I know there are some new trends out there when painting, Non Metallic Metals seems to be a very “in” technique, but it’s a love it or hate it kind of thing. Personally I think it takes an extremely skilled painter to pull it off, and the effects usually don’t suit me. After working on the sword knights, I found I really like metallics. They are rich and forgiving paints that I feel add a lot of life to my models. Originally I stuck mainly with silvers because I couldn’t find a gold that looked good. But after playing around I’ve found my “perfect” formula, and I’m going to share it with you.
First off, like all paints you need to thin metallics. Ideally you should be applying them like any other paint. Do your best to keep it smooth and even. Let it dry completely between coats to avoid tearing your first layers. This will allow the metal flakes to lie down properly and reflect light. Don’t dry brush! Dry brushing is no way to get a rich smooth tone, in fact unless you are going for a muted galvanized/oxidized look, dry brushing should be left out of your bag of tricks completely.
Here’s what I do. I’ll go though colors on the Vallejo side and the Citadel side so you can take what works for you. Start off with Brazen brass (Cit) or Brassy Brass (VGC). You need a good base to start off with. This is so that your lighter tones have something to work with. I prefer the Citadel brand here for its smaller flakes, but the VGC does cover a tad better per pass. Then I ink this down with watered down brown ink. (I recommend the Citadel brand) You can be pretty liberal here. If you apply too much in one spot, clean of your brush quick and wick it back up into the brush. You should be able to see it relatively easily. Try to use the natural capillary action of the ink to let it do the work for you. Let your metals dry fully prior to applying inks, they really make a mess if you don’t. If you want even richer metals, consider mixing in some ink directly to the metallic paint.
Once this is done, you have the foundation for your metals complete. The next trick is to shine them back up. I start with a thinner coat of the Brass, keep this pretty thin and clear up all the places where the ink was too thick. You can use this to create a smooth transition from one color to the next. For the next highlight, I suggest either Shining Gold (Cit) or Glorious gold (VGC). Consider possible light sources and try to keep your highlights with that in mind. Make sure you leave a good portion of the original metals showing through. About 1/4th to 1/3rd is enough. If you feel the transition is too abrupt, you can do two things. Thin more, or mix the gold with the brass tone. The mixing is obvious, the thinning less so. Metallics are not normal paints. The pigments are little bits of reflective material suspended in a binding agent. They don’t fall apart the way a normal paint does when over thinned. You can just sort of dust it on and it will still lighten. This does take a bit of practice. Finally I suggest Burnished Gold (Cit) or Gold (VMC) for the final highlight. Just use a little bit on any hard edges to reflect the light. These four elements lead to a rich and inviting gold like this: