How to Paint the Metal Effect? - Reflective Surfaces


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How to Paint the Metal Effect - Reflective Surfaces

Shiny metallic surfaces always add a striking factor to paintings. When browsing a museum or art gallery, we pay particular attention to works that represent a flash of gold, silver, or other metal. However, closer examination shows that its reflective sheen is the result of a simple juxtaposition of colors, shadows, and reflections. Read on to learn more about the intricacies of painting on metal.

Very bright metals

Highly reflective metal surfaces render differently than matte or low-gloss metal surfaces, and the look of high-gloss metal is actually very easy to capture. In this case, what you are painting is not really the metallic object, but the reflected shapes projected by the surrounding environment and distorted by the contours of the metallic object. In other words, you are only painting abstract shapes in one shape. To make the metal believable, look carefully and paint the shapes you see rather than focusing on the object as a whole.

When painting these shapes, you will need to use a full range of values, from the whitest whites to the darkest. However, the values ​​are determined by the values ​​of objects reflected in the surrounding environment rather than the lights and shadows cast by a light source. There is not much mixing when rendering an object with high brightness. The hard lines of the shapes reflected in a shape are what give the object a realistic shine.

The colors of these reflected shapes are nuanced by the base color of the metal in which they are reflected.

Highly polished silver is virtually colorless, and distorted reflective shapes retain their natural color. Gold or brass tints reflected objects in yellow, and copper tints reflected a coral color.

Low gloss metals

Matte metallic surfaces have more mixed shadows and reflections than high-gloss surfaces. These duller surfaces always have values ​​ranging from darkest possible for shadows to whitest white for highlights; however, a matte surface shows the light source more clearly, and shadows and reflections have more to do with the light source than surrounding objects, the reflections of which are darkened or diffused on the matte surface.

The type of metal you represent determines the colors of your painting, and those colors extend outward from the white highlight, from pale and warm to dark and cool. This progression gives the object depth because warm colors seem to come your way and cool colors seem to recede. Squinting when looking at the object helps you see changes in value. When all the colors are in place, gently blend outward from the highlight, keeping the smudge brush clean as you go. When mixing is complete, you will have the image of an object shimmering with a shiny metallic sheen.

You can do it!

Capturing the magical shine of metals, whether shiny or low-gloss, will definitely draw attention to your paintings. But the best part is that with a little practice, you'll find that metal flash (and lens flare) is easy to paint.


Very shiny metallic objects have these characteristics:

  • reflective shapes with hard edges in the shape of the object
  • a full range of values, determined by the reflected objects
  • reflections tinted by the color of the metal

Matte or low-gloss metallic objects have these characteristics:

  • mixed shadows and reflections
  • a full range of values, determined by the light source
  • diffuse or darkened reflections
  • colors determined by the type of metal represented

I hope You enjoy the video!

source: Mont Marte Art

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