Q&A: pol­ished metal

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents - Thomas Gray, New Zealand

An­swer Me­lanie replies

Pol­ished metal is a pretty in­ter­est­ing el­e­ment to paint, and it’s some­thing I re­ally like to add to my char­ac­ters be­cause of the touches of light and dy­namism it brings to any paint­ing. How­ever, to achieve a re­al­is­tic metal­lic el­e­ment can be dif­fi­cult.

I start by de­cid­ing on the shape of the metal­lic el­e­ment, bear­ing in mind that it might change dur­ing the paint­ing process. I usu­ally do few prepara­tory sketches to see what will work and suit my char­ac­ter. This en­ables me to fo­cus on the main paint­ing and the metal­lic tex­ture.

The main trick is the tex­ture, and it’s the most com­plex part. I start with a very lim­ited colour scheme: the base colour, the light and a shadow hue. The colour scheme is im­por­tant to get right be­cause it’ll de­fine the type of metal that your object is made of: gold, cop­per, iron and so on. How­ever, this is only the base; metal is a highly re­flec­tive el­e­ment and so you have to take into ac­count the sur­round­ing colours in the fi­nal de­sign. The more re­flec­tive colours you in­tro­duce, the more re­al­is­tic the tex­ture will look.

The light is the other key as­pect. Metal is a re­flec­tive el­e­ment and so the light should be in­tense. Here. I con­trol the strength of light so that a lot of light hits the crown, but not too much be­cause it could end up dis­tract­ing the viewer from the fo­cal point of the com­po­si­tion: the char­ac­ter’s face. To this end, I soften the light if it’s too much.

The metal colour scheme starts off be­ing sim­ple, but I’ll add more colours like those of the re­flected en­vi­ron­ment, and a more in­tense bright light later. You can choose to paint clean, pol­ished metal, but I like to add some scratches and dents, to bring more colour vari­a­tion and realism to the tex­ture.

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