View Full Version : Painting metal

02-20-2005, 11:28 AM
Ok, maybe this isn't so much a tutorial as some general things to think of when painting metal and the examples I've made are a little hasty. But I think it just might be worth reading.

I'll be showing a couple of examples of what I'm trying to explain on this crude and ugly cup (it won't get any prettier, but hopefully a little more metallic):
The thing that makes metals difficult to do are of course reflections. Depending on how stylized your painting is and how smooth and reflective the metal surface is you need to know the surroundings of your metal object to varying levels of detail. A complex, perfectly reflective object in a photorealistic painting is almost impossible to do since it not only requires that you know the entire surrounding of the object (even what's unseen in the picture) in detail, but also that you can figure out how they'll be distorted by being reflected in a non-flat surface and sometimes multiply reflected. Some degree of stylization is required. One way is to "fake" the surroundings and just assume that they'll be so distorted that nothing will be recognizable anyway. This works particularly well for thin, circular (or oval or whatever) metal bars. In these all surrounding objects will be reduced to lines along the bar.
Ok, now for the first example picture:
Not very good (maybe even bad), but it should be enough for my purposes here.
The cup is obviously a bit dull and dirty, so not so many details are needed, just the big objects (in a spatial angle sense) from the cup's point of view. When painting a curved surface, try to keep your strokes along the axis of the curvature since this is the direction in which the reflections will be elongated. Up and down on the main part of the cup and side to side on the handle. The edges of both are rounded and will have reflections along them.
Note that the specular highlight in this case isn't on the brightest part of the shading as it would usually be on, for example, plastic. In this case i tried to make something like a bright light coming in between heavy drapes. The drapes themselves will be cast in shadow and so the reflection of them will be darker than many other things. The effect could be made more extreme if you consider say a spotlight mounted on a matte black wall shining on a white wall on the other side of the object. Then the highlight would be on the darkest side.
Next, note the dark bottom edge of the cup. Not only is it in shadow, it's also reflecting the shadow it's casting on the surface it's standing on (from the reflection it's some kind of brown table with a person in red sitting in front of it).
A small, hard brush has been used to add some scratches around the highlights (not that noticeable after the conversion to jpeg)
If you don't want to create a reflected scene it can often be enough to just put in elongated splotches. Make them denser along the parts where the curving is tighter since this represents a larger angle of space that will (on might assume) contain a larger number of objects. It's still best to have at least an idea of what the scene surrounding the object contains, especially in the viewers direction.
Lastly I would like to mention something about coloured metals, like gold, cupper and brass.
I've just used "colorize" in the hue/saturation box and then faded it to about 70% or so. I used fade since not all colour information is lost because the metal preferrs to reflect one. I also touched up the highlights with a bit of colour. A shiny plastic ball will have specular highlights of the same colour as the light source regardless of what colour the ball is. A gold object under a white light on the other hand will have somewhat yellow highlights.
That's all I have to say at the moment. I'm far from an expert (I study physics, not art) so please add whatever you feel has been left out or correct me if I'm wrong.

02-23-2005, 12:43 PM

02-27-2005, 12:36 PM
Thanks for the tutorail! However I would like to know more about how you coloured that soldier guy. That was a great drawing!

03-08-2005, 06:38 AM

03-08-2005, 01:04 PM
oh, sorry!
if you read my post for that piece carefully you'll see that parts are actually modelled in Blender and rendered, then tweaked in PS. So on the helm itself the metal is a result of first modelling the helm, took I don't know how long, then tweaking the materials for it, which took probably no more than an hour or so, and then integrating it into a painting in PS and adjusting the metal there to fit. The shoulderguards and stuff was painted directly in PS and as you can probably see, they don't really go all that well with the helm. Got lazy and left it like that.