Tutorial: How to create stalagmites / stalactites

by Massive Voodoo

Good Monday Morning Jungle people,

everyone likes caves, who doesn´t? So it was no surprise for the jungle that the cave tutorial won during the last tutorial voting against the weird Dragon Priest.

They offer a very nice, dark scenery for our miniatures. Especially flowstone caves are incredible. Today Peter and Roman will show you two different approaches towards creating stalagmites and stalactites for your bases!


Peter says:

Some weeks ago I started with my project for the Duke of Baravia: Theseus´ Destiny. I have always loved the tale of the Minotaur and Theseus, both wandering in the legendary labyrinth on Crete, just to finally meet in an epic struggle for survival. If I see an interpretation of this tale in our hobby the labyrinth is often a temple or something similar. But I wanted something more "realistic". In my vision it´s a big, dark cave with only a few human influences. While doing some research for the project I thought about creating a flowstone cave. It should offer the perfect atmosphere, but I´ll talk about this in a separate step by step.

Ok, stalagmites and stalactites, they are the key... but how should I make them? How to get this very special, smooth shape? As I´m a lazy guy, I knew for sure I would get crazy while modelling them with putty. I thought about using glue. But the first approaches were not very promising. 

While I was working on the base during one of Roman´s classes, one of the attendants showed me some of his bases he had done with an acrylic gel. It took only a few tests with this gel (he sold it to me for a fair price) and I had a nice ways to create my flowstone cave.

This is what you need:

Acrylic Soft Gel (e.g. by Schmincke, should work with every other company, too): 
Link to Boesner Online Shop

Syringe + hollow needle:
To get one, ask your doctor the next time you have to pay him a visit or check ebay.

As most of you know, the needle has a very sharp edged tip (that´s why we all hate them). But most important this tip is angular. While testing I realised that a "plain" tip helps you a lot in controlling the acrylic gel. So, I simply cut the tip off. Be careful while doing this! There are also different sizes. The bigger, the better. I got mine from my dad (a vet) and this needle is usually used for cow.

Now let´s play doctor games!
1) Fill the gel in into the syringe.

2) While gently pushing the back of the syringe, slowly move it upwards. You´ll notice the gel will keep the shape, as long as you don´t move to fast. So, patience and a calm hand is needed. After a few tries you´ll manage it.

3) Clean the injector immediatly after using it! Water is enough, no chemicals needed.

4)  At first, the gel is pure white and it takes about 24 hours to completely dry out. The bigger your flowstone will be, the longer it takes :) While drying the gel loses about 1/3 of its volume.
A few moments after appliing

24 hours later
5) If you like to have bigger flowstones, I recommend creating them in two or three steps. Just apply some of the gel and let it dry. After some hours you can add a new layer:

6) If you like to create stalagmites (those on the cave´s ceiling) it´s no big deal. The gel won´t flow down. It keeps the shape.

7) Important: before priming it, I´ll recommend covering the flowstone with super glue! As I realized while working on Theseus´ Destiny the acrylic gel will always stay a bit flexible. This can be very annoying while painting it.

Let´s start painting!

Flowstone caves have very a lot of intersting colors. I´ll recommend to use Google to get a lot of inspiration:


In my opinion it´s very hard to achieve this variety of colors by just using the technique of layering. You´ll get crazy with it. So, I used a special technique, called "wet in wet". Roman did a very cool video about this technique some years ago. Even if the video is about painting a complete base, it´s should help you see the technique used and get an idea of what I am talking about. Click here!


Roman says:

I really enjoyed Peter's approach on his flowstone cave and while we talked about the article he'll write I thought about giving this another try from a different angle. Maybe it works with Milliput too.

So I started to mix Milliput, standard yellow 50/50 and formed small balls from it.
Different in seize, but I tried to keep them round.

Next I used a drop of superglue to place one of the bigger balls to the wooden socket.
I did this, to prevent the Putty from its withdrawal on the wood. Press it down, now.

Now it is fun. Take many of those balls and press them on top of the lower ones. Try aiming to take the smaller ones for the top. No superglue needed this time, just pushing them on top of eachother.

The following step took the rest of Milliput that I had left over to create "Milliput-Juice", like you do for filling gaps while preparing a miniature.

Article showing you an easy way on how you can fill gaps after building your model.
I used an old brush to pull the "Milliput-Juice" on top of the prepared stones. I tried to do my movement from the top to the lower area. Not the other way and here and there did add more pressure to my strokes to create a smoother surface. After the "Milliput-Juice" was dry (which dries pretty fast or you use the hairblower to save time) I did it again, but now I sometimes used my fingers, made them a little wet with spit and reformed the shape of the tips. You can repeat those steps as long as you like to achieve even smoother surfaces.
Last Step was letting the juice dry. Now you can cut them stones off the working plinth, carve them more if you like or just leave them like that and place them to your base.
Now have fun with your cave!

We hope you enjoyed the article. If any questions appear just drop them via comment and we will be happy to help. Let us know your thoughts, oppinions or ideas.

Your MV-Team


There are 3 Kommentare for Tutorial: How to create stalagmites / stalactites

Post a Comment