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Paints - Metallics vs NonMetallics


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I will say that I am firmly in the paint with metalic paints camp because NMM looks a tad cartoonish to me. The NMM technique offers a lot however I prefer metalics.


The grain size issue is only a problem in older lines of metalic paints. For example Vallejo makes a line of airbrush metallics that are great. Reaper MSPs are also pretty fine grain. The grain issue really begins to matter at 15mm on down. I digress.


Here is agreat url on painting figures with metalics. It is somewhat advanced, but honestly the effect is great. Give the article a read.

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One of the most important things to take away from that article (everything else is good...but the #1 thing that I have found) is to spend the time with surface prep. A1, #1 most important!


When dealing with any real finishes (metallics, pearlescents, flipping colors...) you want to have an absolutely perfectly smooth finish. When metal miniatures are cast, they end up picking up a slight texture all over - and when you use one of the paints on the surface which play with light...much of the effect will be lost due to the texture on the underlying material. Dremels with soft brass/aluminum/nylon brushes or jeweler's polishing points make that a quick and easy task. After that, a smooth primer coat and your metallics will look 10 times better even with larger grained sized paints.


For the optimal effect, use an enamel or lacquer metallic paint over a gloss primer (most acrylics have a hard time sticking to gloss primers). Again, it provides the smoothest finish and as a result it will provide optimal metallic effects.

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Wow, this turned into yet another NMM vs. true metallics vs. demi- or semi- or whatever-metallics debate. Which is pretty funny, but not unusual. Karabean, I apologize for my contributions to topic drift, thread-jacking and debate. With that, I'll come back around and say, welcome to the forums! It looks like you just got your first lesson in what kind of responses you can expect for your questions: (1) It depends, (2) Read the tutorials, (3) SoonTM, (4) My opinion is...


So, as others have said to your first post, miniatures hobby paints (emphasis mine) generally do not have the actual metal suspended in them. Joe Kutz mentioned other options with metallic flakes in them, such as enamels and laquers intended for scale model vehicles, automotive and industrial uses. Several mentioned airbrushing. Maybe these are options for you, so yes, experiment and keep an open mind for the options, but don't get overwhelmed with the possibilities.


Since you said you're just starting out, I'll chime in with several others and suggest keeping it simple, beginning with metallic miniatures hobby paints. They are designed to look good on a mini straight out of the bottle (well, you'll still need to thin them, at least a little bit). Using them this way in the beginning takes some of the worry and guesswork out of it, allowing you to concentrate more on other areas like brush control, color choices, highlighting and shading. Unless you have already mastered much of this with extensive 2D painting and/or 3D modeling experience, you might attempt too much all at once on your first minis and end up frustrated. Using metallic paints gives you a good chance of early success, and with that comes confidence, gains in brush control and color choices, placement of normal highlights on other surfaces, etc. When everything else you're doing looks better than your metallics, then bring your metallics up to that next level.


So, really, my question is, what is it you are starting out painting? And to what purpose? Fantasy wizards with only fiddly bits of metal on them? Big bruisers with a lot of armor and weapons? What type of armor, chainmail or shiny rivets on leather or large flat areas of plate? Giant stompy robots standing 3" tall on the table, all in metals with varying amounts of reflectivity, rust, scratches and stains? Are you painting for speed, like for getting some troops on the tabletop? For self and friends for RPGs? Display or (someday) competition? I ask only because specific goals generate specific questions, and will get more specific answers, rather than general opinions.


Karabean, you also asked about cadmium-based artist color and their relative worth as compared to hobby paints. In a nutshell, you might find the hard-dollar cost of cadmiums (red, yellow, orange and others) to be prohibitive. Then again, there is value because you get a lot of highly pigmented, super-concentrated paint for the money, probably more than you will ever use on minis, and in the tube it can last just about forever. And yes, the cadmium in them makes them more opaque, but it also makes them toxic. Search these forums for "brush licking", if you want more info on that aspect. Still, the question is what is your pain-threshold for amount to spend on paint, vs. quick alternatives?


