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  • My Thoughts on NMM... (updated)

    Hello. Good day, I am the Chrispy one. If you are reading this you must be like me, asking "WHY NON-METALLIC METAL?". Well, I ask "Why not?"

    What is NMM?

    People explain it different ways, but to me, NMM is what regular, 2D artists have used for years to make realistic looking metal. Obviously, Da Vinci
    didn't have metallic paints. It would look wierd and unrealistic. SO NMM is just painting metal with opaque paints. I have had to learn how to do this,
    as I am an art student, and expect to be e Graphic/Game Designer... Now, as I make this tutorial up, PLEASE stick with it, at times I may seem
    crazy (which I am ) but this is the gosh-derned truth! Oh, and here is the ever-present Elfwood link on reflection:
    Elfwood FARP Reflective Metal

    You Think that's Air you're Breathing?

    The thing about NMM metal is you must know your shadows and values of grays, how are you ever going to blend blue when you think White, Black,
    and Gray are colors... Yep, that's right White, Black and Gray, even though many stores sell them in bottles/spray paint/sodas/whatever, are not truly
    color. Let's to Light to Dark (Yeah, Good to Evil!): White is the lightest value, all colors together. What the human Eye percieves as color is the light
    reflected off an object. All colors make White. Pue and Simple. Thus, Gray is actually a tint (if lightening an actual color), or a shade (if darkening a color)
    Black is the darkest value, it does not reflect any color, it absorbs light (Try putting a white and black sheet of paper out in the sun, which is warmer?)

    What are these "Values" I keep referring to? Values refer to the tint/shade of the color. That means, if it is darker, it is said to have a low value,
    if it is lighter, it has a higher value. The Ideal Gray, then is in the middle of these values, and White is the highest, Black is the lowest, Like so:

    Notice how this can work for my favorite color, blue. Any color does this, basically. More on blending colors, this pic is not to look like a bad
    blend, but to show you clor values, Ok?

    Now, Within the value scale, they can be several Key ranges.. Any of you in music know that a note, for example a G, can be higher or lower, but it's
    still basically a G. Such it is with color, Gray can be in a value, but it can be High Key or Low key. Continuing from values, High is lighter, and low is darker.
    Like So:


    Great, you Art knowledge Impresses me? What about the NMM?!?!

    Have you learned nothing child?!?! It's simple: When you want a dark NMM, use a dark key range (But you must use white somewhere, as the White
    is what makes it realistic..). Now, when these Values, Key Ranges, and Colors that aren't colors combine, you have something like this:

    Pretty self-explanatory, isn't it? Highlights are ALWAYS in the direction of the light source. From there, think of the highlight as "Hot" and just go "cooler"
    The warm light comes next, a tad off of the Highlight color, blending into the cool shadow, then into the darkest Cold Shadow. Note: The Cold Shadow is
    always darkest next to the reflected light, or Reflection. Even matt object have reflected light, as it is getting the light of the thing it is standing/placed on.
    I doubt You'll use regluar shadows, but just remember they are always darkest on the side furthest from the object, then they get slightly lighter.

    So now, let me touch on blending really quick, than I'll get on with more of my Zen on Chrome/Gold, Etc...


    Now when you want to blend a color and make it darker/lighter, you need to remember you DO NOT ADD BLACK EVERY TIME!! Sorry I shouted, it was
    the FunkPhantoms in my body... Anyhoo, here's what I've been taught on coloring: use the color wheel.. yes, that thing in Kindergarten, it comes in
    handy in situatuations. Here's a basic color wheel from Handprint(used without permission, please do
    not sue... I can make my own if I need to...):

    Here we see the blending of all colors, if you need more, go to their site. Basically, you take the three primary colors of Red, Blue Yellow, and they
    make the secondary Green, Purple, Orange, and those mix, and so on, and so on..

    Well, here's the thing: see yellow opposite purple, you'll never believe me but if you add a bit of purple to yellow, you get a brownish color which is not
    too muddy, but actually very smooth. I did this in a fine arts peice, and it turned out beautifully...Or, some people perfer that they use a color analogous
    (next to on the color wheel) for darkening, and another lighten color analogous the other way for lightening a color. This can be seen on GW Red gems,
    the highlight is usually orange, which is next to red. Since this is NMM, you must use white to make a color lighter, as metal reflects light in it's purest
    form, which we discussed is white.

    Now, for highly reflective chrome, you must start with the darkest color in the middle, where the light would shift.. This colormis usually a brown
    I have not seen green, but that could look like th mini was a sea.. which might now be a bad thing... anyways from the darkest brown, use
    it's values to blend into a slightly lighter color.


    How do I do this?

