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Metallic Paint Tutorial



The last painting tutorial I made was very basic, so in this one I'll be talking about how I use metallic pigments in my paint to give my props that extra shine and sparkle  :D (Big Grin) I talk a lot about how I painted and finished my Master Sword specifically here, but the method could be used for any prop. 

First off, here are the things you'll need before you get started:

  • acrylic paints (I use Liquitex Basics)
  • brushes
  • metallic pigments (I use PearlEx pigments)
  • something to mix your paints on (I use a small plastic pallet)
  • A work surface that can get messy
  • finishing spray

1. First off, I'll go over all the paints/pigments I used on my sword, which are labeled in the first picture above.  
    A) Krylon Colormaster paint and primer in metallic silver.  I got mine at Walmart but I'm sure any other store that carries paint would have it too
    B-F) Liquitex Basics acrylic paint. from left to right, I have mars black, phthalocyanine blue, cadmium deep red hue, copper, and gold.  I bought mine at Hobby Lobby, but any craft or art store should have them.
    G-K) Pearl Ex Pigments.  From left to right, I have micro pearl, interference gold, brilliant gold, super bronze, super russet. Mine came from Dick Blick, but again, any craft or art store should have them.

2. To start out, your prop should be properly primed and prepared.  If its made of some kind of plastic (worbla, wonderflex friendly plastic, etc.) you'll absolutely have to prime it. I explain more about priming in my Armor Painting Tutorial, so check it out if you want to know more

Once your prop is ready to go, you will start painting.  For props that have blades or anything metal, I recommend getting metallic spray paint for these parts.  You can normally get something a lot shinier and metallic looking in a spray paint than you can in a tube. Since my prop is a sword, I spray painted the blade with my Krylon Colormaster paint and primer (outside of course!) I've always had good luck with Krylon, and the metallic paint was just wonderful for this job. Do at least two coats of paint in this step, but more would be even better if you have enough.

3-6. Once your spray paint is dry, you'll be moving on to the rest of your prop. I won't go into a lot of detail here with the painting/mixing techniques, but if you want to learn how I do it, take a look at my Armor Painting Tutorial.  I wanted my sword to have an all-over metallic look to it, rather than just the blade, so I made my regular paints metallic by mixing metallic pigments into them. First, mix up your first base color. What you use will be determined by what color you're making.  For my sword, I needed a purplish blue, so I mixed up my paint a little bit more blue than I wanted to start with and then added the super russet Pearl Ex pigment. Since the pigment was red in color, it made my paint more purple while also adding the metallic effect.  Use as much pigment as you need to get your desired metallic effect, without making the paint too dry.

7-8. Once you have your base color ready, start painting your prop with it. You can see in the picture that the silver from earlier shows through quite a bit, so you'll have to add two or three coats to cover it.  Make sure you get in all the edges and corners, while leaving anything that isn't supposed to be this color unpainted.  

9. This is what my sword looked like after 3 coats of the base color.  The metallic pigments has given it a very nice shine, but you're not done painting yet!

10-13. Now, you're going to add your highlights and shadows. For the highlight (pics 10-11), you'll need to lighten up your base color.  Instead of using white paint to do this, I used the micro pearl Pearl Ex pigment to do it.  Doing it with the pigment will lighten the paint and keep the metallic shine at the same time, while if you lighten with paint, you'll lose a lot of the metallic effect, so its best to just use the pigment. For the shadows, however (pics 12-13), losing the metallic effect isn't as big of a deal, since they're shadows and shouldn't be shiny anyway, so just use some black paint to darken your base color. Highlights go on raised edges and shadows go in corners and crevices. 

14-15. Next you will paint on the details.  I'm using gold for mine.  While you can just buy metallic gold paint in a tube (which I did) I feel like the metallic shine in these isn't quite good enough by itself, but you can fix that by adding in metallic pigment.  Metallic paint in a tube is also very thin and requires a ridiculous number of coats to cover something, and adding in the pigment helps with that too.  I made my gold by mixing my gold and copper paints and adding in the brilliant gold and super bronze pigments.  You don't need to use bronze, but I like my gold to be a little darker.  Treat this color just as you treated your first  color.  Cover with a few base coats, then add highlights and shadows.  If your prop needs multiple colors for details, repeat these steps for each one.  

16-18. To lighten my gold, I used interference gold, rather than the micro pearl pigment.  Interference gold has a slightly gold tint, but is still mostly white, so it lightens and keeps the gold nice and golden.  

19-20. For the shadows, just add a little black and you're good to go!

21.  Here you can add black into all the corners to make your colors pop even more.  This step isn't necessary, but I think it is worth doing.  If you have any engraving on your prop (like the triforce on my blade) add black to these too.  The design will show up A LOT better.  

22. This isn't a "painting" step, but rather a "prop making step," but here, you can add any extra details you might need, like I did with the green wrapping around the handle.

23. At the very end, when all your paint is dry, coat your prop in some kind of finish.  I used a glossy finish on mine, but if you don't want the gloss, you can use a semi-gloss, satin, or matte finish too.  The finish will seal and protect your paint and it won't chip as easily.  (note: you may need to do this step before step 22 if you have something like cloth or anything of the sort to add, but if its something small like on my sword, the order doesn't really matter, which is why I added the detail beforehand)

Side Note: I've heard some people say that you can't use spray finishes with metallic paints (apparently it dulls the metallic look) but I've never had a problem using spray finishes over my metallics. I always use a glossy coat, too.  But, if you're worried about ruining your paint, skip step 23.  

I hope this tutorial helps!  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me!  Heart 

Image size
5729x9990px 7.53 MB
Shutter Speed
1/60 second
Focal Length
22 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Jan 1, 2010 12:00:29 AM -05:00
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