Painting metal with non-metallic paints

I spent a lot of time hemming and hawing over how to paint the bronze and iron for my Macedonians. Like a lot of people I learnt to paint 28mm scale miniatures from the ‘Eavy Metal articles in White Dwarf, which always promote metallic paints. It’s certainly the easiest to get started with, but as I got into smaller skirmish games like Malifaux and Infinity that allowed more time per miniature I tried my hand at using non-metallic paints to paint metallics. I was really surprised by how easy it was as well as the striking effect that it can give when done right.

I first used NMM techniques on historical models with my SAGA Normans and they looked pretty cool! They were an easy intro though: chainmail is just focussed dry-brushing with greys and whites, and after that it was just conical helmets and shield rims:

Normans 1

Predictably, he’s called Norman.

Normans 2

This guy’s called Archie.

At first I never even contemplated doing NMM on such a big scale as a whole DBMM army – something like 200-300 bronze helmets and 100 large bronze shields. I did some test paints and talked about it with my brother, and figured I might as well give it a go. My test with metallic paints just didn’t pop compared to the non-metallics—perhaps that’s something I’ve got to work on if the NMM drives me round the bend!

So here’s how I painted my shields:NMM shields 1Base coat of VMC Medium Fleshtone.

 

NMM shields 2Wash with Citadel Reikland Fleshshade.

 

NMM shields 3Glaze of Medium Fleshtone over the top right of the shield.

 

NMM shields 4Repeat the wash of Reikland Fleshshade.

 

NMM shields 5Repeat the Medium Fleshtone glaze, over a slightly smaller area this time.

 

NMM shields 6Shade with Reikland Fleshshade only over the bottom right.

 

NMM shields 7Highlight with 4 parts Medium Fleshtone, 1 part VMC Dark Sand.

 

NMM shields 8 Highlight with 3 parts Medium Fleshtone, 1 part Dark Sand.

 

NMM shields 9Highlight with 2 parts Medium Fleshtone, 1 part Dark Sand.

 

NMM shields 10Highlight with half Medium Fleshtone, half Dark Sand.

 

NMM shields 11Highlight with 2 parts Ivory, 1 part Medium Fleshtone, 1 part Dark Sand.

 

NMM shields 12Final step: highlight with Ivory. This is just a small, thin highlight but it is the most important! It has to be small but very bold as that’s what’s going to make the whole thing pop.

I’m happy with the speed of it too: while taking photos of these four I was also painting another 14 and got them all done in half of an evening. It does look like a lot of steps, and it is, but each step gets progressively smaller and smaller so by the time you’re half-way through you’re already ripping through them.

I paint helmets in exactly the same way. I find them a bit easier because you’ve got more details to work with. The more details, the easier it is to make NMM work, because you get more shading and highlights to play around with, and it’s the sharp distinction between those two that makes the effect work.

I quickly blu-tacked the shields onto my mostly completed first batch of pezhetairoi and here’s what they look like:

NMM shields pike block

Afterwards I overpaint the helmets and shields that I’m the least happy with with blue (for helmets) and the taxis colour for the shields. This one’s colour is salmon pink so expect them to look a lot more rosy once I’m done with them!

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