Non-metallic metal (NMM) painting is the technique of using regular paint (without metallic content) to give the illusion of a metallic, reflective surface. In general, NMM requires high contrast painted with smooth transitions from light-to-dark.

Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) Sword (Blending with the Loaded Brush Technique)

There is also the need to understand how light interacts with reflective surfaces and within the context of the surrounding environment.

In short, NMM is an advanced painting technique for miniature painters.

Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) Sword (Blending with the Loaded Brush Technique)

Loaded Brush Blending for NMM

I felt it best to make a video of how I paint miniature swords using NMM. There are a number of other sites with great tutorials. I tend to borrow a number of techniques and mix them all together whenever I feel it fits the need.

In this case, however, I have found that the loaded brush blending approach is the quickest for small surfaces that are flat.

With video it is easier to visualize the actual application of paint. Check out the video here (about 7 minute runtime):

Loaded brush blending involves the use of two paint colors “loaded” into a single brush.


The key factors you should keep in mind when practicing this technique are as follows:

  • Use a kolinsky sable brush (see article about these brushes here)
  • A hair dryer can speed up the process of each paint application (see here for why and what I use).
  • Start with small, flat surfaces, like swords or other blades.
  • A smooth base coat layer is very important for the loaded brush blending process.
  • It is easier to load a darker color first, then use a highlight color on the brush tip
  • For non-metallic metal (NMM), contrast is more important than color.
  • Use a “kick” color as a glaze in the final step to “tie” the blended transitions even further into a smooth-looking surface
  • Practice, practice, practice!
Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) Sword (Blending with the Loaded Brush Technique)

Miniatures Painted with Loaded Brush Technique

I paint a lot of miniatures with swords and other semi-reflective surfaces (a completely reflective surface). Here are a few of my favorites in various states of completion.

Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) Sword (Blending with the Loaded Brush Technique)
I blended the armor with a loaded brush
Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) Sword (Blending with the Loaded Brush Technique)
The daggers and the cloak used a mix of loaded brush blending and glazing
Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) Sword (Blending with the Loaded Brush Technique)
The entire sword used the technique I show in the video
Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) Sword (Blending with the Loaded Brush Technique)
The headpiece….blended using a size #2 kolinsky sable
Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) Sword (Blending with the Loaded Brush Technique)
The horns used a size #2 Raphael 8404 brush loaded with the dark and light colors

Final Word

The loaded brush blending technique is a fun, fast, and fairly straight-forward approach. The reason I would recommend painters learn how to use it regularly is because loaded brush application of paint is versatile. It can become the foundation for producing high-contrast quickly, which you can then use for other neat effects.


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Happy painting!!!

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