Layering and Glazing for Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) Blending

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Banner for blending acrylics

Are you looking for a way to smooth out your paint layers on miniatures? Miniature painting often requires that a painter blend multiple colors together to create transitions on a model’s surface. Although there are many color blending techniques, a tried and true approach is to combine paint “layering” with “glazing” to create smooth blends over small areas. The key is controlling the width and depth of the blended paint elements. This is especially important for non-metallic metal (NMM) painting on miniatures, because of how subtle changes in light and dark tones affect the overall faux metallic appearance.

In this article, I demonstrate how to do “layering and glazing” on miniatures to smooth out two colors on a model’s surface. My goal is to show you a simple way to take the basic paint layering technique to the next level by applying thin layer glazes.

Here you’ll learn how to do layering and glazing by:

  • Painting the base coat layers for two blending colors
  • Creating your own glaze with acrylic model paint
  • Using your brush to apply a glaze to smoothly blend two different colors

RELATED: WHAT IS NON-METALLIC METAL (NMM)?


Here are 3 acrylic blending mediums I recommend for making your own (DIY) glazes with model hobby paint:

All of these mediums mix well with hobby acrylic paint. If you need a thinner glaze (e.g., lower viscosity), add a bit of water. A notable advantage of using a glazing acrylic medium as compared with water is the slow-drying properties of these additives. Glazing mediums give you time to work with your paint before it dries. This can be helpful if you’re a slow, methodical painter, or even if you’re more impulsive and prefer trying this out as you paint.

Read on below to use how I use these art mediums to create a glaze for painting a model surface.

Image Glaze More Details
golden acrylic glaze Golden Glaze Liquid Satin Buy on Amazon
Buy on BLICK ART
Liquitex Glaze medium Liquitex Professional Glazing Fluid Buy on Amazon
Buy on BLICK ART
Liquitex matt varnish Liquitex Matte Varnish Buy on Amazon
Buy on BLICK ART

You can make your own glazes with regular hobby model paint by mixing with water or clear acrylic polymers (shown above). The ultimate goal with a glaze is to use a color paint medium that is translucent that allows the underlying surface to show through. By glazing multiple layers of color, you can powerfully control the transition smoothness between colors and tones.

The glazing process is slow, but for miniature painting, glazing is technique used widely by professionals. It will be up to you to experiment and try out the glazing technique for yourself. If you’re looking for other advanced blending techniques for painting miniatures, check out this paint blending technique overview.


Is “layering and glazing” important for blending paint on miniatures?

Not really. Of course, it all depends on the artistic refinement you’re looking for on the model. If you’re only aiming for a table top quality paint job, then blending paint is secondary to finishing the project quickly. For a more professional look and executing special effects like non-metallic metal finishes, layering and glazing (as well as other blending techniques) will become more important.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Kaya warmachine hordes tabletop miniature game nmm gold
I used layering and glazing to paint the non-metallic metal (NMM) gold on “Kaya the Wildheart” miniature (Privateer Press).

You can see how the gold NMM surface appears reflective in the zoomed out image. However, you’ll see how rough the layers appear even with glazing to smooth out the transitions. But, realistically, no one gets this close to a miniature to inspect your blending smoothness.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Kaya warmachine hordes tabletop miniature game nmm gold with close up
A close up view of the NMM gold shows how “rough” my blends are, despite them being effective to sell the effect at a normal viewing distance.

For the most part, you should use glazing over layered colors only enough to “sell the effect” at a normal viewing distance. Certainly, if you want super smooth blends you can continuing the glazing process over and over until you’re satisfied.

For non-metallic metal miniature painting, glazing over gradient layers of basecoat paint is a great way to help you control what colors blend together. Glazing also helps you add tints of other colors over your painted surfaces to add interest, improve the realism of a reflective surface, or add contrast and texture that doesn’t overwhelm the primary appearance of the model.


