I’m having troubling painting armour realistically… please help!
Patrick Peters, England
Answer Don replies
Painting armour, whether on horse, man or another creature, can be one of the most difficult things an artist can paint. However, there are some tips that will make your task easier.
First, consider the environment of the painting. Any colour found in the environment will be reflected in metal armour, so just painting armour in grey will look unrealistic.
Second, don’t over-blend the edges of your colours and values. Metallic objects tend to reflect values and colours with crisp transitions. Over-blending the edges will soften the appearance of the metal and lower its believability. The shinier I want a surface, the more abruptly I paint these transitions.
The third point to remember is to keep reflected lights less intense than the main light. The main light source should reflect very brightly compared to other lights.
If you can remember these three simple things – use the colours in the surrounding environment, don’t over-blend the edges of your values and colours, and keep your light sources under control – you should have little problem painting armour.
To paint armour successfully, the metallic colours should reflect the environment; values and colours should not be over-blended; and reflected lights need to be secondary in importance to the main light. Keep the edges of metal plates sharp and well-defined.