Matt's NMM and Blending Article
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  1. #1

    Default Matt's NMM and Blending Article

    Hi All. I'm in the process of writing an article on how I approach NMM surfaces and how I blend. I figure the best way for me to do this is in installments on the forums, providing better opportunity for feedback and answering questions. Once the installments are finished I will polish them up and post the article.

    Installment #1
    Simplifying the technique.

    The first exercise is probably the most common NMM surface: a blade. Grab a few spare blades out of your bits box (we all have tons of these. The blades used in this article are from a GW Skaven Clanrats box) and give them a light coat of primer.

    Now we'll introduce the palette. What I'm using here is a 10-well plastic palette. You can pick these up at just about any craft store for pennies. The advantage of the welled palette is that it confines the paint to one area, rather than it being spread out on a traditional flat palette. This results in much longer working time without the need for a "wet-palette".



    The following are GW colors/mixes:
    1: Chaos Black
    2: 50/50 Chaos Black/Adeptus Battlegrey
    3: Adeptus Battlegrey
    4: Codex Grey
    5: Fortress Grey
    6: 50/50 Fortress Grey/Skull White
    7: 25/75 Fortress Grey/Skull White

    From now on, I'll refer to the colors by their number. It makes it a lot easier to refer to them.

    Now, we won't be using pure white at all until the very end. #7 is an "Off-White". Use #7 as you would normally use white, that way when you place those final pure white highlights, they will really pop!

    Notice that we have two surface "planes" on each side the blade. We have the flat side and the angled edge. These two surfaces will reflect light differently, so as an exercise we will dramatically exaggerate this contrast.

    Begin with a basecoat of #3. A little less than halfway down the plane, highlight with 4. Halfway down again, highlight with 5. Repeat again for 6 and 7. On the opposite end, shade with 2, and finally a very small amount of 1 near the bottom. Repeat this process (except reverse) on the other surface plane. Note that these layers are not blended at all. This will help us understand the purpose that each of these layers serves.



    Below the first blade we have a fully blended example (though still without the white highlights). The colors I used are exactly the same in both versions. Notice that I did not paint any highlights along the edges! Don't apply any highlights to the edges until the blade is finished. This will give you a more convincing metallic finish.

    Now, lets do a step-by-step example on a more complicated surface. The following blade was painted in the same way as the first one, with layered highlights.



    I'll try to best describe one of my methods for blending. In truth, there's not one specific way that I blend. Sometimes I use super-thin layered highlights. Sometimes I will blend wet paint together, sometimes I will use "feathering", etc. There are several many, many different ways to blend paint, and I feel that to restrict myself to just one would limit the quality of work I could produce. (Why would you want to go to a battle with only one weapon? Learn and become fluent with as many different techniques as possible. Improve your arsenal, and don't limit yourself!)

    The blending I used here is as follows. The paints in each well of the palette are about a cream-like consistency. I will take a very small amount on the tip of a clean, damp brush, and lightly "scrub" the surface with it, making short circular and side-to-side motions with the tip of the brush. This produces no brushstrokes, as opposed to dragging the brush repeatedly in one direction. When blending two colors together, I will alternate back and forth between colors (allowing them to dry between layers) until they appear blended.

    For the first step of blending, we will blend anywhere on the blade that #2 and #3 meet.


    Next, blend together where #3 and #4 meet.


    Next, blend together where #4 and #5 meet.


    Next, blend together where #5 and #6 meet.


    Finally, blend together #6 and #7.


    Now, the blade looks good but still lacks that final touch. With the light source in mind (we will get into that later) place your final highlights with some thinned Skull White paint. I painted some of the edges with some of the thinned grey paints we used earlier.

    I put the blade in front of a grey background so that the highlights are easier to see.


    Notice how the surfaces really have definition now. By painting all of the layers prior to blending, and by limiting white and edge highlighting until the very end we can really control the light source and how reflective we want the surface to be.


    Alright, that's it for now. The next installment will focus on determining your light source, and learning how and where to place highlights to make your NMM more convincing.

    Until next time,

    -Matt
    Last edited by mattsterbenz; 01-04-2011 at 03:08 AM.
    My website: www.msterbenz.com
    My ETSY shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/mattsterbenz
    My miniature painting blog: http://mattsterbenz.blogspot.com/
    My oil painting blog: http://msterbenz.blogspot.com

  2. #2

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    May be you will make video tutorial on youtube ?
    My miniature and comission gallery here : http://bohemond-miniatures.blogspot.com/ Welcome !!!

  3. #3

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    interresting! so different to how i do/did it, not that i paint nmm often (im still a sucker for tmm) but next time this might easy things up a bit, thanks for sharing!

