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Paints - Metallics vs NonMetallics


Karabean
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Good Evening:

 

I'm starting out with painting minis. I was wondering which metals get used in paints, and does it really make that much of a difference in color or coverage? Can you get truly metallic looking paint without having metal in it? Does anyone know of any tutorials or sites they could point me to in order to learn more about this topic? Thanks for any advice you can lend!

 

Cheers,

Kara

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Well, first WELCOME to the boards! Secondly, you will find that the metals paints from Reaper are excellent for a variety of diffrent uses. I still cling to using one GW metallic, Boltgun metal, and I really like the P3 silvers, but the Reaper line goes on smoother and thinner without clumping. Getting a metallic look without metallic paints doesn't work well. The only non-metallic paint that looks like the metal it should is the Reaper Rust color. When it dries it looks like rusty metal. I am not sure what all is used in the composition of metallic paints, but all of them that I use do put real metal in their paints. Try some out, see which ones fit your needs best, that is always the best way to go!

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Getting a metallic look without metallic paints doesn't work well.
Not to sound overly contrary, but a whole lot of champion painters would probably disagree. It is very possible, not to mention a popular choice for the past several years, to use a technique called "Non-Metallic Metal" (AKA "NMM") for painting swords, armor, and other metal bits on minis. Some painters can get absolutely incredible results this way. There's a pinned thread here in the Tips & Advice Forum with links to all kinds of painting tutorials - go here and click on a few of the many links that mention NMM. That should get you started. I haven't had much luck myself getting NMM to work, but I haven't really put in much of an effort either. But I plan to, someday. Demi-metallics is another good way of dealing with metal parts - it uses a combination of metallic and non-metallic paints. There might be some tutorials for that in the pinned thread as well.

 

Good luck, and welcome to the forums! I think you'll find the community here to be extremely friendly and helpful.

 

Kang

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I have found that NMM will give you higher contrast, and more "pop," while demi-metallics are the most realistic. I wouldn't use just metallic paint, as you do not want a reflective surface in your shadows. There are many tutorials all over the web for both techniques.

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My understanding is that "metallic" paints lack pure metals in them (so no significant gold in the gold paints, for example). There are very fine ground mica particles in the metallic paints that help give the metallic paints their shine.

 

NMM can be gorgeous, photographs well, and can also be useful by allowing painters to specify where highlights are. I have found that getting NMM right is hard (for me) since doing so requires good layering techniques and a good eye for where the highlights and shadows should be. Still working at it. ::P:

 

Ron

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Ron's assessment of NMM is spot-on, so I'll chime in and say that I need a lot of practice with the techniques, too. Layering, blending, glazing, highlight & shadow placement are all critical parts of convincing NMM. Demi-metallics are a good middle ground, I think, allowing the painter to strike a balance and direct the highlights & shading while keeping the sheen of metallic paint.

 

True metallics are fast and easy for the tabletop, but with time and effort can be done to competition standard, too. One of the competitive concerns cropping up occasionally is a matter of scale. The reflective mica particles in hobby paints are still roughly the same size as those you would find in metallic automotive paint, putting them somewhat out of scale with a mini. If they were reduced to a size to be in mini scale, they'd be too small to see and the eye might no longer pick up the metallic lustre. So, I don't know what the solution is, or even if there is one. It's not a problem to be solved, I guess, just a matter of preference - what you see, what you want the viewer to see, etc. Mini painting is a game of illusions, so how you choose to create that illusion is up to you.

 

Just my $0.02.

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To expand on GreyHorde's excellent response (especially the scale thing):

 

NMM takes A LOT of practice to get to look like reflective metal. If you think about it, go look at a picture of a Harley Davidson motorcycle online. You see it as metal...lots and lots of shiney metal, but does your computer have special metallic pixels? Of course not...it's all about creating the perception of reflection...hehehe...and like GreyHorde alluded to, you can make NMM whatever scale you want.

 

Real metallics require little skill to make them look good. BUT, (before you all fire up the flame throwers) real metallics are much harder to get to look amazing, and I have tried for years to make them look right. This is largely due to scale issues as GreyHorde mentioned.