Here are the 9 steps for how to use layers and glazes to smoothly blend paint colors on a miniature:

  1. Start with a primed surface
  2. Basecoat your primary colors
  3. Mix your midtone color
  4. Apply the midtone “block” layer
  5. Mix another transition color tone (optional)
  6. Create a glaze with your original base colors
  7. Apply the glaze
  8. Repeat the glazing application
  9. Keep refining with glazes to create buttery smooth color blends

Using an old spray paint cap, I show you the basics of how to use base coat layers of opaque paint in combination with glazing to create a smooth blended transition between two colors.

1. Start with a primed surface

Priming your model’s surface is important to allow paint to adhere properly. Priming also evens out any microscopic imperfections in the miniature’s surface that may interfere with your blending and glazing. For my recommendations on best primers for painting miniatures, check out this primer review article.

For this project, I used a Vallejo Surface Primer that I airbrushed onto the surface in one even coat.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. primer coated surface miniature
Start with a properly prepared surface with a good coat of primer.

2. Basecoat your primary colors

A good basecoat paint is any paint that can cover a surface in no more than 2-3 layers. Some paint brands and colors work better as basecoats than others. For example, darker, cool toned paints generally cover better than warmer, brighter colors. I don’t know why this is true, but if you’re having trouble with paint coverage, switch brands or consider a different color (if you are willing to change your color palette).

I used an Army Painter Regiment brush for this paint job. Any brush you have good control with should do the job.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Basecoat with base colors
Apply the base coat layers in even solid blocks of paint.
How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Army painter regiment brush for layering and glazing
This is a good alternative to more expensive brushes for painting miniatures. I use the Army Painter Regiment brush for a lot of different painting techniques.

The goal with the basecoat is to “block-in” a region of the model’s surface with the color you want. You want an even, solid coat without splotchy appearance. The more even this coat of paint, the easier it will be to blend later.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Blocks of color
Sketch in the approximate locations of your shadows and highlight colors on your model’s surface.

You’ll see that I started with the darker color. But, it doesn’t matter which colors you apply to your model first. All of your base coat layers will be opaque (i.e., you can’t see through them). The key is even, solid coverage with your basecoat paint.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. highlight color block
Apply your second color. For NMM, this might be your highlight color.

When you add your second color (in this case I used a highlight tone), make sure you paint right up and slightly over the previous color. This creates a transition zone (where two colors meet) that you will use as your demarcation, or point of reference, when you start glazing.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. highlight color block even coat
Make sure the coat of paint is even and solid with good coverage.

For NMM, the idea is to “sketch” paint the areas where light and shadows would fall if the surface was truly reflective. Knowing where to put your lights and darks is another skill you can learn elsewhere, or with practice studying and observing the behavior of light on true metallic surfaces.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Even blocks of color without splotchy coverage
You want the surface to remain as even and smooth as possible, which will help you blend it all together later using glazes.

3. Mix your midtone color

To start the layering process, mix your two colors together into a midtone. The ratio doesn’t matter, as long as it’s somewhere close to the “middle” of the two original colors. I prefer using a dry palette because I have better control over the thickness of the paint. But, a wet palette could help, too, if you’re afraid paint will dry too fast.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Mix the midtone
I prefer using a dry palette for my acrylic painting work. But, a wet palette will do fine. Just make sure you maintain control of your paint consistency/thickness.

If you need to add water to help you mix the paint, then feel free to do so. Just don’t add too much water. You want this paint to stay as opaque as possible, which will help you base coat layer the transition in the next step.

4. Apply the midtone “block” layer

Make sure you apply the mid tone color in an even and solid coat. Apply the paint along the transition zone between the first two base coat colors. It will appear as a band or “block” region of paint that covers the meeting points of the prior colors.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Apply the midtone
Block in the paint over the transition zone with the midtone paint.

The midtone covers and start to “blur” the line between your original base coat colors. How thick you make this band will depend on how deep or shallow you want your blended transition to be in the end result. Of course, because we’re using opaque paints, you can always make adjustments on the fly. Merely go back to your base colors on your palette and narrow or thicken the midtone band as you see fit.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. create the midtone blurred transition
Create even, solid coats along the areas of the two colors you want to blend together.

5. Mix another transition color tone (optional)

This step isn’t necessary as your subsequent glazing will help you create the blends between your three colors later (dark, mid, highlight). But, I personally like adding a fourth transition color to help guide my ability to see where my blends should appear.

