Friday, October 12, 2012

Taste test: Survey says...

This is going to be a different sort of post (as if a post about cardboard and toilet paper was not unusual enough!).  And it is not a survey.  It is just a little window into why I made a fundamental choice in my overall technique.

That technique would be NMM, or Non-metallic metals.  Since there is so much debate and vitriol over this topic on the web, I want to make it known that I am not advocating anything, or putting anything down.  This is strictly about my own personal choice.

People have all sorts of reasons for choosing one over the other, and I will not bore you by repeating them here.  I'd rather be painting anyway!

My choice was primarily based in my training.  That is decades of work in watercolors, pastels, acrylics, and oils.  There are no metallic paints in these mediums that were ever part of my original training.  You had to simulate the look of metal by dealing with contrasts and reflected light/colors.  This is basically what NMM is, just on a 3D surface.  It was only natural for me to choose this method, and it has been great fun over the years.

In the last 12 years, I have experimented here and there with metallics, but never liked using them, or the results.  Again, I have seen other people do incredible things with them, and I salute them.  It's just not for me.  I will continue to experiment, though. :-)

Recently, I had thought of using my 2 LOTR armies as laboratories in which I would conduct many experiments with metallic paints.  It was not really the best choice, since those figures are not as well sculpted or cast as most figures.

In this example, I have some side by side pictures of the original Galdrhim knights in metallics, and then in the repainted NMM version from yesterday.

I am pretty sure you can determine which is which.  If I have been spectacularly clever, and you don't see it right away, the NMM figure is on the left.  Both of these figures are at the same stage of "shaded basecoat" and glazing.

I used the same set of colors that were used on the 'color test' infantry figure that was posted a few weeks ago.  My favorite aspect of NMM is being able to put so many different colors and hues into my shading.  For instance, I used the same color of the cloak in some of the darker areas of the metals.  I did the same with the umber tones, and even the ground, where I incorporated more greenish hues.

I will play around with these shades much more in the finishing stages, as well as working on the highlights and reflected light.  In contrast, the metallics on the right were much more limited.  I even noticed at the time that my lightest silver was, in fact, a dark grey!  It was a big surprise.  In the future, I will experiment by using a metallic medium to turn any color into a metallic color.

This could be important, as I don't like the way metallics look when you do a lot of shading in an area, or try to mix regular colors in with them to tint them.  Yes, you can use washes to tint metallics more re or green etc., but it is not quite the same as my usual NMM.

Since time is a major issue now, with the tournament only weeks away, I need to go with the technique that can get me to the finish line in a predictable way.  I promise that I will continue to experiment. My Chaos Dwarf army is the best candidate for that at the moment.

Back to some images that show what I was able to complete at the Dragon Shoppe!

Much more to come!  My big tasks upcoming for the elves will be flesh tones and shields, so I have a better idea of where to go with the cloaks and armor.  Stay tuned!


  1. I really prefer the way you do the NMM, it is so much brighter and vibrant, it really helps bring the miniature to life.

    1. Thanks! That is a big appeal to me. Even the store where we have been doing our test games can get a bit dark at night, and the figures stand out much more with the NMM than with the dingier metallic paints.

  2. Oh I have seen that vitriol first hand with the so-called, Non-metallic metals (I really hate that term), back in 2003 when I decided to paint my Beastmen army for the Chicago GT in the scheme. Some people loved it from a color scheme and that not a single miniature in the army looked alike, every one of them was converted, but some people hated it with a passion because it was painted that way. Mostly I think it is jealousy, lol. I'm self-taught, and learned so much about painting from doing that army, back then I barely knew what a wash was, and glazing was not some I knew very much about, but I was doing it. You do it so much better than me, I would continue with that form of painting if I was you. Its your style, much like Joe Orteza or Mike Butcher have their own styles.

    I'm much improved since 2003 and the last army that I did in NMM, but I've been thinking about returning to it. Even though I have had some success taking numerous awards with my Khorne Demon army in metallics, I don't like painting them as I have trouble getting consistency and pop out of them. And lets face it most of the places we play in are very dark. If you want your army to standout it needs to pop, not disappear in the darkness. And what is cooler yet is that I have mixed the two styles, when I do a sort of colored enamel painting in a NMM style on my Chaos army.

    1. It is too bad that people get so riled up about this whole thing. I am not sure why they can't just let both methods exist, and appreciate what they have to offer...

  3. Sometimes I like NMPT (non-metalled paint techniques), other times not so much. What I've determined is that it's a combination of the particular situation in which it's used, and how well it's executed. I suppose that last part should be a given, but, what the hell.

    There are times that NMPT will look amazing, and other times that, regardless of the quality of the application, it just won't cut the mustard.

    Generally I feel whatever is best is what the artist doing it likes the most - for myself I use both NM and metallic paint techniques most of the time. Not necessarily because I think it always looks better than NMPT, which I cannot execute in any great way, but because it (to my eyes) yields a nicer result than just using metallics, without all the work and hundreds of hours of learning NMPTs so that they come out looking like yours or Stew Sayers or other really good painters.

    1. It really stems from being a watercolor/pastel painter for me. It was just natural to paint minis in this way for me :-)