Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Painting Grubby Looking Metal: Part 1

This is the first installment in a few painting How-To posts. This first post will be the simpler technique of the two. It looks excellent on smaller models, such as orcs and bestigor.

This pic shows what we're aiming to accomplish here. Grubby looking metal. This post will focus on the armor, but I use the same technique on all metal.
Here's a another example:
And one more:
 You'll note in the pics that much of the rest of the model is painted. That's because typically the armor is the outermost layer of detail on a model, and I paint from the innermost details outwards. What that means is that I start with the skin/fur, then go to the clothing, then end with the armor.

Here's our starting point for this How-To. The model is all set to have the armor painted.
 The first step is to outline the armor. I always do this with black. The only parts that really need to be painted are the ends/edges. By that I mean: places where armor plates end, or meet. For instance, in this pic you can see where the shoulder armor meets the armor plates that go down and cover his biceps. Also, you can see where the bicep plates stop and his skin begins; as well as where the shin plates meet his skin (to name a few).

The purpose of step one is to create a distinct black line anywhere that armor meets non-armor, or where larger armor sections meet other armor in distinct breaks.
Step two is to basecoat the armor. I'm still using Boltgun Metal for this, but the new Citadel equivalent is Leadbelcher. Be careful when painting this on to leave a super thin black line around the places where the armor either ends, or meets other armor plates. The goal is to leave a thin line from step one exposed.

Once this step is done, you should have nice black-lined armor plates on your model.
Step three is to wash/ink the armor. For this model, I'm using Devlan Mud. Before Devlan Mud arrived, I typically used Brown Ink or Chestnut Ink for this purpose. I've tried Agrax Earthshade, and Nuln Oil from the new Citadel range; both work just as well.

The brown based colors (Devlan Mud/Agrax Earthshade) add a poorly maintained, and tarnished look to the final piece. The black based colors (Nuln Oil) add nice shadow/detail, but don't lend the ill-cared-for appearance. The latter is great on Empire and Bretonnians, while the former is great on Beastmen and Ogres.

You want to lay this on pretty heavily, but be careful not to put too much around the edges. You don't want to mess up the painted areas around the armor by getting too much ink settled in those spots. I usually brush along the armor plate edges a few times, not letting much of it pool there. That will add color and depth, which will look just fine when coupled with the black-line effect left there from steps one and two.
Note here that step three is an excellent place to mess around with different wash/ink shades, in order to add a different feel to your model. For instance; if you're doing Chaos Warriors, you can help distinguish which Chaos Power they're associated with. For Khorne, add red paint to your wash before painting it on. Agrax Earthshade or Nuln Oil with a red tone can lend much to your theme. The same goes for the other Chaos Powers as well. Washing with blue, green, or purple/pink (depending on the Chaos Power you're going for) will make a significant difference. This doesn't just apply to Chaos, but it's an easy example.

Step four, time to highlight the armor. Here the goal is to add darker metal-colored highlights back to the armor plates. I used Boltgun Metal (equivalent to the current Leadbelcher), and painted all the spots that I wanted to be metal again. Be sure to water down the paint. Always start on the places that you want to be darker, where the areas inked in step three start to fade back into actual metal colors.

When painting with metallic paints, follow the same basic principles that you would with non-metallics. When you water it down, less paint pigments will be put on the model. I think doing this kind of work with metal tones is much easier than doing so with non-metallic tones. Perhaps this is a good place to start perfecting your blending techniques. If you over do it with the metal colors, you can always go back and apply watered down ink/wash to cover it.

You want to essentially paint in layers here. Each layer using paint that is less and less watered down, until the color you are using is what you're actually painting down; not some thinned, partially transparent version of it. This is the basic technique to getting smooth blends.

This pics shows the model with the first metallic highlight layer painted on.
One important thing to note regarding step four: You can greatly vary the end result by changing how much of the armor you leave inked. If you leave only a very small sliver of the armor still inked, it gives a more used appearance; whereas if you leave more of the armor in the ink shade than highlighted with metal, then it lends a dirtier/grittier feel to the final model.

Step five, continue the highlights. This step is almost exactly the same as step four, except I used a lighter metal tone. I go with Chainmail, but the new Citadel equivalent is Ironbreaker.

Follow the same technique used in step four, but leave some of the previous color exposed. I only do this interim highlight step on larger plates of armor. The shoulder, thigh, and shin plates were the only ones I applied it to. The bicep plates, belt plates, and wrist plates were left alone here. There just isn't enough surface on the smaller sections for this to be worthwhile.
The final step is the last highlight. It's the same technique, with an even lighter metal color; in my case that was Mithril Silver. The new Citadel range equivalent is Runefang Steel. All pieces of the armor get this highlight. Follow the same blending technique, leaving most of the previous color still exposed.

Once done with that blending technique, go back and hit all the raised edges and rivets of the armor with this same color. You just want to put a tiny bit of the paint on in each of these spots, but it'll make a big difference.
Occasionally I'll finish a model this way, and I'll think it looks great. Then I'll hit it with some spray-on clear-coat, only to have that final highlight (step 6) all of sudden look really stark. It's disconcerting when this happens, but easily fixed. If this occurs to you, and it bugs you as much as it bugs me; there's no need to worry. Go back at the model with the middle metallic tone of paint (Chainmail/Ironbreaker). Water the paint down a bit, and paint it only over the stark edges of the offending highlight layer.

VoilĂ ! You have super sweet looking armor on your model.
The same general steps apply to the chainmail you see on the model, it's just a ton simpler and quicker. Instead of blending the highlights, simply use a drybrush technique. Otherwise, it's the same colors and number of steps.

Another important note about this technique is that it works the same for yellow metals. Just switch up your color palette, but apply the same techniques. I use the following colors for my layers: Tin Bitz, Dwarf Bronze, Burnished Gold, and lastly Burnished Gold mixed with a tiny bit of Mithril Silver. You'll have to look up what the new Citadel equivalents are, if you aren't already aware. When using these types of metal colors, bear in mind that your wash/ink color should be green, not black or brown.

Part 2 of this post blog post will be an expansion of the technique. I only ever do it on larger models; such as Minotaurs, Ogres, and the like. The additional steps will fall in between steps three and four. I'll show you how I add in a rust effect there.


heychadwick said...

I agree that brown wash is great. I usually did a black and then brown look. Might try it without black.

Domus said...

Nice tutorial John. I find when doing silver I always add a bit of purple wash to my black wash. Something I picked up from a tutorial I read once from Jacob Rune Nielsen.

It just helps the shadows not be pure black, but still very dark.

PsychosisPC said...

I try to avoid pure black.

The purplish wash is good way to pick up some sky like reflections on the topside if that is what you are looking for, thats very much a technique used in the so called NMM. For corrosion, I like to use Vallejo Smoke, not to be confused with that Tamiya shit. I will also use beastial brown (or whatever the hell they call it now)/or an orange based brown in a very thin wash.

Beastial brown also works well as a wash on the brass and golden colored metals to help take some of the brightness away.

Doug Meyer said...

Thanks for putting these up. Always helpful to see a step by step for how someone gets a great effect.

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