By Zach Lanier
There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but this is how I painted the
blades for the Queen of the Clones. I actually did these
about 6 months after I finished that piece, but it’s close enough.
Here they are, just cleaned and primed. The grey primered one
is an experiment with Gunze Mr. Surfacer, the white is standard Krylon
Basecoated. I used Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Dark Grey for
the armor, VMC London Grey for the sword, and a mix of Vallejo Game
color (VGC) Parasite Brown and VMC English Brown. I get asked
a lot what colors I use for NMM, and the answer is different with every
piece. I vary my gold and silver NMM recipes by adding in
other colors that will be used on the model to tint the color towards
cohesiveness. I’ve also done a quick and rough lining with
one of the new Reaper master series liners. If you don’t have
one of those available, use a dark brown paint. VMC SS Camo
Black-Brown works well, though it does have a tendency to separate on
I’ve started to shade the dark grey armor here. I’ve used VMC
Black Grey to do the undersides and areas that would be shaded, and
added in a little of my base color VMC Dark Grey to blend it in a
little bit. Since this isn’t a blending tutorial I won’t go
into too much detail about it, but I use layering almost entirely, with
about 8 gradations from shade to highlight, and a little mix of two
colors occasionally when I need to get a finer blend.
A little easier to see some of the color differences here. I
used some more of the VMC Dark Grey mixed in with about 50% VMC London
Grey.There’s not much blending here, but the block of color
is there to guide me with the highest highlight and the mid colors.
Pretty rough still, just blocking out colors. I’ve added a
bit more VMC London Grey, up to about 75-80%. The highlight
areas are really getting defined here, and although it looks rough now,
I’d rather have that than continually trying to repair a blend that is
shifting every time I apply another layer of highlighting.
I have gone ahead and shaded my gold here with VGC Charred
Brown. It’s easy to see in this picture the contrast we have
created, and that’s something I focus on when doing NMM. In
real life, an object reads as metallic when we see sharp contrasts
between highlights and shadows. It’s hard to do in mini
painting because unless you have a good eye and can place the light in
the right places it doesn’t look realistic. That’s why a lot
of NMM painters out there will spend too much precious space blending a
low to a high and end up with a beautifully blended but ultimately
unconvincing blade. Even though the midtones are muted and
there are no highlights, you can see the beginning of the end.
Still not worrying about blending, just trying to block in the
highlights and make sure we have the contrast we’re looking for to make
this a believable piece of armor. I’ve used the VGC Parasite
Brown and mixed in some VMC Sand Yellow 50/50, and some straight VMC
I’ve started working on the blade here. The part of the blade
that points toward the ground has been shaded with VMC Dark Grey.
Started the highlighting for the top of the blade. Just a
little bit of white added to the VMC London Grey to get an idea about
where my highlights will go. I made a few intermediate mixes
of white and VMC London Grey to blend it in a little bit.
A little more cleanup work on the wider blade and I’ve lightened the
bottom edge of the shaded portion just a bit.
Now it’s time to block in the highest highlight color. I
don’t normally use large sections of white, but I wanted to blade on
this one to really stand out, like it’s under the bright desert sun
that a Clone of Dirz would be exposed to. I used Reaper
Master Series White and blocked in my main bright spot. Then
I’ve used about 4 gradations of White mixed with VMC London Grey to
layer in my blend.
This shows the blocks of color gradation used before I blended them in
Some finishing steps. It’s hard to see in these pics, but
I’ve made a very thin watery mix of VMC Dark Sea Blue with VMC London
Grey and VMC Dark Grey and washed the base of each blade in an
irregular pattern to create some visual interest and asymmetric
wear. With a watery mix of VMC Dark Red and Andrea Color Dark
Orange I washed around some rivets and in creases to simulate
Hope this has helped!