Thursday, October 6, 2011

Recipe: Bronze (ish)

Some months ago (lost amidst the fog of Heroes of Armageddon and Games Day), a very kind and interested reader asked about my bronze(ish) metallic recipe. If you are still reading, thank you for your patience. 

Black: with mostly metallic-colored models, I will always begin with a black spray. I have been having some modest success with PP’s brand of late.

Tin Bitz: because so much of this model will be metal at the end of the day, I am quite aggressive with this layer. I thin the paint considerably, which is reasonable advice for all metallic paints as they tend to get gummy rather quickly. As there will be several layers here, I try to keep it all as thin as the step will allow.

Tin Bitz + Dwarf Bronze: this step is here only because I feel the jump straight from Bitz to Bronze is too severe. By adding this intermediate step, the edges between the two becomes more manageable. Again, I work quickly here in a very, very sloppy over-brush mode with a large, flat brush. All non-metallic items will be cleaned up at a later stage.

Dwarf Bronze: this is more along the lines of where I hope to be with the coloring. Again, I over-brush sloppily, but try where I am able to keep the paint most notable in areas like the front of the helmet and tips of the shoulder pads where the highlighting will be most visible and pronounced.

Washes: I have mentioned elsewhere (and specifically in this post on rust) that I never shade/wash my metallics with black ink (or wash, whatever). Instead, I have created a mix of Purple and Green inks –which will appear oily black when mixed evenly (I have two jars, actually, one batch that favors green slightly and one that favors purple). For this step, I dug out the slightly green mixture and further mixed this with Flesh wash at a ratio of 3 Flesh to 1 Purple/Green blend and applied it liberally.

Dwarf Bronze + Shinning Gold: once the above step and well-and-truly dried (must be dry!), I work toward the lighter areas with a bit of gold in a mostly bronze mix. The danger here is always that too much gold will ruin the bronze effect in favor of soiled gold. If you find this happening, I recommend either mixing more bronze into the equation or one other trick with a final wash that comes at the end of this step-by-step. For this layer, I retrieved a thick but more delicate brush than the one used above. From this point forward, each step becomes increasingly more dry-brush and less over-brush, and I try to focus on those raise areas of importance exclusively.

Burnished Gold: much more like a dry-brush here, and very sparingly.

Burnished Gold + Mithril Silver: be careful here. The smallest drop of Mithril in a relatively large amount of any other color will always do the trick. I am uncertain about the exact ratio, but if I had to estimate, I would say nothing greater than 1 Mithril to 15 Burnished. This step is genuinely a dry-brush with only modest attention to areas that are significantly raised and that deserve proper, relatively intense highlighting.

Flesh Wash: I thin the wash considerably, and usually include it only if I feel that model is drifting too far away from bronze coloring. This step will also help cover any recesses in which the over- or dry-brushing has overstepped into the shaded areas, in which case, I apply it only to those recesses rather than the whole area.

Scaly Green / Turquoise: as mentioned above, this step is designed to push back the recesses, add some age to the metal, and retrieve the metallic coloring if it begins to feel too gold. As I clean the rest of the model’s robbed area with green/turquoise layers, I pull some of that color into the extreme shades of the model. This is not a wash, but rather a gentle application of very, very thin paint into those specific areas that want attention. I feel the treatment here is a little heavy, to be candid, but illustrative all the same. The complementary nature of the green to bronze helps, I believe, create the illusion of worn and aged bronze. Fingers crossed.

And lo, the Protectorate has three new Bastions. Unfortunately, these fellows have yet to really produce for me on the table. Quite the contrary, Deneghra has made muppets of them on two at least two different occasions now, in which she convinced them to tickle either each other or, worse, humble Kreoss with those lengthy, pointy halberds… ah well.   


Brian Carlson said...

Brian, thanks for the tutorial. I'll have to try this method. I'm so used to doing gold, I'd like to try the bronze method for a change for my Tomb Kings.

Alexander Man said...

Great tutorial! I´ve been trying to paint broze few times, but never was happy with the result... I´ll try this. Thanks man!

Stahly said...

Hi there!

Have you already checked out my new hobby blog, Tale of Painters? I've joined forces with Sigur and Garfy, whose models you've probably seen in various forums or on the blog on We've got tutorials, showcases, reviews and various projects going on, e.g. Garfy posts about assembling and painting a mighty Thunderhawk!

We've also started a new Blog Network! Join by adding a Tale of Painters banner to your blog, and your newest posts will appear in the Network widget over at Tale of Painters! A great way to promote your blog and find new readers! On top of that, the crew at Tale of Painters keeps a close eye to the Network and will present the best posts in a post of their own!

So come over and check out, I'd very glad about it ;)

Brian said...

@ Brian. I'd love to hear how this works out for you... well, I hope.

@ Alexander. Same again. Please let me know if this helps in practical terms. I am always interested in revisions and amendments.

@ Stahly. I have added you to the blogroll. Looking forward to more great content. Cheers!

Hexeter said...

Your timing with this is EPIC. I just got my hands on several bastions and was a bit at a loss as to how to start them off. I will be trying this method soon :)