    .....You may ask. Well, I've read the take of Haley, Bobby Wong, sivousplay, ZaPh0d, and many others. Basically it comes down to two things;
    1: Make colors close to the original. It's kinda hard to use an airbrush on a mini, so some blending is really colors that are so simliar placed so
    close together, the eye just picks it up as a smooth blend. and 2: Water paints down. If you do this, just make a 75% mix of water to paint and
    apply, then a 50% water base, then 25%, then none at all, remembering to let each coat dry (Unless you try wet blending, which uses paints
    when they are still wet to blend, I've heard more negative than positive things, but you can try it. Heck, you can paint something Day-glo orange
    if you wanted to, just don't blame it on me.)

    So, once the brown is the darkest point, just like I said, the reflection of the horizon comes, which is the lightest part. This should be a thin line of
    pure white, cause like I said, it's the white that makes it realistic... Universally, the sky is blue.. unless you live in LA, then you got you're own
    problems to deal with. So go from white to a light blue. The top of whatever you're painting should be slightly lighter, and not the darkest
    blue you are using. A Computer rendering gives us this ball:

    Notice, the reflected light and the light source are still there. I'f this was darker armor or metal, my key range would be higher or lower.
    Now once we have this blending thing beaten, you might wonder, "What about Gold?" Well, get this.. It's the exact same technique! Yes,
    you must learn where the horizon is and light source, yadda, yadda yadda, is first, then it's the exact same thing.

    Don' believe me? take a look-sy at this, I've painted a section of the ne Gold Lioness concept drawing... One is highly reflective chrome
    reflecting the earth/sky/sun, and the other is gold, but they are the same image, just the gold one has been tweeked a bit and all the
    colors are now reddish-brown-yellowish (I know, I made up a color that doesn't exist, but then I also made colors that DO exist dissapear!)

    Obviously, this cannot get too technical on small little filagre on armor and clothes, so KISS it, which should be anyone's mantra:
    Keep It Simple Student (also something else, but don't be TOO hard on yourself...)

    A big scratch or crack can look good here and there, and that is somewhat easy. Paint a line for whereever you want the scratch with a darker color (which may or not be black, you'll just have to see what is realistic..) then, paint over the line the exact same way with white, opposite the light source.. Like so:

    Refrain from doing this too much, because this is a good example of KISS. If you make too many of these, the NMM armor is no longer metal but marble... Which might not be a bad thing to have if it's a really great warrior or cariot haft, or even background..

    Well, back to colored metal... Like I said, Light source, shadows, blending, all of that is the same, the color is just different:

    Yeah, I know, ehn I made these up, they sorta looked like marbles to me.. but think! If they look like marbles, they look like a 3-d object, which is what we are going for here!


    3D Shading

    Yes, one more page of my rants, then I'll get to the good stuff at the very end. Now, you must realize not everything is blended like a sphere. Sure it works for chest armor, gems, and spoons, but when you come arcoss, say a space marine, with angular edges, it will look wierd if you do that. So here are some 3D shaded FORMS. That's right, there's another art term.. Squares, Triangles, and Rectangles are shapes because they appear flat. if they appear 3D, then they are Cubes, Cones, and Cylinders:

    So, here you can see that the shading would be vertical instead of horizontal on a cylinder and a cone. What is this good for? Cinfrontation Barbarian Females. Yep, look around the website, everyone who paint NMM on their.. uh.. Cones, paints the highlight in the middle, and not where the light source is. Also, gauntlets have this effect. Cubes are found everywhere, even places that are not cubical... (did I just use the right vocabulary word?) Cubes can be sheet metal, stairs, aztec-like armor, swords, axes, daggers, scimatars and even scytes when you think of them in blending and shading terms. Since all of these last ones were weapons, I'm just going to make a new heading here called:

    NMM Weapons

    Below I have a (stupidly) rendered sword, blade, and scythe. Now, can you see the resemblance to a cube? No? Well, you knew I was going to tell you anyways: Where the edges meet, the color is not the same. This means if there is any kind of angle, the darkest point of one face of the metal will be there, then on the other side, the lighest part is there. Again, white makes it belieable. I tried to keep the light source the same place, in the upper right hand corner, but the blade may be a little off. I have not had the greatest time with this and hope to get better with practice.


    Real NMM while working

    All this teory is facts, of course, but while youre painting I doubt you'll be reading this. I can also see you now holding paint up to the screen, trying to match everyone else's colors, well I've made I small virtual palette or the colors I use for NMM:

    From top to bottom on the left side is Vallejo's Beige, Golden Yello, Orange Brown,and Calvary Brown I use for gold. I actually have a big bottle of water based acrylic called Yellow Oxide, and sometimes I like to use some flesh wash for a smaller, darker line of color. Again, water these down a bit and mix for a smooth coat.