 

Not to divert attention away from the heart of the thread, but take a look at 2 examples:

 

Non metallics:

img48a5e3a05871f.jpg

 

The key with non metallics is to create the reflection you want the viewer to see, so it requires correct light sourcing, and patient blending.

 

 

Real metallics:

img48876cd1e2534.jpg

 

It looks like little more than a base coat of metallic paint, and a few washes...even though its hours of ultra thinned washes (called glazes) to create subtle nuances, and reflective tones.

 

Unfortunately, to reap the benefits of metallic paint (the natural reflective shine), you often lose the subtle tones added for effect, because the metal flake in the paint 'out-shines' the subtle nuances...depending on the lighting it's viewed under. The benefit with NMM is that you can force that reflective look regardless of the position of the mini under natural light, and as mentioned earlier...you can scale it accurately regardless of model size.

 

I hope this helps a little.

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There is an excellent walkthrough in the WIP boards on a mini that olliekickflip did by using metaliic paint. I think his method is also listed in these boards too. He uses "true" metallics, but also takes advantage of regular paint to limit shine in the areas that shouldn't have shine.

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Getting a metallic look without metallic paints doesn't work well.
Not to sound overly contrary, but a whole lot of champion painters would probably disagree. It is very possible, not to mention a popular choice for the past several years, to use a technique called "Non-Metallic Metal" (AKA "NMM") for painting swords, armor, and other metal bits on minis. Some painters can get absolutely incredible results this way. There's a pinned thread here in the Tips & Advice Forum with links to all kinds of painting tutorials - go here and click on a few of the many links that mention NMM. That should get you started. I haven't had much luck myself getting NMM to work, but I haven't really put in much of an effort either. But I plan to, someday. Demi-metallics is another good way of dealing with metal parts - it uses a combination of metallic and non-metallic paints. There might be some tutorials for that in the pinned thread as well.

 

Good luck, and welcome to the forums! I think you'll find the community here to be extremely friendly and helpful.

 

Kang

 

Thank you Kang! I've been checking out some of the links. The non-metallic metal technique seems like another way to add highlights. I agree, it is eye-catching! Good to know :) I had heard that there were some paints that used metals in them which got "better" colors, like cadmium for red. Any ideas how those compare with Reaper or other miniature paints? Would it be worth the money to invest in them? I'd also heard about something called "interference" paints. Are there other types of paints people recommend I should explore?

 

I am so happy to have found this board!

 

Cheers Everyone!

Kara

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My understanding is that "metallic" paints lack pure metals in them (so no significant gold in the gold paints, for example). There are very fine ground mica particles in the metallic paints that help give the metallic paints their shine.

 

Depends on the paints. Some of the better looking metallics use the metal that they are trying to replicate as their base pigment (usually with an enhancer to deal with coverage issues). Most craft and hobby paints however only use mica or similar flake in order to create the shimmer and a normal pigment to provide the color.

 

As far as NMM goes - it can be done...and traditional artists have used it to great effect for centuries. They have to create the appearance of metal and surfaces on a flat plane, so it is a requirement. However for a lot of us - it is more of a distraction on miniatures since it isn't carried out well. Sorry to hit on it...but it was posted here, so it makes it easy not to look for anything else.

 

The SM in the above picture has a polished gold bolter done in NMM. However, for me - it is crap. The horizon line is a distraction since it follows the shape of the bolter not the horizon. I have worked with metals and glosses so much that when I see something like that, my brain just can't get over what is wrong and spends more time trying to make it right (maybe there is something off set which is causing it...maybe the Marine is running down hill...). The horizon line should be...well more or less horizontal (unless the scene dictates otherwise), and break across the bends in the gun itself. Curved (concave are different than convex) surfaces require there own methods - but that comes from studying the materials not the techniques.

 

The belt also suffers the same problems. The highlights aren't right for the rest of the figure. Other issues may also be off - however those generally only become apparent when you have the mini in hand and look at all sides (and notice that there isn't a light source which makes sense).

 

Looking at pictures can be very deceiving though, they show a specific view of a specific object where the viewer can not change their perspective. That works fine and good for 2D paintings - but a miniature must maintain the same scheme from all directions. This is one of the reasons that people often mess up with NMM...and it is also one of the reasons why I don't care for NMM on miniatures (or models, or anything 3D which allows for the viewer to control the view). Getting it right takes more than just a little bit of understanding of lighting, materials and the scene itself (polished metal looks different when in a grassy field versus a concrete jungle) - that doesn't even get into actually being able to paint it correctly.

