I’m hav­ing trou­bling paint­ing ar­mour re­al­is­ti­cally… please help!

Patrick Peters, Eng­land

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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.

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