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3) The "Metals" & the Duke

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23 August 2007page first published

2,256 hits since 23 Aug 2007
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Minidragon Fezian Inactive Member of the Mini-Dragon Painting Service writes:

If there's one thing the Principate faction in Crucible has, it's armor… lots of armor. Not only lots of armor, but lots of very pretty, gothic armor. In this installment of the Army project, I'm going to give you a look at my method for quickly cranking out decent-looking metals.

With metallic paints, I always undercoat with black (if there is going to be lots of silver) or brown (if there is going to be lots of gold). In this case, I went with black. I used two coats of fairly thin black paint (IWM Paints 77-708 Black, to be exact!).

After both coats were dry, I still noticed some little bits here and there that didn't get covered this is fairly common when undercoating figures with a load of tiny details; so it wasn't unexpected. To remedy the problem, I mixed some black ink, some water, some Future floor polish, and some black paint all together no specific ratios, if it covers dark and it's really thin, you have it right and sloppily applied it to each of the figures. Since it's so thin, and it's got that Future in it, it sucks right into the deepest crevices and stays there.

Next, I set the Duke and his henchman (did I mention that I worked on the Duke, the army's commander, and a Spearman at the same time? Well, I did they both have a ton of metal on them, so it would've been silly to do them separate) aside to dry, and played some Battlefield 2142!! That wash takes a while to dry, and BF2142 is a great time-killer!

After about an hour, the two figures were dry and I got back to work. In the first picture, you can see that I liberally drybrushed a darkish silver color onto them. (I used Adiken Iron XPM, but any darkish silver will do - GW Chainmail, the Vallejo equivalent, etc…) I wasn't very careful, though I did make sure I wasn't glopping the paint on there.

When you drybrush, you really do want the brush to be somewhat dry (go figure) if you've got too much paint, you'll just make a mess and have to redo the undercoat.

The next step is to give the figures a dark wash to bring out the detail, and help clear up some of the mess that in inevitable when you drybrush. The mix I used was brown ink, black ink, Future, and water (about 1: .25: 1: 5). You don't want this too dark, or you'll have to go back and do some more drybrushing. Mixing the wash on the thin side is the best bet you can always apply multiple washes to deepen the shadows until you are happy.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of a couple of steps at this point, so you don't get to see what I'm talking about. Sorry.

After that wash had dried, I proceeded to painting the gold bits. Any old gold color works, as long as you like it. I used Adiken Gold, which I don't really like the coverage is poor. I used my highly developed artistic sense of balance and… well, I really just painted things gold that I thought might look good that way. It's important that you don't get carried away with this sort of thing, though. Sometimes I just start painting away and soon what I intended to be a shiny silver knight is looking distinctly golden. That's-a no good!!!

Again, I forgot to photograph this step.

To bring some definition to the gold parts, I mixed some brown ink, Vallejo Smokey Ink, Future, and water (1: 1: 1: 5). I painted this liberally onto the golden areas. I was careful to keep it on the gold, though it can quickly make a mess of your pretty iron/silver if you don't pay attention.

Gold areas defined

With the brown ink dry and the golden bits looking a bit more defined, it was time to do some highlights. For the silver metal parts, I just used thinned silver paint (1:1 Adiken Sterling XPM and water for me… any nice bright silver for you) to paint the raised bit of the armor, and places that I thought would a) catch the light or b) contribute to the bright-and-shiny look I wanted. Again, don't get carried away here… it's easy to lose your shadows if you get too happy with the silver.

The silver highlighting went very quickly (honestly - about 45 seconds per figure), so I went ahead and highlighted the gold before taking the next photo (nothing busts up my painting groove like stopping to take pictures!!!). For the gold highlights, I mixed some silver and gold paint together (2: 1 Gold: Silver), and again painted this onto the high points and places that I thought needed it. You can see the result in the next photo.


At this point, the metals are pretty much done! All that remains is to go back and clean up any messy areas, perhaps do some black-lining, or used some carefully controlled ink to do the lining for you. Other things I do at this point might be to hit the shaded areas with another dark wash (if I don't think they look shaded enough) or do a bit more highlighting (for that extra gleam!!). The next photo shows the metals nearly complete I think after taking the shot I went back and darkened the scalloped detail on the Duke, and maybe touched up a few other places.

Metals nearly complete

Using all that ink leaves a miniature looking all glossy and (in my opinion) nasty. The final step for my metals happens when I hit them with the varnish. I first use some cheap satin varnish (whatever is on sale at the craft store will do) to protect the figures and knock the shine down a little. The real work is accomplished by the Testors Dullcote that I use last this stuff will take the shine off that evil ink like nobody's business!! I love the way it flattens the metals, too.