 

For me...99% of the time...metallics and inks. You can use the inks in order to deal with the shading issues, as well as give hints of the scene which the miniature occupies. From time to time, actual paints will come into play - but in order to avoid the issues of loosing the metallic aspects of metallics paints, I prefer inks since they will simply tint the surface without covering it.

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Karabean: My suggestion would be to start with metallics, see how light affects them, then move to NMM later if you're so inclined. Once you start playing with NMM for a while, you'll begin to undersrtand the differences between Sky-Earth NMM (SENMM) and other forms; thus you can control the amount of reflectivity you want to convey. SENMM involves "horizon lines" like Joe was talking about, and assumes the metallics are presented as the reflective equivalent of chrome, thus they reflect everything like the ground, the horizon, etc. However, it's important to note, that is only one NMM technique, and does not always fit the mini you are working on. Metal comes in different forms, with a wide variety of reflective values. You can learn through practice how to represent those variations without the use of metallic paints.

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Getting it right takes more than just a little bit of understanding of lighting, materials and the scene itself (polished metal looks different when in a grassy field versus a concrete jungle) - that doesn't even get into actually being able to paint it correctly.

 

I'll go one step further on this. I don't think it is possible to ever "get it right" with NMM on a mini. When you look at a 3D object, the shine moves as the object is moved. When the NMM shine is painted on, it cannot move. NMM done well looks awesome from the various angles to which is was painted and photographed, but when seen in person, something always seems off, even though the paint job itself is stunning. One thing I think is funny is that the painting community has now gotten so used to seeing NMM, that they no longer register the lack of moving luster to be an issue.

 

I use Meta-Metallics on my show quality stuff. That way I still get the deep shadows and can partly direct the shine, but still keep some of the metalic paint luster to get a moving shine on the 3D sculpt.

 

BTW: Lunch box, I think your metallics on the Goblin are very well done and I can see the subtle shading in them. I wish more people would learn to use metallics/demi-metallics well instead of NMM. They just look more realistic as far as I am concerned.

 

Andy

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After a few hours sleep my assessment of Lunchbox's SM seems a bit harsh. The painting is good - I just can't get behind on actual shading used.

 

Anywho, the NMM versus SENMM and all the rest is a bit of a non-issue. It doesn't make a difference what you call it - the horizon line needs to exist any time that you are painting materials that have a significant amount of reflectivity (even brushed aluminum has a recognizable horizon line). The proper placement is what makes the effect workable...otherwise it tends to look simply like normal painting with some odd highlighting.

 

I'll go one step further on this. I don't think it is possible to ever "get it right" with NMM on a mini. When you look at a 3D object, the shine moves as the object is moved. When the NMM shine is painted on, it cannot move.

 

I wouldn't go quite that far. Miniatures which are in a fixed situation (shadow boxes and stuff like the old GW miniature dioramas) allow you to get really crazy with your reflections and you control the viewing angles...so you can work the painting more than normal.

 

Even in a less controlled environment, the shine shifts - but normally it will move only in certain circumstances (unless of course you rotate the object and not the viewer...). Take a look at this:

 

http://www.zercustoms.com/photos/Toyota-Auris-in-Chrome.html

 

That is a bit of an exaggeration, but it does demonstrate the effects of the horizon and various breaks on the object. The car remains stationary, but the viewing angle changes. If you were to examine the horizon lines on objects like the mirrors, you will find that they remain in the same spot from all the angles they are visible in. Same goes for the rest of the lines...though those are a bit harder to identify compared to the mirrors.

 

Keep in mind that that is a specific environment. The lighting is overhead and provided by giant skylights, so it isn't focussed. Various other light sources will change the end result (fire, torch in hand, interior point lights....). Some are nearly impossible to replicate properly in a NMM fashion - most can be done with proper understanding of the scenes composition.

 

But yes, I do agree - the goblin looks very well done. While it can be a bit hard to photograph metallics (different issue, for a different thread) - when they are seen in person, well done metallics/demi-metallics/blended metallics/whatever the flavored name of the week might be will look much more realistic most of the time.

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