Unusual paints that every SF painter should try

2018-10-01 Khaiell

Do you know Humbrol 130 and Vallejo Metal Medium? They reflect light differently to standard paints and offer new possibilities. Like replicating the old and missed by many Boltgun Metal effect.

First of all this article is almost a forlorn hope as I will be trying to show subtle differences in how various paints reflect light.

And the reflection will be first converted by the sensor of my camera, then by Photoshop, then by the video editing software, then by video compressing algorithms of my computer, than by video compressing algorithms of YouTube, then by video decompressing chip in your device, then by your device’s screen and then finally by your eye-and-brain video decoder. And if you are wearing glasses optimised for reading screens, they also alter the colours.

But I will try nevertheless.

Humbrol 130

Let’s start with Humbrol 130, which has been my go-to science-fiction white since the early 90s. At this time I used the smelly, enamel version of it, but now you can take full advantage of having it in an easier to handle acrylic medium.

What is so special about it? Colour-wise it is just pure white. I measured it and it is just as white as the Citadel’s basic White Scar paint.

The difference is in texture. Back in the days of enamel paints it was designated as silk (in contrast to matt or glossy). This translated well to acrylic and it still reflects light slightly different to other paints, which makes it look a bit like the thing you paint was made of a hard plastic or ceramics.

You can see on the picture here, that the guns of the scorpion tank look distinctly different to the elf fabric and banner. They are both covered with the same semi-glossy varnish.

Eldar Scorpion (Humbrol 130) and High Elves (standard white)
Eldar Scorpion (Humbrol 130) and High Elves (standard white)

This is another interesting thing about the paint. It retains its ceramic-silk reflective properties even after sealing it, which makes my life easier.

If you paint lots of white on your science-fiction models, I recommend you give it a try and see if you like it more, than your standard white.

Vallejo Metal Medium

The second shine-altering paint is this Metal Medium from Vallejo. It promises to turn every colour into metallic by adding a pearly-silvery finish to them.

I used it sometimes on High Elf models to give them a sense of a „magic metal armour”, but my main use is for science-fiction black.

Elf prince from RAFM
Elf prince from RAFM

If you mix it with a basic black paint you get this effect of having a fabric made of futuristic cells of some out-worldly material.

Depending on the proportions of medium to paint, you get either an effect of cyberpunk black, like on some elements of my Eldar,

For example the windows of this titan.

Eldar Revenant Titan from Armorcast
Eldar Revenant Titan from Armorcast

If you add slightly more of the medium, you get the silvery black of the old and missed Boltgun Metal.

So I recommend you give these paints a shot and remember: have fun with your hobby.

See the pictures as separate pages: Guns, windows and joints on this Eldar Revenant Titan from Armorcast, as well as the aspect armour of the Warp Spiders were painted using these techniques.

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