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Author Topic: NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)  (Read 71081 times)

Offline quadrille

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« on: October 10, 2005, 01:29:18 PM »
This tutorial will hopefully give you a better idea about NMM theory and how to paint it. 

1. What is NMM?

  Unless you've been living in a troll cave over the last few years you will most likely have heard about the miniature painting technique called NMM (well technically, if the troll cave had internet access - as I hear most state-of-the-art troll caves have - you'd have heard of it anyway!). Though the pros and cons of NMM have been the subject of endless discussions in the painting community already, I think a more detailed description of the technique as such would be suiting in this context.
  NMM stands for non-metallic metal, and traces it's origins to classical 2d painting. Even though it's rather new in the mini painting context, the technique has been around for ages, long before metallic paints or minis for that sake existed. It was mastered already by the renaissance and baroque painters several hundred years ago. I'm going to be honest with you and say I don't have a clue as to exactly when and why someone got the bright idea to paint miniatures like this; probably it was to save money by not having to buy all those fancy metallic paints ;). Enough of history lessons, simply put NMM is about painting the metal areas of your miniatures using paints without metallic pigments, i.e. greys and white for silver/steel, browns and yellows for gold a.s.o. The theory is simple enough, but mastering the technique requires quite a bit of practise and a very good understanding of reflections and the rules of light physics. I might as well say it right away: If you're searching for a quick way to paint you army or wonder if you can combine dry brushing with NMM you're looking at the wrong place. You should only ever consider trying this technique if you're serious about it and prepared to spend quite a bit of time with each model (hence it's rarity amongst actual non-display armies). To get the best possible results with NMM, you should know how to blend the colors decently. There are many different ways of doing this, none of which, unfortunately, will be covered in this tutorial.

2. The non-debatable rules of metals (or why some NMM just doesn't look right).

  The most common mistake/inability by people trying out NMM is absence of knowledge about reflections. Although being a rather complex subject, there are a number of set rules that will ease the process. NMM is really all about breaking your model down into basic geometrical shapes, and then using those as a guide for how to paint your miniature. Getting entirely realistic reflections is near impossible, so you'll have to generalise and simplify. To help you out I've done a few 3d renders showing how differently shaped objects reflect light.


First, a sphere. Note how the transition between the area reflecting light and the shadowed area follows the shape of the sphere. If you're simulating sunlight you will have a round highlight in pure white in the direction of the sun. The very darkest area is not necessarily found at the very bottom of the sphere, the ground will often reflect some light thus making the bottom slightly brighter. Some objects that can be compared to a sphere are breastplates or the spearmen shields.


A cylinder and a cone. The reflections and shadows will almost always follow the direction of the object; i.e. if the cylinder is standing you'll get perpendicular reflections, and vice versa. The reflection of the light source will be "dragged out" along the object (meaning that you will never get a circular reflection). Leg and arm armour is often cylindrical, helmets can be conical (often something in between a cone and a hemi-sphere).   


A box. Wherever there's a sharp edge there tends to be a contrast between light and shadow as well. To increase the effect you can build up with lighter colours towards the edge on the bright side, and darker colours on the dark side, so that you get your very brightest highlight on the reflecting side of the edge meeting the darkest shadow on the other. Please note that even though this technique is commonly used in NMM it lacks a definite equivalence in real life. Highlights do not generally strive toward edges, but can be painted like that and still add a very metallic effect. Pretty much all objects with edges can be painted like boxes, including for example swords.


A concave shape. If you imagine the model being lit from above (as you normally do) concave shapes will be brightest at the bottom and darkest at the top. If the object is smooth, the transitions should be too. Which area of your concave shape that'll be brightest depends on where the imagined light source is located more exactly, but usually just building up with brighter colors towards the bottom will be sufficient. Concave shapes are found for example on those knee and elbow protection thingys that full plate armours usually have. Maybe you've seen people paint scratches in their NMM? Well these are also basically long and thin concave shapes, usually done by first painting a very dark line and then just beneath it a line in pure white.

