How to Paint Everything: Lazy Non-Metallic Metal

This week we have a guest column by fine painter and all-around cool dude, Eric Beers! Join us for this quick and easy tutorial on how to get a non-metallic metal effect, fast.

Non-metallic metal (NMM) has a reputation for looking fantastic but being slow and difficult to paint.  I’ll demonstrate through this tutorial that you can achieve good results (perhaps not competition winning, but certainly nice) with a modicum of effort!

Several methods can produce a good NMM result.  The spectacular, eye tricking results you see winning Golden Demons are generally accomplished with wet blending, but my patented “Lazy Metallic Metal” (LMM) focuses primarily on glazing/rough highlights and looks great from tabletop distance.

Let’s get started!

  • Supplies:
    • Wet palette (you have one right?)
    • Paint
      • Vallejo Black
      • Dryad Bark
      • Mournfang Brown
      • XV-88
      • Yriel Yellow
      • Pallid Wych Flesh
      • White Artist Ink
    • Phone Camera


I’ll demonstrate two examples of my technique on differently shaped surfaces to give a sense of how to approach LMM.

Example 1: Autocannon Ejector Port

In general, NMM is about contrast.  To convincingly sell the effect, think about how light would bounce off of an object and slowly build up to a pure white highlight at the hottest point.  As an aid, it can be useful to take a picture of the area with a light coming from the direction you’d like to mimic to use as reference.  I’ve base coated the port black, positioned the light directly above the mini, and taken a reference photo.  Note the spots on the skull that reflect the most light.


Now, all we have to do is build up the color towards white, adding in some color along the way. The first highlight I used is a 50/50 mix of Vallejo Black and Dryad Bark, focusing on the “top” of the skull.


Next, pure Dryad Bark:


Now a 50/50 mix of Dryad Bark and Mournfang Brown.  With each successive highlight it is important to focus on a smaller area as we narrow in on the hotspot where pure white is reflected.

There was a pure Mournfang Brown step in here, but I lost the image.

Mournfang Brown/XV-88 Mix:

XV-88/Yriel Yellow:

Yriel Yellow/Pallid Wych Flesh:

Pure White.  Make sure to focus this just on the hard edges or the very small point where pure white is reflected!

That’s it! With that done, you have a passable NMM effect. This is what my wet palette looked like after painting this:

Below, you can find some reference steps for a slightly more complex shape, the pauldron from a Chaos Space Marine!


As you can see, the blending is quite rough here.  Up close you are able to see distinct colors and layer lines but, from a few feet away, it all blends together and you end up with a nice effect! I hope this has been helpful and demonstrated that NMM doesn’t have to be intimidating or out of reach. With some simple glazing and highlighting you can achieve a good result without spending hundreds of hours!

Thanks, Eric! If you want to see more of Mr. Beers’ beautiful little spacemans, follow him on Instagram at @alphericus