  4. #4

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    even thouh im no big painter i've been waiting for this, whoooo its just like christmas all over again.
    LAAARRFF, I SPLIT MY SIDES!!

    cassar [demigod] |ˈdemēˌgäd|
    noun ( fem. demigoddess |ˈdemēˌgädis| )
    a being with partial or lesser divine status, such as a minor deity, the offspring of a god and a mortal, or a mortal raised to divine rank.
    • a person who is greatly admired or feared.
    ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: translating Latin semideus .

    on a serious note, i do commissions, no really i do, ask and ye shall receive


  5. #5

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    It's like going to school, except that here we do learn something useful...

  6. #6

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    Lovely tutorial! This far one of the absolutely best I've seen!

    I do have some things I'm wondering about... Now this could be because of a lacking grasp of either the language or the technique itself but I'd like a closer explanation of this section:


    Quote Originally Posted by mattsterbenz View Post
    The blending I used here is as follows. The paints in each well of the palette are about a cream-like consistency. I will take a very small amount on the tip of a clean, damp brush, and lightly "scrub" the surface with it, making short circular and side-to-side motions with the tip of the brush. This produces no brushstrokes, as opposed to dragging the brush repeatedly in one direction. When blending two colors together, I will alternate back and forth between colors (allowing them to dry between layers) until they appear blended.
    These circular motions, are you 'weaving' the colours together, making convex strokes of one colour and concave of the other?
    Would it be possible to make a rough graphic of the technique with a pedagogical chart of some sorts?
    Quote Originally Posted by TrystanGST View Post
    The secret? Practice, and a desire to get better. A little talent goes a long way, but as long as you're open to advice, you can do amazing things.

  7. #7

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    Great tut so far man. Will have to try this out sometime.
    Now available for commissions.
    My Blog
    My Gallery

  8. #8

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    can't wait to see how this goes
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v433/freak-in-a-cage/freakinacage-1.jpg

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrome View Post
    These circular motions, are you 'weaving' the colours together, making convex strokes of one colour and concave of the other?
    Would it be possible to make a rough graphic of the technique with a pedagogical chart of some sorts?
    good question! I'll try to include some sort of diagram with the next update.

    Basically, you're just trying to lay down a thin layer of color without any visible brushstrokes. By wiggling the brush in different directions you can get paint off without having to drag the brush very far. By going in random directions and overlapping brushstrokes with more strokes made in different directions, this makes the surface appear to be blended. The real trick here is just in experience, so give it a few shots and it will start coming to you. Hope this helps!

    -Matt
    My website: www.msterbenz.com
    My ETSY shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/mattsterbenz
    My miniature painting blog: http://mattsterbenz.blogspot.com/
    My oil painting blog: http://msterbenz.blogspot.com

  10. #10
    Brushlicker Arma's Avatar
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    Another golden thread from Matt! Looking forward to the rest of the article! Now just to find time to try it! the few hours when my kid sleeps maybe? haha

  11. #11

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    Great article.

    I'VE ADDED WEBCAM LESSONS NOW TOO!
    And a YOUTUBE channel
    Instagram and FaceBook too

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattsterbenz View Post
    good question! I'll try to include some sort of diagram with the next update.

    Basically, you're just trying to lay down a thin layer of color without any visible brushstrokes. By wiggling the brush in different directions you can get paint off without having to drag the brush very far. By going in random directions and overlapping brushstrokes with more strokes made in different directions, this makes the surface appear to be blended. The real trick here is just in experience, so give it a few shots and it will start coming to you. Hope this helps!

    -Matt
    Oh I see, just like with the style in whole it's just a matter of illusion rather than "true" blending then, instead of not having any visible strokes you hide them in plain sight... The less obvious the pattern the harder it will be to distinguish the separate brush strokes... I will definitely try that out on my next piece.
    Quote Originally Posted by TrystanGST View Post
    The secret? Practice, and a desire to get better. A little talent goes a long way, but as long as you're open to advice, you can do amazing things.

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  14. #14

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    Great start: I look forward to seeing the rest of your article

  15. #15

  16. #16

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    Great article so far Matt! Just an observation you may find interesting, you and I blend in a similar fashion, except I use a wet palette vs. the one you use (though I do use yours from time to time for certain things). I mix several shades I am going to use as well, but I find a wet palette gives me the opportunity to mix even more intermediate shades if I need to. I also "feather", use thin paint in layers, or whatever I need to get the job done and look good. You have just been able to explain it a bit better than I ever have, since it's a mix of different techniques as you pointed out.
    Good stuff, looking forward to more!
    ~Jeff~

  17. #17

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    This looks brilliant! Cant wait to see the next installment!

  18. #18

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    Wonderful tutorial! Thanks for your skills and time.

  19. #19
    Newbie, please be gentle Kevzilla666's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing some of your painting knowledge. I am just getting back into miniature painting, after a pretty long time away from the hobby. In many ways I feel like a complete newbie with many of the "new" painting techniques being used, & it has brought back a lot of the inspiration & fire that I had back when I first started painting minis back in the late 70's. I really look forward to more of your tutorial posts.

  20. #20

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    Great article, explains things very nicely. As someone who has never used NMM but plans to try the technique, this was very helpful!

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