To create another transition color, you can add your brighter (or darker) color to the midtone you mixed earlier in step #5.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Mix the second midtone
You can create another mid tone color to help you blur the transition areas between the colors.

To make the paint easier to use, you can add a bit of water (not too much). Thinning the paint helps the paint flow off your brush in a smoother fashion and helps you create that even solid basecoat you’re looking for.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Apply the second midtone
As before, make sure you apply this in an even manner with solid coverage. Avoid splotchy, unpainted areas within the region you’re trying to cover.

Apply the color along the transition zone. Again, you’re trying to blur/blend the line between the colors.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Bands of base coat layers in transition graident
This is the rough sketch of light and dark on the surface you’re painting.

If you’re really meticulous, you can mix-up as many transition colors and apply them the same way. The more transition colors you layer at this point will further blur and blend your colors together. Remember to make sure each base coat layer dries before applying the next color on top.

Wet-blending is another blending technique, but won’t give you the same resolution control as layering and glazing. An advantage of layering and glazing is that it works well on very small surface areas. Whereas, wet-blending requires a larger area for better control and effect.

6. Create a glaze with your original base colors

Dispense some glazing liquid, such as Golden Satin Glazing Liquid, on your palette. Note that most specialized glazing mediums have a glossy effect. If you prefer a matte medium, you can use a matte varnish as a glazing additive. Or, simply use water (which I use in this article for glazing).

Alternatively, you can continue to glaze and remove the gloss with a matte varnish sealant when the paint job is complete. Here is my favorite matte varnishes for all my professional miniature work.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Golden satin glazing liquid
Use an blending medium to keep your paint from drying too fast. Glaze medium also thins paint without making it too runny. You can use a little water to thin the paint further to help it flow off your brush bristles as you paint.

If you’re using a wet palette, make sure your paint doesn’t get too runny. You want to maintain consistent thickness of your paint for best results when you glaze a surface. Paint control is key, as you’ll see below.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Thin your original paint colors to make a glaze
Start glazing with the darker color first if you want to see the blending effect happen faster.

Thin your paints with the glazing medium (or water) until it is transparent. You actually can’t go too thin (it only makes glazing take longer), so don’t be timid with the thinning glaze medium. Do keep in mind, however, that you want to deposit paint in thin glaze layers to avoid filling in finer details on a model (if this is relevant to your piece).

Avoid creating a glaze “paste”. Thin your glaze with water (even if you added glaze medium), if you need the paint color to flow off your brush better.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Glazes should be translucent
Make sure your glaze is translucent.

You’re looking for translucency where the color allows the underlying surface to show through.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Glaze consistency
This is the perfect glaze consistency, viscosity, and opacity. You could make this thinner, but then you start to lose control over the paint when it is applied to a small surface. This is a mixture of glaze medium, paint, and a little water.

You’re looking for a fairly malleable mixture of paint pigment that is cleared enough to see through when applied in a thin layer.

Note that it is easier to use a darker colored glaze than a brighter tone. In other words, it is easier to make a model darker than it is to lighten it. In this case, I prefer to start with the darker color as a glaze. This way I can “push” or tamp down the “brighter” colors into the shadows. Then, as you’ll see below, I can bring the highlights back, slowly using glazes.

This is all personal preference. You can glaze from either direction: dark to light, or light to dark. The smooth blended result will appear the same.

7. Apply the glaze

I use the same brush that I applied my base coat colors. The best brush for glazing is the one you are most comfortable using. Make sure the brush as a good capacity to hold paint and the color flows off predictably from the bristles.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Glaze applied evenly
Apply the first glaze layer over the entire area you want to blend.

Apply the glaze in thin, even coats over the entire surface you want to smooth out. Make sure the coats are thin and even (I know I’m repeating myself). As you may notice, wet paint is darker than dry paint. So, be patient as you glaze if you think you put too much on. Your glaze will lighten up as it dries.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Glaze dried with a hair dryer blow dry
I highly recommend you use a hair dryer when you’re glazing to speed up the process.

