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Befuddled Beginner!

Discussion in 'Just starting...' started by LooseSeal, May 27, 2020.

  1. LooseSeal New Member

    Hi everyone, as you can see from my post count I am a complete beginner here and in painting figures too! I have a few years experience in modelling, and recently got myself a Centurion figure from FeR Miniatures to see if I'd enjoy this side of things too (and something to do while I'm now entering my 10th week stuck at home...). Currently finding myself a little overwhelmed by it all, but that's ok as I was the same with modelling at first too!

    Anyway, on to why I'm actually posting this... so far, I think I understand the very basics of certain things, such as face painting (which I've tried, it ain't great but it's not a complete disaster) but what I'm struggling to work out is how to achieve a metallic finish on the helmet, particularly which paints I need for the task. So this is the product (I don't know how to attach photos here...) - https://ferminiatures.com/shop/magna-historica/centurion-legio-xx-valeria-victrix-britannia-ad-61/ And I really love the clean sheen and how it's done in the product photo there.

    After much reading I think I understand more or less what NMM and TMM mean, but not sure which is more appropriate for what I want to (try to) do. Can anyone advise me about, or perhaps point me in the direction of, which paints/colours would be best for that kind of shiny steel/reflective look? Or maybe I'm asking a bit too much for my beginner level and should just stick to a more basic dull finish using the Vallejo Metal Color I already have?

    Any help greatly appreciated! I've enjoyed painting the face, cloak, crest and leather parts so just want to figure out this metal malarchy! :-D
    Chris Oldfield, malc and oldtrousers like this.
  2. ghamilt1 A Fixture

    Hi Stephen, and welcome.
    I think you made a great choice, as I am a huge fan of FeR's products (no I don't work for them). The picture you included from their site is a fine example of the NMM technique. That is as far as I can tell a technique employed by artists who favour acrylics, and in my opinion is very difficult to pull off successfully. Mind you, I am an oil painter myself, so the whole acrylic thing is a mystery to me, so take that for what it is worth. I am sure there are many acrylic painters that would have a different perspective, and I have great respect for their ability.

    But you asked for advice and I humbly offer a method that works for me. I'll include a picture or two at the end and you can decide for yourself if this advice is worth the digital space I am taking up at the moment.

    I start with Vallejo acrylic paints, black, black-grey and silver. Stating with a thin coat of the black as an under coat (figure is already primed) I apply thin coats of the black-grey mixed with silver, building up layers until I finish with a thin layer of the pure silver acrylic. I'm not too concerned with achieving an obvious gradient here, just trying to build up some layers. Shading with come later.

    After the paint has thoroughly dried ( a process you can hurry along with a hair dryer) I start burnishing, or polishing the metallic suface with an artists blending stump (available at any art supply store) and some graphite powder, which I get by rubbing a 3B or 4B pencil on some paper, and rubbing the blending stump into that until the powder is all over the stump. Keep burnishing until you achieve a smooth, metallic looking finish. After that, I go back in with my oil paint, lamp black or Payne's Grey, and add some shadows by carefully blending the oil paint from the darkest shadows into the lightest bits. The more oil paint you add here, the darker the whole effect becomes, so take your time and check your work as you go. I should point out this only really works for Steel, silvery metallics. The graphite powder doesn't go well with yellow metallics like brass, gold or bronze. So I need to figure out something for that.

    I hope this is helpful in some way. Here are a couple of pictures to help illustrate the final result. Have fun experimenting!!
    43950863_248610062669148_375452292826005504_n.jpg 43742820_747287868939856_6995860362012655616_n.jpg DSCN1444.jpg
    TonyL, Jed, Oda and 3 others like this.
  3. Nap A Fixture

    Hi Stephen


    Good to have you with us

    Go the the WELCONE ABOARD part there are lots to help new members including pictures and messaging


    Do message me if you wish ( moderator ) and I will help all I can

    Darkstar do a great range of metallics which are buff able


    Do a search with keywords on here for painting armour ...there are many variations

    We also have a painting section for both acrylics and oils with lots in

    Oda likes this.
  4. malc PlanetFigure Supporter

    Hi Stephen and welcome.

    I read your post... would be an interesting challenge to get anyone to come down on either NMM or TMM

    I'm a big fan of NMM as i find it less in your face as it were plus it can be a real challenge to get looking right.

    This of course is my opinion which probably means ... not a lot.

    However if you try NMM preserve it's worth it in the end
    Oda likes this.
  5. Kimmo A Fixture

    I'll throw in my two cents. First off, welcome to the wacky world of figure painting. If you are just starting out, I'd stay away from trying out NMM stuff for the time being. If you think face painting can be difficult, NMM will drive you over the edge. You need to get your feet wet first and understand how your paints work (or don't work) and get your skill and comfort levels up so practice with a regular metallic approach. Metal Color shouldn't be giving you a dull finish, they are super shiny compared to Vallejo Model or Game Color metallics (or any other brand). They can be too shiny as a matter of fact. As mentioned, a black base will help bring up the shine. If you're using regular metallics, mix in a touch of an appropriate shade (grey for silvers, tans for gold etc) for your base coat as metallic paints are thin on colour pigment and don't cover well. You can also get tints and different shades this way. You need multiple layers to bring out a good shine, and let the layers dry before adding more. There are also metallic pigments which you can apply with a cotton bud or makeup applicator to get a better shine, but again, these may make things a little too shiny. The shine factor is a matter of taste to be honest, metal dulls with exposure to the elements. You can shade and highlight with metallics as well, gunmetal for shadow and chrome or silver for highlights as an example. I find an ultra thin wash of black helps to boost shine and will give you some good definition. I'd highly recommend watching some of Angel Giraldez's videos (link below), he touches on a lot of different techniques that really help and make you think, especially as a beginner. I've been doing this for several years and still have lots to learn. Patience and practice, plenty of both.


