Friday 29 June 2012

Coping with NMM Copper - an illustrated painting guide.

As my latest project has required me to have a go at painting NMM copper. I thought I'd post an illustrated guide to my technique as an addition to my earlier guide to Painting NMM armour.

Before going any further I need to point out that most of the colours I've used are from the old Games workshop paint range. I'm using up my stocks before buying new so I will talk about the type of colour needed as well as an exact colour reference.

My Colour Palette for copper.

Base colour/shade:

Deep Red/Brown (Scorched Brown)

Mid tones:

Deep Red/Brown + Vallejo Ivory


Vallejo Ivory


Mid warm Brown (Calthan Brown) & Deep Orange (Blazing Orange)


Deep Blue/Green (Hawk Turquoise) & Vallejo Ivory

Painting guide.

The basic principles are the same as any other NMM in that you need to achieve a strong contrast between the highlight and shade. Make sure that the midtones have a smooth transition and that the highlights are as small, sharp and precise as possible.

The trick to getting a convincing copper effect seems to be in picking the right colour palette. On initial consideration it seems obvious that copper would be best represented by using orange/brown tones but a little research suggested a slightly different approach.

Orange needs to feature in the effect but it seems best used as a secondary colour to add some warmth and nuance to the shadows. Copper can often appear to have a somewhat cool pinkish cast to it's colour and this is the look I have tried to represent. As I was also aiming for an antique look to the copper I tried to keep the tones fairly muted and not too light/bright in the mid range.

The picture above was particularly influential on my approach to NMM copper.
Notice the cooler pinkish cast to the colour on the lighter side
as opposed to the warmer orangey tones on the shaded side.

Step 1 Base colour/shade.

Select a shade of dark brown that has a lot of red in it for your base colour. The colour I used was the old Citadel Scorched Brown.

Step 2 Mid Tones & Highlight.

Gradually add on ivory colour to the base colour to create the mid tones. As you lighten the base colour the presence of red means that the colour will develop a (comparatively) pinkish look. Continue to lighten the colour untill you wuse pure ivory for the final highlights. Remember to keep the final stages of highlights as small, sharp and precise as possible.

Once fully highlighted go back over the mid tone and shade areas with an orange/brown glaze this will help to make the cooler pink tones stand out by providing some contrast

Step 3 Verdegris.

Once the copper is painted up it's time to have fun applying verdigris. How much of the affect you use is very much a matter of choice. verdigris can be kept to a few spots of green in the recesses or it could entirely cover the copper in a rough crust. I'd advise a quick picture search for inspiration and reference. The colour can vary greatly from green through bluish tones to white. Personally I like to have a bit of a mix. I first apply my green tones as a wash and then, before that colour is dry, dab on another wash of a pale green/ivory mix. You can continue to build up varying green & pale green layers until you are happy with the result. This is one situation where you really don't want a perfectly smooth colour blend but instead aim for a blotchy stained look.



The verdigris effect can be used equally well with proper metallics.
Here the copper is heavily weathered in some areas and the
'stain' has run over the surrounding stone.


  1. Interesting article, as I'm in the midst of painting some NMM copper myself.

    your verdigris is nicely spoot on, I have used vallejo's verdigris effect from time to time, but find i still need a little hawk turquise in there for punch..

    As to the copper colour itself, my most recent effort is a little brown at present, need to get more red in there..

    It's paint jobs like this that make me really miss the old "Swamp Brown" from the original Citadel paints :)

  2. Sublime stuff!

    Thanks for the recipe, I'll be sure to give it a whirl sometime. :)

  3. Thanks Sproket, this is going to be great for the rackham dwarfs that Im painting next.

  4. Thank you for colour-mix recipe. The iron and gold NMM are not so difficult, but copper is not so clear.