Use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process. Take not of your underlying layers. They all appear darker, but they are slowly blending together. As you add more glazes in selective areas, you’ll see the lines between the base coat layers blur.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Glaze repeatedly for best effect
Keep glazing…the transition areas will slowly blur together.

8. Repeat the glazing application

Selectively glaze over areas with your dark glaze color to “push” the brighter midtones down toward the shadow color. Use your brush to control where the glazing pigment deposits. For more about brush control when glazing, check out this in-depth glazing article or watch this video.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Glaze up to the highlight
Glaze using the highlight color to bring back the “brighter” values to your model.

When you’re comfortable with the transitions at the darker end of your model’s surface, create a glaze with your highlight, second color. Apply this the same way in selective areas to blur and blend the transition zones between the underlying colors.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Make sure your glazes dry

Remember to wait for each previous glaze layer to dry before applying the next.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Make sure your glazes dry before applying the next glazing layer

9. Keep refining with glazes to create buttery smooth color blends

You can keep glazing to your heart’s content.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Glazing is slow but worth it

Because you’ve made your glaze with an acrylic polymer medium (e.g., Golden Glazing Liquid Medium), you have more time to play with your paint without it drying too quickly.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Glaze to your heart's content until your blends are smooth

As you get closer to finishing your blending, make sure you pull your highlights back up to their brightest point. This is especially important if you’re painting NMM surfaces. The high contrast is what sells the faux reflective surface effect.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Smooth blending

When you’re finished painting, make sure to seal your painted surface with an appropriate varnish.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Close up blending

A matte varnish will remove the glossy effect of using a glaze medium and help smooth out imperfections in your color blends. If you’re still not satisfied with your color blends, simply keep glazing or try adding a third accent color glaze in the darker, midtone region (I don’t do this here).

For this piece, I’m calling it done. It has the reflective quality I’m looking for. Although I haven’t varnished it in this image (below), you can tell how we’ve gone from two colors, to a more blended smooth surface using glazes.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Final result
This is the blended result before applying a matte varnish. A matte varnish will remove the reflective quality of this layer/glazed surface. It will also help smooth out the blends in the final piece.

Here’s the video showing you the entire technique of “layering and glazing” to blend acrylic paint over a model surface:


Conclusion

What else can you use layering and glazing for?

In addition to non-metallic metal (NMM) painting effects, you can use glazes to paint skin tones and other surfaces where subtle tints of color are needed. For skin, or other organic surfaces, adding other colors on top of the “flesh tone” makes skin appear more realistic and interesting for the viewer.

How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Glaze skin tones and more!
This Reaper miniatures for a D&D or Pathfinder roleplaying game (RPG) was painted with glazes. You can see the effect of using glazes on the sword, axe, helmet, and the skin.
How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Use glazes to paint warhammer and age of sigmar models
I used glazes for the skin tone on this Games Workshop Shadespire Khorne model. Whether you’re looking for more realistic skin tones or simply want to add interest to your minis, glazes are a great way to add subtle bits of color.
How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Use glazes to make skin flesh tones more realistic
The green and blue tones on the flesh tone on this model were added with glazes. They enhance the color depth of the skin and create are more interesting and compelling miniature.
How to layer and glaze miniatures. Layering and glazing paint on miniatures and models for blending color. How to layer and glaze to blend miniature paint. Blending tutorial for painting miniatures. How to make glazes for blending acrylic paint. Glazing is a subtle way to add tints of color.
I painted the pops of green and blues on the wooden shield of this Citadel miniature (Games Workshop Sepulchral Guard model) using glazes of regular acrylic paint mixed with glaze medium and a little water.

Layering and glazing is a key technique for many of my miniature painting projects. I don’t often use it over the entire model. But, when I’m looking to add a few special effects or want to use a unique style, e.g., NMM, then I’ll turn to using opaque base coat layers blended together with glazes.

I hope you found this article helpful! Thank you for reading.

Happy paint blending, layering, and glazing!

Enjoying your visit? Join Tangible Day

Free newsletter with monthly updates (no spam)

Leave a comment below! Follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Grab your FREE photo backdrop bundle for miniature photography in the shop.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: