Friday, September 26, 2014

H.O.W. TO: Gold NMM tutorial

While not strictly 40K-related, I thought I'd do a quick write up on how I stumbled through painting Gold NMM on this Liche Priest's weapon for my Tomb Kings army.

Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) is basically painting something to look like it was painted in a metallic hue without using any metallic paints. By using flat opaque colors, you will attempt to recreate the way light scatters or reflects off of a metallic surface.

While this technique is rather trendy for painting miniatures, it's a method that has been around for centuries; since at least the pre-Christian Roman Empire.  How else would painters of old try and paint a knight in a suit of armor on a canvas when no metallic paints were available?

Note how the grey paints are painted to look like metallic armor you think that's silver paint they're using?

The effect is achieved with careful blending and also understanding the way light can reflect off metallic objects, depending on where that light source is.  Within the world of miniatures painting, there are multitudinous styles of NMM, each with its own name/style.  Here are just a few of them:

Chrome NMM (can sometimes be called SENMM - Sky/Earth NMM)

Gold NMM


Silver NMM

For this tutorial we'll be tackling Gold NMM, using this Tomb Kings Liche Priest as the target...victim...subject...thing...

Painting NMM is essentially trying to bridge two colors; white and black, using blended layers in between.  Look at any metallic surface, and you'll see spots and curves where the light is reflected as well as exceptionally dark areas where the light doesn't reach.

Look at the picture of the paintbrush.  You'll notice that the reflection of light runs down the metal shaft while the areas around it are noticeably darker.  We want to try and emulate that.

There are a couple ways to approach NMM.  Some people like to start with the midtone color then add darker or lighter colors and gradually move away from the midtone.

What we are doing in this one is starting from a dark color and gradually blending up to a lighter one.  Both methods have their pros and cons, so it's up to you which you prefer to follow.

1. I started with a base coat of Rhinox Hide.  This is a nice dark starting point.  I gave it a watered down wash of Nuln Oil, about 2:1 Water:Nuln Oil

From this point forward, when I use any paints at all, they will always be incredibly watered down.  This is essential to build up a thin, gradual layer of color.  For the sake of this article, I used approximately 5 to 6 parts water for every 1 part paint.

2. I mixed 75/25 Rhinox Hide/Balor Brown and started layering up the areas that will show light reflectivity.

3. 50/50 Rhinox Hide/Balor Brown, and started layering in smaller areas that the previous step.

4. 25/75 Rhinox Hide/Balor Brown, again building up layers in smaller areas.  You should start to see the lighter area begin to develop.

5. Using the mix from step 4, I did 5 parts mix + 1 part Ushabti Bone and started layering in lighter areas.

6. Using a watered down glaze of Lamenter Yellow, I applied a thin coat to really tone down the layering and bring out the blends a bit more.

7. Using the mix from Step 5, I added a little more Ushabti Bone.

8. Repeat step 6 with Lamenters Yellow.

9. Using pure Ushabti White, I added a very thin highlight in the reflective areas as well as added extreme highlights around the edges.

10. Using White Scars White, I added spots to emulate points of light reflecting off its surface.

The main thing I learned from doing this is that glazes are awesome.  I had always used them as a finishing touch to bring down the intensity of edging and other stark colors, but using them in between layers really helped me to understand how muting certain colors can actually create a more dramatic effect.

And here are some more derpy dogs.  One can never have enough derp in their life.


  1. Great tutorial with excellent examples.

  2. Agree. Wonderful tutorial with a lot of examples, not just on the mini, but things to look for in real life!