Hobby Focus: Adding more to your metals

Blood Angels Dante

I stole this image from the Heroes of Armageddon blog the other day. It's Tom Shadle's contribution to the Blood Angels army.

Here's the Heroes of Armageddon blog to see more pics of this guy and donate to the cause. You could win this guy and the whole army he goes with!

The reason I picked this though was for the attention to the metal areas. It's a NMM approach. I think so many of us (me included for sure) use metallic paint as a way of accomplishing a couple things when it comes to painting metal areas.

1. Get it done quickly.
2. Get fairly decent results with little real work.
3. Because we can get away without having to do much more to the metal.

And that brings me to the point here. By using a metallic paint and a wash, most all of the work is done and most of us don't go much further with our highlights and shading on the metal areas. In the case of NMM, you don't have this luxury. You have to put all of it on there and you have to understand how the metal interacts with it's environment to pull it off well.

That can be a huge undertaking and not really practical for most of us. So what about blending the two methods? What happens if we use our metallic paint, add our quick wash and then go back and maybe use a black, dark blue or dark grey to reinforce the shadow edge of a blade and then use white or bright silver to create a highlight?

Would adding that extra step really make our "simple" metallic paint pop more? I've tried it before and have had good success with it, it's just not something I think to do each time I have a nice metallic area on a model to paint.

Maybe it doesn't take painting in full NMM, maybe it's just an understanding of highlighting (that most of already have mastered) and then reminding ourselves to do as much work on our metallic areas as we do on the rest of our models.

As a side note, I didn't realize I'd get such a great response to my posting of discovering GW's Boltgun Metal paint the other day. Part of the discussion from over there was about using metallics, different brands and some techniques. Here's some of it...

Related links and Additional Content from comments:
1. Vallejo Model Air metallics
2. Reaper Pro Series Metallics
3. Tin Bitz works really well as an aged copper, a bit of dwarf bronze for highlights and wear then a very thinned hawk turquoise as a wash.
4. Tin Bitz for that dirty look, but if you really want a nice base for darker, dirtier metals, RMS Scorched Metal will make you smile.
5. Some Iron Warriors done with GW Boltgun Metal.
6. Insert a bearing ball into the paint pots you regularly use, they are most needed in metalics - the metal pigment is insoluble suspension which needs to be thoroughly disturbed to be consistent.

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!


  1. I understand that the type of thing you are describing is known as "Real Metallic Metals". The idea is to use NMM techniques (or a combination of them) with actual metallic paints in order to create a more realistic look.

    The thing I'm sure you will agree with is that NMM always photographs well, but I think that it doesn't always stand out enough in the flesh, and as such doesn't always have the same punch for tabletop miniatures (as opposed to display pieces).

    In your last post I chatted a little bit about using Charadon Granite as a base for Boltgun Metal. It is the first time I have used a non metallic paint as a base for a metallic one and I must say that I was pleasently suprised with the results.

    You can see a few WIP shots here.

    The muted recesses are a great and (IMO rather realistic) touch to the boltgun metal. For me it is more successful than simply shading the BGM to make it just a slightly darker tone... because in reality metals are often more muted when in shade because light doesn't reflect from them as much!

    I plan on doing several further stages to the metal (and the Hades pictured in the link), trying out some forge world-esque techniques to hopefully get a realistic looking finish. I will keep you updated if you are interested.

  2. I'd be really quite interesting to see a step-by-step of that technique your refer to about using metallics and some of the processes from NMM, it sounds interesting and perhaps a nice stepping-stone into full NMM.

  3. oink: Thanks for letting me know it has a "name." I rather like the idea of using metallics and combining that with NMM approaches.

    I definitely agree NMM photographs well and looks best under controlled lighting conditions which are not always present in the old game store.

    Andy - bG: I'm working on that right now and will have somerthing to post up next week.

  4. Cheers Ron, looking forward to it.

  5. Hey Ron!

    Wanted to drop in that for the past couple years, Mathieu Fontaine has been teaching a class on this exact technique at Adepticon in Chicago. I didn't get to take it this past year, so I'm really looking forward to your article on it!

    I'm not sure if I'd put a ball bearing in the metallic paint pot... even if it's a regularly used one... You'll always get paint that dries in the pot a bit, and that ball bearing will actually scrape and kock that dry paint loose in your pot as you agitate it... leaving you with chunks and flakes of dry paint mixed in with your good paint. bit of a pain at times.

    - Tim

  6. @Tim: Using an intermediary - like a disposable plastic plate it's easy to avoid the little bits - I always keep a hygienic tissue nearby to get rid of any bit that got stick to the brush.

    I find the intermediary necessary because getting paint straight from the container it's hard to control the amount of paint on the brush.

  7. It always looks bad when painters try to do NMM to a table top standard on gaming minis. Just use metallics! NMM can look amazing, but only when you really put the time and effort into it.

    Ball bearings are metal right? Those will oxidize. Use a glass bead or piece of stone maybe.

  8. @lehcyfer: Good tip :) I use a wet palette for my intermediary as it helps to give the paint that liiiiittle bit of thinning for me without worrying about doing it manually. Honestly, it's more of an annoyance thing for me more than anything else... and truly one I've only dealt with in the Reaper line, where the little skulls in the bottles that act as agitators only served to clog my dropper :P perhaps with paint pots I won't encounter that!!

    Thanks :)


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