostglade?) or a larger encounter group for Dungeons & Dragons.

Wood Elf Spearman 1

Wood Elf Swordsman 2

Wood Elf Patrol

Wood Elf Patrol ready to harass anyone foolhardy enough to accidentally step over the boundaries of their forested domain,  allow a merchant caravan safe passage though secret woodland trails for a tithe, clear out an encampment of goblin mushroom foragers, or arrest some dwarven lumberjacks for illicit log poaching and picnic interrupting.

And finally, here they are in glorious technicolour, expertly painted by Andrew Taylor:

WE40 Wood Elves

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this look 'behind the scenes' and like the final miniatures. The WE40 Wood Elves available from Otherworld Miniatures priced £14 for the set of 3.