Painting Mixed-Metallic Metals (MMM)

Sometimes, a single style doesn’t create the best looking effect. If you combine a few of the other Metallic methods to paint Mixed-Metallic Metals, it can make some nice aesthetic creations.

For example, on my Elemental King I painted his collar and metal plates a cool blue-grey NMM steel but then used iron RMM to create layers and sheets of rust. On my Harlequin Wraithlord, I used a little bit of NMM to highlight some of the TMM gold in order to force a visible highlight not dependent on the strength or angle of actual light reflecting off the paint.

I’ll show you some examples and offer some tips on ways you could use this.


Once again, I’ll use the rotating axe as an example of the difference between metallic methods:

Red True-Metallic Metal base
– The base of the red section demonstrates how as a metallic surface moves, light looks very different – from bright red to dark red.

White Non-Metallic Metal
– The white parts of the axe shows the difference between NMM and TMM. Notice how as the red TMM darkens as it falls from direct light, the painted NMM remains fairly bright.

Red Mixed-Metallic Metal
– The red metallic area as a whole demonstrates how you can mix the two styles together in order to create a metallic effect that shines in the light but still has some static highlights no matter which angle you look at it from.


Elemental King’s Collar


When I wrote about painting Real-Metallic Metal, I touched a little on how I used a NMM base. As the collar progresses, these blue/grey areas show through all the rust.

This is an effect that the iron paint wouldn’t create on its own – The iron is just a flat grey that over time would fully rust. The NMM captures the appearance of rust at the same moment in time as the rest of the miniature.



TMM with NMM Highlighting

This is probably the more common case, where you have a True-Metallic Metal base that shines nicely, but maybe you want to make the highlights stand out more without using another TMM paint.


Like doing other highlights, you can use a couple layers of highlights. I used a light-blue first, then a blue-white to finish it off.

The important thing in this situation is you have to be aware of light sources while creating your metallic effect, since you’re forcing a fixed perspective.

Like the example with the axe, I’ve rotated the mini a little to show you how even in the dark, these NMM highlights still show through.


NMM with TMM accents

Similarly, you can mix metal effects to add a shimmer to normally dull NMM paint jobs. In the case of this lizardman, I created a subtle scale effect by painting a lot of regular paints over a shimmering metallic undercoat.

This left some of the shadows and misc highlights reflective to pick up the light as the model is shifted around.


Combining MMM Paints

On the Harlequin Wraithlord I entered in Golden Demon, I also mixed bleached bone (a light beige) in with gold to create limb highlights. By doing this in a few layers up to the lightest areas, it creates a transition from shiny gold to brighter static highlight.

What I mean by layers, is painting the leg gold first, then highlighting with a mix of mostly gold and a little beige, next highlighting with a mix of gold and beige, then a mix of mostly beige and a little gold and finally a little highlighting of just beige.

Moving the camera from one of the leg, around, up and over, you can see how light plays across the length. It’s strong and bright when direct, but when the light isn’t there, the highlights from the beige mix still give the metallic surface texture and light / shadow.



Like the lizardman’s skin, I painted the wraithbone in a reverse style – focusing on the beige paints but with a bit of a gold undercoat to punch up the shine when it catches the light right.

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  • Thuloid

    I’ll be returning to this, but lately I’ve felt that this mixing of techniques is where it’s at. Great looking stuff, and you try some things here I’d not thought about.

  • Cedric Ballbusch

    As always, very enlightening.

    While off topic, I figure, as our resident painting guru, this question is best directed to you. Normally, in my painting I’m something of a perfectionist, and I spend a lot of time lavishing detail on my figures.

    However, due to life events I currently have very limited painting space and time. What methods do you think produce the most respectable results with limited time and paint selection? Base coat, wash and dry brush? A two-tone system of shade base color? Something else?

    • Well thanks 🙂

      Cut and dry, the easiest method? Prime white, throw a little colour on, wash, call it a day.
      Just make sure you use light colours so the washes stand out. Highlighting is totally optional.

      I also suggest using GW washes because I find them softer and create nice transitions.

      I’m teaching a friend to paint for the first time, this is literally the first ever miniature he’s painted after a little work:

      This fellow, I threw together quickly for a DnD game.. breaking my usual “always prime black” and went with white for the softer colours… all of which I STARTED with a wash, then slapped on some quick highlights and darkened some of the shadows. The metal took the most time and was just a matter of painting it brown, painting some quick TMM highlights on and slapping a wash over to tie it together. Green areas, I just thinned a bright green a little, threw it into the crevices and added some white dots to create “glow”.

      For anyone looking to save time or learn, let washes do a lot of your work. It’s not “technical” but honestly, don’t give into painting snobbery. The final product is the goal and if you’re not looking to put a ton of time into a miniature, they’ll get you there far quicker.

      When trying to save time, I don’t find myself using dry-brushing much anymore, mostly because I find it quicker to paint on some quick highlights. I’ll drybrush heavily textured parts like grainy wood, hair, small stuff close together like the patches on the back of my above guy’s cloak. But since I always work with paint thinned slightly in Liquitex clear slo-dri, I can quickly apply it to a surface, tinting slightly, rather than painting over it.

    • (also, totally the pick-me-up I needed after today, so thanks again!)