Hobby Time: Glowing Metal Tutorial

Over the last few weeks, I've been working steadily on a commission for a friend of mine, and he asked me to go all out on his Avatar of Menoth.

As a result, I've gotten to practice a lot of techniques that don't often come up when you're painting tabletop level commissions, such as True Metallic Metals, Glow Effects, and multiple multiple levels of Shading and Highlighting.

I decided to go nuts on the Avatar's Sword and make it look like a bar of superheated metal, and when I posted a picture of the first side of the blade done, I got quite a few questions about how I did it, resulting in this little tutorial. I hope it is useful!


Okay sorry, that one is a big deal and if you don't follow that rule, nothing that follows is going to work for you.

Step one:

Base coat the blade with a dull but very opaque yellow or tan. This is important because a very bright yellow color will take dozens of coats to cover black primer without showing the underlying black through the yellow.

For my own project, I used p3 Sulfur Yellow for the basecoat.

Take the time to put down a couple of thin layers (I think this was three layers here) to get a very smooth basecoat. Remember, you're showing trying to convey polished metal, even if it is super heated.

Step two:

Take your bright yellow, and put down a few thin layers over the entirety of the dull yellow. Again, smoothness is important here so a couple of thin coats is better than one thicker coat.

This is p3 Cygnus Yellow.

Step three:

It's time to start glazing in your oranges. The warm colors descend in brightness from yellow to orange to red, and in order to get a smooth transition you need to go through each one.

Unfortunately, getting a nice blend of warm colors is very difficult. I used GW Troll Slayer Orange for my orange tone, and I thinned it down until it was almost translucent before I started putting it on the sword.

You can barely see it on my fingernail, which is exactly where I want it to be.

Another quick note - before you put the brush to the model, make sure it's not overly saturated with liquid. If your glazes pool up, they won't look right as they dry if you shift the model even a little bit. Thin, translucent coats is what we are after here.

For this blade, I glazed the "connecting" edges of the tip of the blade, and then also where the black center bumped into the yellow, leaving the edges alone and also one side of each segment of the tip.

Here is what the blade looks like after one glaze.

You can barely tell I've done anything to the sword right? That's okay. The next few repetitions will cement in the orange color. Take care to use another brush to blend out any really obvious edges where the orange ends and the yellow begins. This is less necessary the thinner your paint is.

Here is the sword after three glazes with the Troll Slayer Orange.

Starting to look much more orange-y and much less yellow-y. You can see where I've left the different edges of the tip alone, and also that I haven't touched the cutting edges of the sword.

Time for the next step!

Step four:

Step four is very similar to Step three, except you substitute the orange with a bright red and paint in less of the surface area.

I used p3 Khador Red Base for this, and just continued putting color in the same spots as I did with the orange, just with a smaller surface area.

Here we are after one glaze:

The Red is a lot stronger of a color than the orange was, and you'll need to feather the edges where you want a smooth blend more than you will with the orange.

All it took was two layers of glaze with the red until I was happy with where it was.

Here is where a lot of beginning painters would probably call it done - it's got all the right colors, and the blending is nice and smooth.

The last step, though, is the most critical to selling this look.

Step five:

Step five requires a pure white, in my case just Vallejo Model White.

Thin it down, but not quite as much as you have the other glazes. We're going to place the white at the points where the metal would be thinnest and most hot. This is the blade edges, and in the yellow bits of the point.

This picture did not turn out quite as well as I thought it had last night, but you get the general idea - the white serves to ramp up the contrast and really make the division in colors in the tip pop.

I also used it on the edges of the blade, coming in a tiny bit where the belly of the sword widens.

If you place highlights that are too large, the effect will be spoiled. Luckily, there's a very easy fix! Take a very thin layer of the bright yellow and go over all of the white area but the extreme highlights and it will work just fine.


I hope this has been helpful! Blending with the warm trio of colors is always tricky, but with patience (seriously, let the paint dry completely between each layer of glaze, highlight, basecoat, you name it) and practice, it can be stunning.