Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
ixminis

Nmm - why such high contrast?

Recommended Posts

Greetings,

 

I was wondering if anyone had an opinion on why/how/where the trend of putting really high brightness/contrast into sword/dagger blades came from?  I have an intentional tendency to NOT do this as most blades I've handled and seen in pictorial references have much less highlighting.

 

I suppose most characters are gonna eventually going to end up with a magical blade.... but do they all have to glow?

 

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd guess it comes from the prevailing tendency to grossly exaggerate *all* highlights on a miniature, making it look like a neon-coloured piece of candy... sure, one painted with XXX-treme highlights might be very visible on the tabletop, but I for one prefer more subtle colour variations. After all, a human wearing black clothes IRL is mostly a black blob at 50 meters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Higher contrasts are used for a number of reasons - all are based upon my experiences, but YMMV:

 

* Easier photography - sometimes the highlights disappear during shooting.

* Easier for the viewer to make out the detail - an important factor when figures are being judged or used for advertisement/promotional stuff

* Often strong light will reflect in a band or on the upper ridges of folds of clothing in such a way that the area appears to be white (and usually with a strong seperation (less transition area).

* Miniatures, being smaller in size, have less area to fully bring the transition from full shadow to brightest highligh - thus stronger contrasts.

* With metals some artists want a noticeable sheen or light reflection represented on the blade.  With NMM this is used more often so as to trick the viewer's eye/mind into intrepreting it as metallic; as a more reflective surface than other material.

 

Just a few thoughts off the top of my head.  Muted or subtle color variations tend to hide the detail of the miniature at times.  I've done camoflage patterns on historical figures and actually ended up with just the outline of miniature being descernable from 2 feet plus unless strong light is used.  More realistic, but less desireable for some uses.

 

I'm sure there are other reasons too, or that my reasons may be full of it. :)  The fact that many award winning pieces are bright and high contrast probably figures in there as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The reason the highlights are so dramatic on swords and other such metallic brik-a-brak is because the painter is trying to imitate the reflective qualities of the metal. When light shines on something reflective, it usually comes back white, or tinted with the surrounding colors on occasion.

 

Also, lately there seems to be a trend towards over-dramatic highlights and shadows when painting miniatures. I attribute this to the professional painters who paint for companies. The company will usually want over dramatic paint jobs to cleanly show off the detail of the miniatures they are trying to sell.

 

Dang, Oracle beat me to it, and his reasons are better...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One reason is because you do not want a NMM sword to look like it was made of stone. Shading in NMM is a lot different to just simply painting the edges in a lighter colour.

 

Oracle is spot on with his answer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for the answers so far.....  Now for the hard part:  Could someone find me some URL's for real swords that are reflecting this way?

 

So far, I've found one image (out of 30 decent pictures) that has reflection similar to that which is popular.  The problem is that this image is CGI... The rest of the images look like the whole blade is:

 

a. White

b. Light Gray & White (stonelike)

c. dark gray & slightly lighter gray (stonelike again)

 

In other words, real swords with real lightsourcing are not very strongly highlighted.. and do tend to look like stone.. or long white bars... Unless I just ended up with a fluke of  an image search.

 

So... are we really tricking ourselves into thinking that the sword is metal OR are we tricking ourselves into thinking that metal blades are more reflective than they really are?

 

I think it's the latter... Opinions?

 

Thanks,

MG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to agree here with ixminis. Those arrowheads you show were taken in a static, studio setting. The general idea of painting a mini is to make it look like it's not in a studio setting, right?

 

While GOOD NMM looks pretty good, for the most part I feel they tend to end up looking flat and dull without depth.

 

That's my own opinion, however.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I work little with swords but quite a lot with metal, it is possible to have a blade or edge tilted so that one face will be quite dull and another catching the light, this usually means one face is grey or even black and the other is silver or white. Steel that isn't polished or honed is pretty much either black or the colour of dirt, but looks subtly different; slightly wet. On a miniature I would sacrifice realism for recognisablility....

 

SO on the subject of highlights, it wouldn't be too far wrong in my eyes to have a dirty silver metallic / light grey, a dark shadow in black or dark tones, and a very bright highlight of silver metallic/ almost-white, depending on what you want the metal to "be".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It also depends on the make of the sword, though, and how well it's cared for, how used it is, etcetera.

 

The ones I own were handmade by someone who recycled car parts for his blades. Very barbaric looking and heavy and dirty. He cooled the metal in used motor oil. This, of course, made the blades somewhat dirty.

 

Meanwhile, another gentleman I knew who made swords made mostly rapiers. These always came out gleaming and shining.

 

Also, care and maintenance of a sword can alter it's reflective quality. Bearing that in mind, I would say it truly is up to the vision of the painter on how he wants the sword to end up looking like.

 

Personally, I don't care for the NMM technique. My own opinion, of course. YMMV.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the arrowhead link, Here are some of the sword pictorial references that I'm talking about.  The one's that are "flatter" are real weapons... the one's that are stainless steel have a "Chromier" appearance:

 

Flat Blade's with single flash-bulb light source

Sword with ambient lighting

Dark Sentinel with bright ambient lighting

Walking stick Katana with bright single lightsource

Blind Man Samurai Sword

High Contrast, few colors vs. chrome looking blade

 

 

A few links about sword making/weapon vs. wallhanger (Of course, from the same source, so more research should be done before drawing any final conclusions):

Stainless steel is what I mean by Chrome

Index of information about Wallhanger Weapons vs. Real ones

 

Bottom line, thanks to all for the continued interesting discussion!

 

MG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't care for the NMM technique. My own opinion, of course. YMMV.

If you don't mind me asking......what the heck is "NMM" and "YMMV" stand for?     ???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

NMM = Non-Metallic Metals (a painting style where no metallic paints are used)

 

YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary (unabashedly stolen from lstormhammer)

 

 

and just for clarification...

 

"ribbit" = Anything Frosch deems probable at the moment.

"BONK!" = Someone did something that warranted being hit on the head by my stuffed mummified cat plush toy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Normal NMM doesn't do alot for me, BUT I do like the over emphisised Almost anime like NMM tecnique [you'll know it when you see it. A recent green haired Reaper female 6 armed demon on cool mini or not had a very nice example of this. [not to mention having the flesh tones of a 'realdoll'. :;):

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like NMM in pictures, The real life examples I've seen were not too impressive.

 

Miniature painting is an art, and artists strive for eye appeal. Higher contrasts have better appeal. Miniatures painted in totally unrealistic colors, such as baby blue skin, pink hair, and a light yellow sword may still look good. One of the beauties of fantasy miniatures is that you can stray away from reality as much as you want. Reflections and highlights can be exagerrated, just as in real paintings.

 

As in schools of oil painting, miniature painting also has these variations and styles. Some prefer muted colors, long transitions, some like bright colors, high contrast, some like sharp black lines for contours, etc. I think if the artist has achieved the desired effect, the product is appreciable. Unfortunately for the internet, the only way to appreciate products are on our monitors, which makes photography a big part of the hobby. This is where techniques come into play for preparing a mini for a more photogenic outcome. Hence the examples of NMM you see widely used, and the candy colors.

 

Also having tried to use NMM and failed, I know the difficulties involved, so for established miniature painters it is a way for them to contest their skills, especially with chrome and sky earth NMM effects which to me appear to be the most difficult.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...