3. Painting the miniature.

Ok, now the fun begins: First go get a nice mini with lots of metal parts. For the Empire, the greatswords, knights and pistoliers are probably the best alternatives. I chose the greatswords; in this tutorial I'm painting the greatsword champion model which I think is a great sculpt. Give the model a black undercoat.

Step 1

Paint all of the (steel) armour with Codex grey or Vallejo's Cold grey if you prefer. Make sure you leave black lines between the different parts and details of the armour.

Step 2 

Add some white to the grey to get a brighter tone. Paint the areas that should reflect light, try to get as smooth blends as possible. This step is very important, since it decides the basic positions of the reflections. You need to have an idea about where the light comes from, It's most often best to imagine a lightsource at about 70 degrees and slightly to one side. In my case I imagined a lightsource slightly to the right of the model on the front side as well as on the backside. Obviously, this is not entirely realistic since you've normally only got one sun, but the back would look very dull if there was no light to be reflected. Here is a picture with comments indicating which areas can be likened to which primitive forms.   

Step 3

Now add some black to the grey so you get a darker shade. Try to figure out which areas the light wouldn't catch and paint them (again: smoothly).

Step 4

Build up further highlights with a mix slightly brighter than the one used in step 2.

Step 5

Much like the previous step, but this time going down the brightness scale again, define the very deepest shadows with a mix containing more black (the amount depends on how dark/bright you want the metal to look, if you're painting very dark metal this step could use almost pure black).

Step 6

Add a final highlight of pure white. On some areas it can look good if you leave relatively crisp edges, i.e. you can skip the blending to a certain extent in this step (look at the highlight on the brestplate to see what I mean). 

Step 7

Paint any gold parts in much the same way. I used vomit brown highlighted with golden yellow followed by mixes of golden yellow and white, and shaded with bestial brown followed by scorched brown. When painting gold NMM you should never use a highlight of pure white, since gold can't reflect pure white in the same way as silver and steel.

Step 8

Finish the rest of the mini :)


If you're feeling particularly bold you can even try painting non-metal parts with NMM techniques, such as I did with the leather on this model.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial or even found it useful. Whether you actually try the technique or not, you might have got a better understanding of it so that you can point out to people that they're doing it the wrong way ;) As for me, I'm off to buy some metallic paints..
« Last Edit: August 09, 2006, 08:23:09 PM by quadrille »

Offline WickerNipple

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2005, 03:51:21 PM »
Excellent work!
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Offline bloodbawler

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2005, 03:57:06 PM »
Another brilliant article for Workshop! You actually convinced me that NMM isn't all that hard :wink:.
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Offline Sir Edmund Richter

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2005, 06:57:42 PM »
Very nice article and a wonderful looking model. Unfortunately that is far above my ability.

Offline General Helstrom

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2005, 08:42:27 PM »
Good work on the 3D models, they're a great reference. Let's see this in the Workshop!
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Offline Heretic 01

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2005, 10:19:56 PM »
Great article quadrille, it looks pretty easy the way you explained it.
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Offline Calvin

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2005, 12:54:24 AM »
This is great. I still dont think I'll use NMM, but I understand the technique better now! I'm sure knowing more can only help you with what you already know.
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Offline Archaon

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2005, 01:20:19 AM »
I used NMM on a GW Eowyn, and it didn't turn out horrible.
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Offline boca majstor

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2005, 07:15:17 AM »
I'll try it out in a few days.. can't wait!
quadrille, I'll paint knights panther in pretty much the same way 'eavy metal did. But, how do I paint the barding? The reflection changes as you move the model. Whould I try to copy the real metal reflection from a metal painted model, or follow the shape-based instructions you have given above?
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Offline lordmetroid

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2005, 07:49:00 AM »
I'll stick with Metal Metal, and do different highlights in different levels of reflective metals. That way, I belive one can see reflections from wherever you stand and it doesn't look bad.

