Friday Quick Tip: Metallics and Color Basing

Heya folks, that time again! This week I thought it would be a good time to bring another little tidbit I've picked up from none other than GentleBen of BoLS fame. And it has to do with a fundamental change in how you go about your metallics.

The idea here is to paint a Base Color of some sort before applying your metallic paints. This seems like such a simple and easy thing that anyone in their right mind would think to do, but honestly, I would have almost never thought to try this had I not been 'enlightened' a week ago!

The practice of this is simple:

When you're painting silver, base coat the area in a grey color, such as Codex Grey or Fortress Grey.

When you're painting a gold, try a Light Brown like Snakebite Leather.

Looking for a rusted feel? Paint Bestial Brown under your silvers.

Drybrushing seems to be the method of choice for this technique, but I can easily see it working in thin application of watered down metallics where the base coat will show through. And of course using a wash of some sort, be it inks, washes, or a custom mixture, will help bring it all to life.

I've done a little bit of work with this idea recently with my Chaos Knights, doing a full drybrush of Codex Grey over all areas that were getting a Chainmail drybrush, and I have to say, I believe I'll be using this one from now on.

Those of you out there looking for a quick and easy method to bring your metals to the next level, give this idea a try and see what sort of results you have from it.

And those of you looking for some additional reading this weekend, be sure to check out GentleBen's Painting Academy posts over on BoLS:

What the Hell is Paint?

Matte Medium Tutorial

From these you will definitely get a better understanding of the theory behind using this technique, as well as some insight to other great ideas.

What little tips do you have for painting metals?


  1. Mate, I love these Friday tips!

    One day I might get around to trying some of them, too...

    - Drax

  2. Much of what I try and bring to the table are simple, easy, little things that you can try on your current projects.

    They're not 'Change every step of how you go about painting!' tips, just little things that folks might not have thought to do before!

    So get out there and give a new technique a go!

  3. I never thought of this, I always just basecoated black for metallic areas.

  4. I've always done the same as you Ron. The idea here is that it gives the metallic paint something to better adhere to, as well as using basic underpainting principles.

    The sad part is, I've known about underpainting for a while now! I just never thought to apply it to something like metallics ^_^. It's what we do with EVERY OTHER COLOR ^_^!

  5. I know this is an ancient posting, but I had to stick my face in and say that I tried this out on my most recent Ultramarine.
    Normally before painting them gold, I leave pad rims whatever sloppy combination of blue and black it ends up after doing the rest of the colors. I use Reaper Master Series paint, and use Antique Gold for my aquilae and pad rims. Painting this over the black/blue mess tended to take a couple coats for solid coverage. Even then, I'd have some darker spots showing through from the black primer coat. Metallic flakes sometimes don't cooperate.
    I tried this technique, and painted some of Reaper's Ruddy Leather over the rims before applying my Antique Gold. MUCH better coverage, and obviously no black poking through the flake. I continued with my typical Gryphonne Sepia Wash, and then an edge highlight of Reaper's New Gold. Looks awesome. Takes one additional step, but the value pays off. I'm waiting til I paint another aquila chestplate to see how it helps when getting better looking feather detail.
    Thanks for the tip!