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Dwarfology (Part VI)

A new year has begun, but that doesn't mean that we should forget the best part of the year that passed!

Concerning me, Dwarfology (I know, the name is weird but at this point, you should’ve understood my fetish for weird names...) is one of my favourite things of 2019!

I love creating hobby contents, and this easy blog column is always refreshing to me: brief, simple and kitsch tutorials to delight your coffee-breaks or any spare moment of your daily routine. I promise to do more and more Dwarfology episodes, this year!

As you may know, we are really putting our hearts into making new videos for our YouTube channel (in order to train ourselves for our upcoming Patreon page), and I thought that it could be useful to integrate them with a Dwarfology post, to better explain the process you see on the video.

This time, the topic of our latest video is metals, in specific: fast, shiny, bright metals.

It's a simple way to paint all those simple surfaces like chainmail and similar, and I think that despite (believe it or not!) this process requires a very few time and efforts, the result is really good.

Before explaining the technique in-depth, here is the latest video tutorial!


I love metallic colours, I think I've already said that many times before.

Ok, NMM is an incredible technique and requires a lot of skills, but in my opinion, nothing screams fantasy miniatures like the natural sheen of metallic pigments!

Don't underestimate these colours, because even whit a few steps, they can give you a lot of satisfaction!

As always, I started with a smooth basecoat. In specific, I mixed Citadel Iron Warrior with Citadel Chainmail, in equal parts, and I dilute the mix with a bit of water (approx 70% colour mix, 30% water). I don't dilute metallic colours too much, because I don't want that the metallic pigment separates too much: if you dilute too much a metallic colour, it's difficult to obtain a smooth and uniform basecoat; moreover, it may happen that a highly diluted metallic colour just flow on all the recesses, spreading metallic pigments all over the surface (I think that metallic colours have a more capillarity capacity than normal acrylics)! So I dilute the colour mix just enough to be sure not to paint with a dense, blob of pigments. Give 2-3 layers, instead of a single thick one.

A little tip: the natural brightness of metallic pigments can easily mislead you. When they are hit by light, they shine and make you think that the basecoat is more uniform than how it actually is, so for this reason, I usually turn the miniature in all the direction, to see if the basecoat is really smooth!

As always, after having painted a smooth basecoat, I set the first shadows of the surface with a wash. In specific, I mixed in equal parts Nuln Oil Gloss and Agrax Earthshade Gloss. I prefer to work with gloss washes, on metals, because not only they seem to flow better on recesses, but they also preserve the natural brightness of metallic pigment: I will "turn off" this brightness, in the next steps, but I want to have a perfect control on which areas will be less bright, and which will maintain (and increase) their metallic sheen. For this reason, at least at this step, I want to keep the shiny sheen of the metallic basecoat.

After the wash is dry, I need to define better all the recesses of the chainmail: despite the Citadel washes are great, in general, of course they don't grant perfectly defined shadows. So, to satisfy my obsession for a defined painting, I took some pure Citadel Contrast Black Templar (you can use any kind of black ink) and with a sharp-bristled brush I patiently painted all the recesses that were not defined enough.

It's time, now, to paint some shades on our metals!

I think that the secret of 32mm miniatures painting, and metals painting in general, is contrast, and as much as possible I always try to increase it. Metallic colours give us the opportunity to play with contrast on a different level: not only dark/light, and not only warm/cold, but also *drumrolls*...shiny/matt!

I have to confess: this is not totally flour of my bag (as we say here in Italy).

As many of you, I was enlighted about metals with the legendary Automato's Tutorial.

Unfortunately, I've found only this link about it that has no images, but even just the theory part is gold: give it a read.

So, I was saying: contrast.

When I paint metals with metallic colours, I paint in the same way that I (try to..) paint a NMM techniques: in specific, I choose small areas as the focal point, that will be the most bright and shiny as possible, and I darken a lot the other areas, usually with normal acrylics, in order to make them not only darker, but also more opaque.

Concerning this chainmail in particular, I took some Citadel Contrast Black Templar and I diluted it with an equal part of its specific medium (Technical Contrast Medium, or something like that...as it seems, my fetish for weird names has been imprinted by GW, long time ago...). Then, I painted several layers, using a normal glaze technique, on all those areas that I want to be darker. Take your time, and paint subtle layers: you can always increase a dull layer, but it's way more complicated to restore a too covering one! I focused mainly on the areas below the beard (such an impressive beard casts a deep shadow, indeed!) and on the side of the shoulders.

It's time, now, to add some shiny sheen to your chainmail! I took the basecoat mix and I added some old, trusty Mithrill Silver. I diluted the mix (approx 70% colour, 30% water), not too much as you can see: it's not time yet for glazing, now you have only to set the highlights of the metal, and you need a strong contrast. I decided to focus on the left side of the Dwarf's chest and on top of his shoulders, painting with this mix the scales one by one (if you paint on recesses, don't worry. Let the colour dry well, then use Contrast Black Templar to restore the black lining).

I then increased the brightness on my focal points: I mixed some Mithrill Silver with Vallejo Metal Medium (one of the brightest deity of my personal pantheon), and I diluted the mix more than I did in the previous steps. Here, I started to paint these lights as I normally do with normal acrylics, so I dilute a lot the colour and I paint subtle layers with the glaze technique. Keep a very few amount of colour on the bristles of your brush, as always with glazes, and move the brush strokes in the direction you want the colour to be more evident.

for the final lights, I used pure Vallejo Metal Medium, which is comparable to a metallic white, and I painted very small touch of this super bright colour where I wanted to have violent, insolent lights. Contrast is the secret of steel, and Vallejo Metal Medium is the god of metallic contrast.

So, here we are: a shiny chainmail, painted in a few time with good results.

The best way to start this new, shiny, year!