There are a number of iconic monsters in the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse. Few are as iconic as the beholder. Whilst many miniatures may be used fairly frequently, the Beholder is one that arguably is to be used sparingly, with menace.
Beholders are truly terrifying monsters, bizarre and alien. They are classed as aberrations for good reasons and as a DM, if you want a fear factor in your gaming, then consider using a beholder, or its undead variant the Death Tyrant, in your tabletop games.
Using miniatures is as useful in modern roleplaying games and tabletop wargaming as it has always been. It gives both a visual and tactile element to playing and you get the chance to paint the miniatures, which for me I find quite therapeutic.
This model from the D&D Nolzur’s Marvellous Unpainted Miniatures range is a great imposing figure. An asset to any fantasy miniature collection. Miniatures have come a long way since the 1980s when I started collecting. Back then early models of beholders were rather timid and small by comparison. Now with improved size and detail, the impressive beholder shows how far models have developed with the attention to detail and greater scope to personalise your miniature through your painting scheme.
For my beholder miniature I have chosen a rather cold colour scheme, mainly using blues and purples. The model comes pre-primed, which is helpful and a set of four additional eye stalks with magical effects emanating from them to use in place of four eye stalks which are loose from the head. Personally, I’m happy with the standard eye stalks, but it’s good that you have alternative eye stalks as an option.
Not only do I think the miniature looks great and is very imposing, but it feels chunky and well made. When I painted mine, it felt sturdy in my hand when painting in long stints. Now if I put this model on a map, it has a great presence with the large central eye and gaping maw.
It may seem old school with modern online map tools and VTT gaming and online gaming brings a lot to the table, with the convenience, the quality of maps and the fog of war created. But sometimes you just can’t beat the old school miniatures on a map experience. These classic, iconic monsters look great anyway even simply as display models, but using them adds another dimension to play, helping players to visualise an encounter.
Before I began painting, I had decided on my colour scheme. I wanted to create a layered effect so to begin with I started with a deep aquamarine and lightly painted over the core body. I was careful not to paint too heavily and cover any detail. Once this was done, I went over this with another layer, being lighter in shade and then applied a blue inkwash to seep into the crack between the scales and darken patches. After this, I then applied the top layer, which was a very pale, almost white shade to add highlights.
I worked on the central eye next trying to create an off-white effect for the eyeball and ensure there was some detail in the iris. Then I worked on the mouth which used different shades of purple with a violet inkwash and black for the back of the mouth. For the teeth I used off-white shades – Citadels Ushabti Bone, with a little Agrax Earthshade inkwash, and then Screaming Skull layer on top.
Finally, I began work on the eye stalks. I kept to the standard eye stalks rather than use the alternatives, and I wanted to mainly use a purple shade with blue at the base to create an organic change in shade. The eyes used an off-white and for the pupils I dipped the end of a brush into black to help create a clear round mark. Once dry, I marked each pupil with a fingernail to create a light mark, to give a sense of direction and focus for vision. The original unpainted model is impressive enough, but I really enjoyed painting this model and the result is more impressive for its colour.
For anyone contemplating buying this miniature, I would recommend it. It’s a solid model. The price is very good for what you get, especially these days with some miniatures being quite expensive. Don’t think you are getting shortchanged with quality as you are not. The quality is good and it is larger than typical medium sized creatures.
For painting, if you feel that this model is rather intimidating, consider the following process for the Beholder. Think of a colour scheme which includes different layers and shades, with inkwashes for the cracks and light colours for highlights and to help bring out depth. Take your time and if necessary, get inspiration from examples of painted versions. However you paint it, I’m sure you will enjoy this addition to your miniature collection.