  6. LooseSeal New Member

    Hi guys! First of all thank you for the welcome! And secondly, thank you for the great advice so far and taking the time to give it. It really is appreciated. My only experience of figure painting to date had been at 1/35 and 1/48 scale for dioramas and I'd never really paid it too much attention other than the necessary.

    I think I would like to try the NMM technique eventually, as it does look impressive if it's done right. I do plan to get the other Romans in the FeR collections anyway! I was absolutely amazed at the detail of the casting when it arrived... maybe that's just coming from 1/35 plastic figures though! :-D But I think for the moment I'll stick with something more basic. I'm just going to try following Fernando Ruiz's tutorial on painting a Roman helmet on Youtube, but maybe substituting Metal Color Burnt Iron for something a little shinier. But I also liked your examples and the method you described, Glenn, so I may try that too. I do have 2 faceplates to try on, and no doubt constantly strip down, rather than going straight in for the helmet.

    There is a photo of where I am at the moment. Try not to laugh too hard, haha. It's far from finished and I've definitely made mistakes, but hopefully i can sort some of them out once most of the base colour and detail is down. Had a really tough time trying to figure out how to highlight red without it turning pink...

    Anyway thanks again for the help and welcome!

    Jed, Oda, Paul Kernan and 3 others like this.
  7. Bob Orr Active Member

    The only problem I have with NMM on larger scale figures is to my mind thet only look correct from one viewpoint. If you turn the figre then the painted reflections and shadows don't make much sense. That and the fact that is way beyond my pay grade so far as skill is concerned, has got nothing to do with it! Looks great and works on small scale figures and flats.
    Oda, Blind Pew and DaddyO like this.
  8. Blind Pew A Fixture

    I agree with Bob. Size does matter.... Down the years this question is something I've often struggled with myself. In fact these days I fit the technique to the piece in question. I tend to find small intricate stuff looks better the NMM. Very small, such as a button in 54mm then I'll use printers' ink to give it that pizzazz.

    And, very importantly - NOBODY will be laughing at your stuff. Apart from the fact it looks perfectly fine, we all had to begin somewhere. And you look better than me at the same stage.
    Oda and DaddyO like this.
  9. Paul Kernan A Fixture

    Welcome to our side of the hobby. When you said you feel overwhelmed, I feel your pain......I'm attempting my first piece of armour in 30 years. To say techniques and materials have moved exponetially since those dark ages is an understatement.

    I echo the great advice already given but definitely starting out, keep it simple and find what works for you. I think NMM is a pretty advanced technique that most of us still have not cracked the code on;)

    Depending on the material (resin vs metal) or finish I'm trying to achieve, dictates what I use. With metals you can burnish the surface and use a combination of oil paints (brown, blacks, blues), Printers inks and washes (Tamiya or Gunze Sanyo Smoke). With resin (or metal), you can do the same over an acrylic silver base OR build up the acrylics from a black/brown base to the highest light metal (gold, bronze or silver). There is no wrong way

    You have numerous options (acrylics, enamels, oils) but I always fall back on a great piece of advice given by one of the masters, Danilo Cartacci. Play with different materials and whatever works for that effect then use it. And do not be discouraged or too hard on yourself. Every project is a learning experience. God only knows, most of are still learning(y)
    Oda, Nap, Blind Pew and 1 other person like this.
  10. Gary Morris New Member


    Let me say first off that this is my first day on the site and more or less my first day in researching Figure painting etc.
    So I will ask the question that hopefully others in my position may be thinking.
    What does NMM and TMM mean?


    Oda likes this.
  11. Nap A Fixture

    Hi Gary

    Non Metallic Metal using no metallic colours but colour to give the illusion

    True Metallic Metal .

    There's sone You Tube stuff as always but you can do a search here

  12. Gary Morris New Member

  13. DaddyO A Fixture

    Morning Gary and welcome on board. The acronyms are from the first letters of the techniques. NMM is non metallic metal where no metallic paints are used and the 'shine' and reflections are painted effects made using flat colours in the same way as a traditional flat canvas painting. TMM is True metallic metal where metallic colours are used, but rather than paint a solid block of, say, silver other colours are added to give shadows etc (Much as was described in an earlier post by Gamilt1) Hope this helps :)

    Incidentally NMM is a technique which had its origins in the gaming world of figure painting (Some VERY good painters in this area). Photographing metallic areas effectively is difficult due to reflections; the technique seemed to come to the fore when magazines started publishing large images of figures and it looks spiffing from one direction such as in a photo, but as Brian says it can look a bit 'odd' when the figure is viewed in the round :rolleyes:

    Hope that helps

    ps You can use the search box at the top right hand side of the page to find a whole list of threads with information and examples about both techniques
    Scotty, Oda, Nap and 1 other person like this.

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