NMM Gold: Beginners Guide on Painting Complex Shapes

This very special tutorial features a guest appearance from NMM maestro Lee Hebblethwaite, AKA 10Ball. Lee’s projects are always creative and feature some of the best non-metallic metal anywhere.  I’m looking forward to trying a few of these ideas around ToadChapel soon!

A colorful sorcerer of Tzeentch wearing ornate armor, which 10Ball has painted in a NMM gold style.


I was asked to write up a guide on NMM areas that are an unusual shape. Luck was with me as I was working on a fantastic fantasy miniature that just happened to have a complex NMM shape…. a bell!

A picture of small brass bells, which 10Ball will use for reference when painting a non-metallic metal version of that shape.A digital image of a brass bell, also used for reference in light placement and reflection.

I always start a miniature by checking out reference pictures, which is one of the finer things about the internet.The paints that 10Bal uses for painting NMM gold. These include Vallejo Model Air White, Vallejo Model Color English Uniform and Japanese Uniform, and Citadel Flash Gitz and Abaddon Black.

The next stage is choosing the right colours. This all depends on the look/feel which you are trying to achieve on your miniature. With this miniature I’m going for a real bright fairytale look that’s not far off a cartoon.

These are the colours I’ve used. Also a quick note on all the other tackle:

Brush: Winsor and Newton Series 7 size 0

Wet pallet with normal tap water and a tiny spot of dish wash soap added.

TIP: I use a hairdryer to quickly dry each glaze/wash of paint to stop the paints going chalky.

Slightly off topic, I can’t stress enough to focus on prepping the miniature, seam lines, joins, dust, etc. It makes Soooooo much difference to the end result.


So with reference photos to hand I start with the base coat of VMC British uniform, keeping the paints watered down over several layers.

A mini of a songbird with a beautiful non-metallic metal bell painted upon its collar.

Reflections upon the painted NMM bell illustrate how to create the impression of a shiny metal surface.

Blend up using VMC Japanese uniform, adding only a few drops at first until there is a 50/50 mix.

I’ve shaded by adding a tiny amount of black to the British uniform and glazed in the darker areas. As with the layers add the shade glazes over several layers waiting for each to dry (hairdryer). ‘Drag’ the paint layer from the highest (lightest) to the lowest (darkest) point with the tip of the brush so the colour pigment ends up strongest in the required areas.

Blend up the highlights till you get to pure Japanese uniform. Keep in mind this bell is only around 4mm in size so just the tiniest touch is needed with each layer.

With a very milk-like glaze I’ve dotted the white area highlights, which will look terrible at first, but by a series of glazing back over with the Japanese uniform and some patience you will achieve a smooth blend.

The areas will look brownish in places so again with very thin glazes I went over with yellow to try and get a more gold metal look.

In select places I’ve used the smallest dot of pure white to get a shine. Go easy with this, as it’s easy to get carried away.

Some reflections from the surrounding objects and environment enrich the look of the painted metal bell.

Very carefully using some of the colours from the bird I glazed in one or two reflections, which can be very effective or can crash and burn. So be careful but hey ho you can always start again! It’s only paint lol.A classic barbarian mini holding an enormous sword shows off some of 10Ball's NMM silver. Strong glints and reflections create a chrome effect.

I’ve added another example of a NMM reflection I painted, albeit a lot more cartoony.

Hope some of these tips help you out and remember to enjoy the painting 🙂

• Lee (10 ball)


I asked Lee to give us a bit of background on himself as a painter. Here’s what he said.

My painting journey really started whilst being obsessed with the classic Sinbad movies and the like. Being glued to the television watching a fighting skeleton made a lasting impression!

Then when I was around 10 years old I had a board game for Christmas that introduced me to a hobby I didn’t know existed.  The game was Heroquest. Inside was a new fantasy world that’s had me hooked ever since.

I discovered Games Workshop and White Dwarf magazine and what followed was an obsession of hours upon hours upon hours of trying to copy the amazing miniatures. Winning a Golden Demon became a life goal pushed on and inspired by painting heroes like David Soper and Mike McVey and finally after a lot of practice, sweat, and tears (literally) I realised my hobby goal at the age of 39 and won my first Demon.

Now the hobby world is bigger and more exciting than ever with new miniature manufacturers and other competitions, and I’m still hooked as I was when I was 10 years old. I’ve made some amazing friends, including some of my painting heroes of years past.

To quote Winston Churchill –
‘Painting is a companion with whom one may hope to walk a great part of life’s journey.’

I will be painting until I’m a skeleton!

Lee lives in the West Midlands, England.  He builds Aston Martins for a living.


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