Let's pick on red, for example. RMS Fire Red ($2.25 to $2.99, depending on your source) tends to be rather translucent, requiring several coats to get a solid basecoat out of it when put directly on white primer. A near-equivalent color of artist's acrylic red, like cadmium red, could run anywhere from $4.00 to $20.00, depending on size, brand, source and whether or not it's truly cadmium-based, or an 'equivalent'. However, it could be very opaque and perform really well, or when thinned to flow off a paintbrush at mini-scale, it could still be translucent. So, you could end up spending time, money and effort locating and learning to use a substitute for a hobby paint, only to find that it still requires several coats. Of course, you might just as easily find it works perfectly for you. Is that worth the investment? Well, that's up to you to decide. Sometimes the answer is to try another line of hobby paint, sometimes it's to experiment with an 'artist' paint, sometimes you might stick with what you have and dig the answer out of color theory. Example: to get a deep red from a translucent bugger like RMS Deep Red, start from white primer, basecoat in brown, then go to Deep Red. Keep an open mind, don't get too locked into any one 'camp' or method as being the be-all and end-all of mini painting, metallic or otherwise.


One more item you asked about - interference colors. These are artist acrylics for special effects like color-shifting. I've seen them most often used to mimic fancy paint jobs on vehicle models, maybe a few 'alien' sci-fi pieces, but seldom for metallics in general. Here's a good description of what interference colors do. Take a look a look at peacock feathers - real ones, not pictures - to get some idea of the effect in real life. So, my best suggestion for using interference colors is on birds, insects and some fantasy or sci-fi creatures. In hobby paints, pearlescent mixes like RMS Pearl White, Ruby Red and others I can't think of off the top of my head can give you a weak representation of that shift, too. Those might be a good place to start, since they mix with other acrylic paints, inks and metallics. Mix 'em, glaze 'em, shine 'em up or tone 'em down, just to see how they behave.


Whew...I hope that helps. Keep posting, keep asking questions, and we'll keep trying to steer you forward. Again, welcome to the forums and the mini-painting addiction.

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Just remember that silver paint by itself won't properly shade s shield or blade any more than a single shade of brown will adequately paint a tunic or pouch.


You have to push the shades and highlights for metallic objects just as you do cloth, flesh, wood, etc. One way is with NMM, which has been discussed, but I prefer a hybrid method.


My semi-finished tutorial is here: http://www.hacklopedia.com/Miniatures/tuto..._tutorial.shtml


Basically, I do exaggerated highlighting with non-metallic paints that complement the metal color I am trying to achieve, then finish with a wash of thinned metallic to give it a sheen. It's sort of a semi-nonmetallic metal. I also use various shades of metallic sheen when appropriate, such as when I want to paint the bottom of a shield that will be in shadow, or to highlight the tip of a blade.


I find it to be more to my liking than NMM, and much easier. It's also a far cry beyond my old "paint it with metallic paint and then shade and wash with inks" method.

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Wow, this turned into yet another NMM vs. true metallics vs. demi- or semi- or whatever-metallics debate.


That was the title of the thread...

That was not how I read it, either alone or in context of the first post. Let's see if I can explain that, as well as why I made a point of mentioning the debate. Please bear with me as it's late, I'm dead-dog tired, and this makes me prone to err on the side of stupidity (my own).


The first word of the title is 'paints', not 'painting' or 'painting techniques'. Taken literally (and out of context), I read it as a question about types of paint, not the relative merits and application of one technique vs. another. Still, I can see how at a glance one might think it was about painting techniques. But, if you keep the title in the context of the post...the second line after salutation, "I'm starting out with painting minis."...doesn't that pretty clearly say, "Please don't confuse me with a lot of techno-engineering-theory-babble"?


It just seemed to me that a lot of the responses later in the thread became cluttered with jargon and opinions, so I tried to gently close the debate (temporarily) and put the focus back where I thought it belonged.


Meh. I'm whupped. Good night!

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