    Top to bottom on the right side is Aluminium Greay, Pale Blue Gray, Dark Blue Gray, and London Gray for silver/steel. I don't have Dark Pale Blue Yet, but I did manage to mix up about 11 colors from black to pure white with them. Of course, I found it best to keep you colors limited, as a lot of shading and highlighting looks sloppy.

    Once you decide what the piece of metal is going to be, then apply a basecoat of the color in the middle of what you are going for. Some might not do this, and go with the lightest or darkest color. I prefer the mid-color as it is a pain to put lighter colors on a dark background, and to try and stay neat so that the light color doesn't get messy.

    As you see in the second step of the sheild looking thing below, I shade second. This is so if there is too much, I can water down the mid color abit, and not have to repaint the wholoe thing over again. To shade, just get darker a little bit at a time, the darker you go, the smaller an area you paint. This goes the same for the next step, highlights. Add a lighter color little by little, near the light souce and to not foregt to contrast with some reflected light:

    The only time I really like to paint straight darker colors is when an edge on a blade or something cannot be seen to well when painted. I had thins problem practicing on Female Barbarians. So I just painted what needed to be dark, and it didn't bother me.

    Another NMM which seems a little simplere but I haven't gotten the hang of yet is to blend the lighter colors in the middle of the blade, the side facing the lightsource, and to paint a capital "I" shape with elongated serifs (the tops and bottom lines) with white. This might just be for curved blades, but it is good looking none the less:


    You'll never take me alive, Copper!

    Yes, I told you I'd be updating this as time went on. I just got more Vallejo and I've been mixing 'em up and producing some nice results. One thing I've noticed is people are shying away from NMM copper. Don't. As I said, same principle, but different colors. With copper, you want to choose a nice reddish brown to start with, but (and this is very important) when you want to highlight, add white. not beige-yellow, pure white. This means you're going to have to be patience and add little by little. For copper I'm using Vallejo's Calvary Brown mixed with a little bit of Cork Brown. So, let's see a virtual progression of what were shooting for:

    See? red-brown to white, no fancy yellow-brown like gold. If you still have problems, kust go to the hardware store and buy some a cheap bit of copper tubing as reference.

    Corrosive Agent

    Since we're talking about copper, now is a good time as any to bring up the point of corrosion. Yeah, you see all these swords looking so clean, who shines that much? Plus, if it's an undead, goblin, orc or other baddie, they wouldn't even get a nice shiny swod, it would be covered in rust. Well, the thing to remember about rust (especially Copper verdigris) is that it forms along deep edges and makes a running pattern down, and forms were water would pool. So, here I digitally painted a jackal warrior's sword (I know, I have too much free time but otherwise why would I be typing this?)

    See how I make those streaks along the inner edge and down as to mimic water flow? This is easy to do on NMM, just use some watered down inks. I myself perfer GW inks, as do many other but feel free to use Vallejo. Heck, get some paint and make your own with their medium! Also, remember tha Copper rusts with a Turqouise-ish tinge, and it gets highlighted with a little with. Vallejo makes a great Verdigris glaze, whic is great for the lighter stuff, but I think I will add some color to it to make it believable..
    I'm just going to let Sivousplay speak for me now on how he did his rusty sword on his Great Crane now:"I prime white ... 1 or 2 thin washes of Light Brown (it's sort of an
    orangish-brown) followed by 1 or 2 very thin washes of Black. Let the black pool up in places, dab it off in others ... finally a very very thin drybrush of silvergrey at the
    "shiniest" points." Thanks for the tip, Jim!

    Finally, I'm going to show you another rendering, this time a copper shield. Right away, you can see what makes this look scratched and dirty, it's they way the highlight was put on. So if you want to make dings, just take a lighter color of your metal and make small rough marks. If you're really brave, go back under the highlight and using my big scratch guide, go under it with a darker color. This will make great scratches. Also take note of the rust:, looks like drops, and it below the bolts. This is where the water stayed. If you were making an extremely rusted copper, you would have to start with a blue green base and then paint brown on top, like I did on the sword above.

    I'm BaaaaaAAaaaack!

    It's your old friend Chrispy, back with yet another update for the NMM
    article.. and this time, I have in progress pics! Some of ya?s wanted to
    see a step by step, so I decided since I was doing my Rackham skellies
    and I had figured out my camera and pics (finally!) I?d show everyone how
    to do simple rusty NMM.. So, on with the show!! (P.S, Sorry for clumping
    images together, but I can only upload so many pics and there needs to
    be room for other stuff, capiche?)
    For iron, I mixed up two drops of Vallejo Azure, two drops of Light
    Grey and one drop of Neutral Grey. This was the basic basecoat for the
    metal on the sword (sorry, no pic, I?m too enthusiastic about painting,
    so I leapt in...