Offline fp

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2005, 09:21:40 AM »
perfect article, perfect sample!
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Offline quadrille

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2005, 12:54:50 PM »
Thanks for the comments guys! I aprreciate it!

Quote from: boca majstor
I'll try it out in a few days.. can't wait!
quadrille, I'll paint knights panther in pretty much the same way 'eavy metal did. But, how do I paint the barding? The reflection changes as you move the model. Whould I try to copy the real metal reflection from a metal painted model, or follow the shape-based instructions you have given above?


Looking at a model painted with metallic colors isn't a bad idea. In fact, a technique some people use is to take a picture of the model they're about to paint before undercoating it, then look at the picture for reference later.
If you want to do it the theoretical way you first need to decide roughly where your light is coming from, after that it's easier to figure out . Say you imagine a light source (the sun) in front of the model and at about 70 degrees.

Actually the empire barding lends itself pretty good to NMM, since it has very well defined edges and lots of nice concave shapes to practise blending. I haven't done NMM on the empire horse, but I did one for the mod I'm working on. The rules I mentioned about concave shapes applies, even though concavity is horizontal rather than vertical.

Offline Clarkarias

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2005, 02:49:05 PM »
Excellent Excellent article and pictures.  And the model turned out nice too!!

I'm the lazy guy that drybrushed chainmail over black, but I might try this with my next painting extraviganza!!
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Offline boca majstor

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2005, 05:44:25 PM »
And an another thing.  The metal on the model looks a bit greenish, brownish.. Did you do that on purpose, or my monitor doesn't work?
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Offline quadrille

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2005, 09:59:20 PM »
That's probably got to do with the camera and my levels adjustment in PS. There's only grey, black and white in the mixes.

Offline Swan-of-War

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2005, 12:31:19 PM »
Excellent article Quadrille - I've been inspired to try this out on my army-in-process.

Thanks -

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Offline Melvin the Melvin

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2005, 12:20:45 PM »
Terrific! :clap: Now, if somebody actually made a good tutorial on blending that actually explains HOW to mix colours together rather than just say you have to do it, I would be in heaven. I could never get that.
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Offline quadrille

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NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #17 on: October 13, 2005, 03:28:12 PM »
Hmm, I think there's a part about blending in this nice tutorial by GD-winner Vincent Hudon.

Offline quadrille

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Re: NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2006, 08:26:54 PM »
Sorry to necromance this one, but wasn't it supposed to be added to the workshop?  :-)

I also did a couple of small fixes to the tutorial.

Offline Warlord

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Re: NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2006, 01:00:55 AM »
Yes, I definitely think it should be. Hmmmm.

BTW Well Done! Fantastic model, I could never do that!
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Offline Manowar

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Re: NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2006, 02:37:12 PM »
once again it's happy hour, time to slit wrists!

That is astounding work. Fabulous. Sheesh i suck.

Love it, hoe you do the rest of the unit :D
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Offline Vivendi

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Re: NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2006, 07:52:06 PM »
Looks very nice, will try it on one of my figures also.
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Offline duckman

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Re: NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2006, 10:20:56 PM »
Brilliant!!! This is the first tutorial on NMM I have seen that actually explains it in terms that a dumbass like me understands. That mini is awesome btw. I am going to try this as soon as I have a moment spare.
Great article, well done.

cheers
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Offline Siamtiger

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Re: NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2006, 10:36:21 PM »
Great tutorial, and a great idea converting the champion with the knight head.

keep it up, great work :)

Offline ieloks

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Re: NMM-pire (tutorial on non-metallic metal)
« Reply #24 on: August 18, 2006, 08:15:12 AM »
A most excellent tutorial!
I too would like to have it in the workshop section, or stickyfied at least, so I can easily have it at hand when I need it.
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