Some thoughts on Non Metallic Metal (NMM) with Paolo di Poce

Non Metallic Metal – the PRELUDE

Hello to all. This is my first tutorial I’ve written for this blog, and I hope will be useful for people like me who has just started to paint in a more complex way than when playing war games. Just remember this is only one way to paint non metallic metal or indeed any other element. If you like it, you can use it as a starting point, or modify this adding something else.

In these years I have attended several courses with some great painters like Alfonso Giraldes, Pepa Saavedra and Rusto. Each one of them taught me (or at least he/she tried hahaha) something special and personal.

non metallic metal

the full bust from FeR Miniatures

This is Joan Of Arc, sculpted by Pedro Fernandez for FeR Miniatures. I really like this model, the sculpting is top class and the cast is simply perfect.


What I took from Alfonso Giraldes lessons is mainly to define each volume of the figure, basically making a sketch (like drawing on paper) using black and white. This is probably one of the most important phases of the painting process. I obviously suggest you to join this workshop with Alfonso because it will give you a different way to approach your hobby. He doesn’t teach you what you have to do, there is no step by step process but he will open your brain and give you an alternative way to go. Draw shadows and lights and decide which you like and which ones to delete. Of course it depends on what kind of light and surface you decided to replicate in your painting.

joan of arc nmm

the initial sketch

Your drawing will guide you to the process of light and shadowing. It will be quite easy using diluted colours because they won’t cover the colours below. The key to this work is make contrast, using a very dark black (my favourite is the model colour) and bright white (GW white is fine but I suggest Titanium White from Liquitex or Winsor & Newton), and do not be afraid to make mistakes or a mess, everything can be corrected further down the line.

How can you decide what light and what reflection are correct? Basically look around you and choose a reference. Take in mind a metal surface reflects light in a different way than other materials, so a complex volume would be difficult to handle… basically you have to consider how much stronger is the light, where it comes from and it’s refraction from objects and their surfaces.

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A polished armor will reflect a much bright and larger light surface than an opaque one and probably you will see reflections of nearby objects. Do you remember the Excalibur movie? Armour styles and materials are different from each other: Mordred, Lancelot, Arthur.


After you have done the sketch, you can relax yourself doing the face. She is a young girl so will have a clean and bright face. I created a basic colour using a red Andrea, Scale 75 deep blue, a yellow scale75, adding a little white when needed. Basically you choose the mix you prefer, if you want  a Joan in Miami Beach you could use more red and white, if you want to make a Joan in Transylvania you could use less red and more blue and white.

Then we are going to shade using base color + brown color in the lower part of the face and on sides  then a very diluted layer with basic color + red. Use the base color for fading and blending areas between areas of light and shadow. To highlight just add white to the base colour (or a clear skintone) and a bit of satin to have a brighter and shinier skin.

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The process is simple because I do not need to add textures or wrinkles or scars to the face. She will appear ready to battle and beautiful. I then paint the interior eye with a clear flesh colour, then add a red line at the bottom of the eyelid and one brown line under the upper eyelid.

I Also add a make-up effect using base colour + a little bit of blue and red vallejo model air using a brush. I use model air when I need  a more liquid colour on a base colour, almost using them as an ink. On the lips just work with base color tonality adding some red to obtain a pink tone.


For doing a NMM we will use a miniature victim, in this case the chosen will be a pegaso gladiator bust. We will do two different versions of NMM, a golden one and a metallic on

For gold we begin to give a base of Model Colour English Uniform on all the (black) surfaces. Then I add GW Bubonic Brown or Gold Brown as first light. Then use Skull White and Titanium White (I ‘ve used the Winsor & Newton one) for maximum point of light. Use Bubonic Brown (or Gold Brown by Model Colour) if you lose the Yellow tonality. Then I apply a layer (with a drop of water) of Winsor & Newton Sunshine Yellow, a kind of orange ink which is useful to add some warmth to the overall tone. Don’t add too much water or you will lose the intensity. Basically you have sectors of colour with sparkles of light.

If you want to change effect, you can go with vertical lines of Bubonic/Gold Brown and pure yellow ink simulating a reflection of some objects.

Use a brush with a good tip (I use Da Vinci Maestro 1 and 2) and carefully draw lines, without blending them. This will create an effect of “movement” on the surface. You can use W&N Yellow ink on base color, or drawing white lines and then adding Inc for a shiny effect. Remember using black in the shadow because you need contrast.

It is predominantly down to changing the colour recipe for different types of NMM so the following is how I approach Steel over a black undercoat, then we use Deep Blue (scale 75) + Caspian Blue (scale 75) on all the surface. Use pure black for shadows . Add white gradually on the base colour  and blend the colour, moving from shadow area to light area, adding white whilst moving towards the light.

It’s very important to use a grey colour (black and white works) for blending  with white sparkles because you don’t want a blue or ice looking armour, but a feeling of steel.

This process is long, you have to mix the colour and blend the colours gently. Use Titanium White for maximum sparkle of light. Use  diluted Winsor & Newton Cobalt ink to achieve a  bluish tone.

Now if you want you can draw vertical lines with black model colour and blend them using base color + white.


Other options:


Flat colour, with central light. Basically go from left to right I used the following process:

1)English uniform

2)English uniform + bubonic brown or gold brown

3)bubonic brown + white

4)pure Titanium white

5)point 3

6)point 2

7)point 1

Or, if you want, add another light on the previous example.

Just blend the new area , creating a central shadow which is less dark than the lateral shadow areas (basically is base colour).


As we have seen before, we start painting all the surface with Deep Blue + Caspian Blue, covering the sketch.

Use white (or you can try with clear skintone) to lighten the volume and base + black (and pure black ) for maximum shadow. As you can see, the shadow area is the same as the initial sketch.

Here we can see the starting process on the arm:

non metallic metal

here we see the unblended and coarse lines that will make the reflective surface

Always turn the model 360 degrees in your hand and see if the effect is beginning to work. Add sparkle of light using Titanium White. If you want to recover the blue effect, use a Cobalt Ink (Liquitex or Winsor & Newton works great).

Now we add a change of colour. Take the base colour (Caspian Blue) and add a green ink (I used Liquitex Phthalocyanine Green).  You will obtain a green water colour. I also used a little bit of Emerald Alchemy (Scale 75 colour) which is a metallic and it works really nice adding some reflective and shiny effect.

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I added some scratches on the front plate and I ‘ve painted a point of light. Basically you paint an X with white and you blend it. Now we can blur the shoulder, adding the new color shades.

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Now add the purple in some places, for variety, and the paint fading back with green. If you want you can add some scratches on its shell. Draw a black line outlines with white.

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the finished armour

I hope you enjoyed this simple tutorial. I’m not a professional but I think it may be a good place to start if you want to try something new. I thank Jay Martin for the opportunity he gave me, although I must apologise for the quality of the images as I had none better at time of writing, maybe the next time!!

Always remember have fun with colours!


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