    1.Next, I blended a bit of Light Grey.. I guess you could call it dry/wet
    blending, as the basecoat was dry, but the Light grey was watered down
    a bit.. takes practice, patience and expertise not to look too blotchy...
    which I might have just passed off for it being a dinged up sword anyways..
    2.Anyhoo, the next color was Pale Greyblue (not to be confused with Bulegrey
    Pale, man Vallejo?s descriptions are specific...) put on in much the same
    way as Light Grey, but hugging the edge a bit more.. One thing I forgot
    to mention before is that the progression from basecoat to White is not
    equal, for a broad space of the darkest color, you?ll only have a bit of
    White at the end. Just think of it kinda like a topographical map, where
    mountains are shown with lines within lines... plans within plans.. You
    are transparent, Padisha Emperor... Uh, Ahem.. where was I?
    3.Flat Aluminum! That?s it! To me, this is as close as grey comes to white
    without being totally white. This color is a must if you want a smooth
    progression to white without using half your bottle and measuring out a
    Black in Parts Per Million..
    4.And finally, White at the very edge blended back a bit. I could have
    gone on and done Sky-Earth NMM from here, giving the underside of the sword
    pretty much the same treatment with a bit of the basecoat mixed with brown,
    but I decided to do rust and dings for my darker colors..
    5.For the dings and scrapes, I used Calvary Brown (actually a Red-Brown
    to me, the compulsive color theorist!) for the rusted lines and Black Grey
    for the normal scrape in the middle.

    6.A Quick highlight of Flat Aluminum on the side opposite the light source,
    and I had hacked up the metal pretty good!

    7.Next, I used a bit of Calvary Brown mixed with the basecoat color (you
    DO have a wet palette to keep these, right?) and blended down from the
    edges. More went onto the bottom side, as more water would have accumulated
    there, plus it evens out the White.

    And now the Copper NMM! Bronze can be done pretty much the same way
    as this, just use brown instead of a reddish brown..

    1.That being said, I started off with a mix of Calvary Brown and Flat
    Aluminum.. After looking at the last image, however, I realized that I
    should have mixed a bit more Flat Aluminum, but I just went back over with
    a lighter mix.. What does this teach you? Almost everything is fixable,
    so don?t be afraid to try things!
    2.As this face/shoulder pad is more intricate that a flat sword, I started
    with the dark colors first, which you really should do anyways. I painted
    straight Calvary brown around the dark areas.
    3.Next was a little Chocolate Brown in the darkest areas.. Remember this
    is not Iron, Steel or Silver and such does not usually have a black shadow,
    so You?ll have to rely on a dark brown.

    4.I then started on the Verdigris on the copper with a bit of Blue Green
    mixed with Calvary Brown so I got a brownish color and I applied and blended
    to the area where the rust would accumulate. Sorry for blurry pic, dunno
    what happened.. evil camera pixies, methinks...
    5.Almost the same thing as above, but should look closer to Blue Green,
    so add s?more!..... Hey, get away from the graham crackers and marshmallows
    and get back to work!
    6.Next, I dabbed a bit of Verdigris Glaze on the inner most rusted parts.
    Vallejo tells you to just put this over something and sponge it off, but
    I do not recommend this for NMM, as it?ll get on areas you don?t want or
    need. Instead I use this as the final highlight to Verdigris.
    7.And now I highlighted the Copper with a bit of the basecoat mixed with
    a teeny bit more Flat Aluminum. The raised parts like the cheeks, nose
    and rim got this.

    8.Next was straight Flat Aluminum, blended in. For this I only used the
    tiniest, watered down amount to follow up the first highlight.

    9.And now White was applied and blended in a certain manner. I only gave
    a bit to the lips and nose, while the cheek would be facing the light source
    the most.
    And in the final pic, I went back with the first Flat Aluminum/Calvary
    Brown highlight to smooth things out a bit... the metal looked too dark
    despite the white and even that seemed to stark compared to the rest. Now
    I was satisfied a bit more. Like I said, go back and fix mistakes. If you
    can?t satisfy yourself, you can satisfy anyone else with your half-assed
    efforts! :P
    Now that you?ve read everything, scroll really fast and see if you can
    make a stop motion animation of it! (I call it Miniamation! :P ) Sorry
    I couldn?y get Sky-earth in this time L, but check in next time and I promise
    gold, silver and maybe bronze, but no big promises, kay?

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