View Full Version : Dark Armor of Renaissance Age

07-19-2015, 11:22 PM
I am curious how many of you would handle painting the dark, black armor common to many Renaissance/Baroque paintings. Attached is an example (I hope). I do believe the armor is actually black and not just painted darkly for high contrast/chiascuro purposes.

I know the fundamentals of painting metallics, I am sort of mostly curious about pallet choices. It looks like 75 percent is very dark, black and appears highly glossy. Then there is the very bright gleaming spots of near white in very selective places. I've seen where some have included glazes of some very saturated colors, like teal, and later blended these in.

Curious for two reasons. First, I'd really like to paint some scenes from Ruben and Van Dyke and Caravaggio that have armor like this in them. But more immediately, I am painting a miniature bust, about 1/9
scale, of Sir Thomad Wentworth. It is based on a painting by Van Dyke and he is wearing some of this black armor. Most of the time I paint my miniatures with acrylics, but I am trying something new here. I'll be applying some silver leaf, and then toning it with oil paint afterwards. I imagine painting on top of silver leaf will be different than painting on top of canvas, but many of the fundamentals should apply.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

07-20-2015, 08:58 AM
You are correct that the armour was actually black not just painted that way for chiaroscurro. Blackened armour was quite common in the period.

07-20-2015, 11:17 PM
I`m not exactly sure what your main question is. I`m guessing it`s about palette choices?

With a little research you can find a a lot of the palettes of the Old Masters.
Diego Velázquez
WHITE: composed of lead white and calcite
YELLOW: yellow iron oxide, lead-tin yellow, and Naples yellow (the latter, sparingly)
ORANGE: orange iron oxide and vermilion of mercury
RED: red iron oxide, vermilion of mercury, and organic red lake
BLUE: azurite, lapis lazuli, and smalt
BROWN: brown iron oxide and manganese oxide
BLACK: organic black of vegetal or animal origin
GREEN: azurite, iron oxide, and lead-tin yellow
PURPLE: organic red lake and azurite

Lapis Lazuli (natural ultramarine or lazurite)
Lead-Tin Yellow
Italian Yellow Earth
Ercolano Red
Lead White
German Vine Black

Venetian Red
Italian Yellow Earth
Italian Brown Ocher
Italian Burnt Sienna
Bone Black
Lamp Black
Ivory Black
Peach Black
Flake White

Van Dyck

Lead white
Charcoal black
Lamp black
Raw umber
Yellow ochre
Red ochre
Madder lake (sub. Alizarin Crimson)
Lead-tin yellow (sub. Cadmium Yellow)
Lapis lazuli
Green earth
Cassel Earth
Smalt (sub. Cobalt blue)

Lead white
Bone black
Raw umber
Burnt umber
Lead-Tin Yellow
Cassel earth

source: http://oilcolorpalettes.blogspot.de/

I feel like you should be able todraw a lot of inspiration from doing research.
I would try playing around with dark earth colours (maybe mixed with blacks) on top of the silver leaf.

I`m sorry if this wasn`t what you were looking for? Maybe rephrase on what exactly you would like advice?

07-21-2015, 11:23 AM
Yes, sorry I suppose my question was rather rambled, disjointed and disconnected. I'll be more clear:

How would you go about painting painting black armor like the Old Masters?
As an example of a response I am looking for, I'll say how I would do it:

First, I would apply a very thinned Ivory Black in the darkest areas. This would probably take up around 80 percent on the armor's surface, varied by a piece of armors exposure to light, of course. Then I would take a warm gray and apply it, but most of this gray will be covered and blended with a bright l near pure zinc white. A small amount of the gray half tone will remain though, and I would also glaze some teal green or other cool, saturated tones in with the half tones here and there, but would blend them out so that they unify and harmonize the half tones and add some nuance to the otherwise neutral colors. When this layer dries I'll then add a more opaque layer of black in the darkest shadows, and some select thick placement of pure white in the brightest highs.

Just curious how you all would do it in a sort of step by step process. And then secondarily, how would your process change if you were painting this over silver leaf?

Thanks all for the responses thus far! :)

08-06-2015, 02:23 PM
Galena PbS is a pigment what Raphael used to paint armor. Galena can never be extremely dark, it holds metallic gloss and metallic color very well!

08-07-2015, 03:36 AM
I've never painted on silver foil, but I think the "problem" with your question is that what colors you mix always depends on what colors are around it in the painting.

For the above example, everything around the armor it is as dark, so I'd first look at the black and see if it's a warm black or a cool black.. If it's warm I'd add Alizarin Crimson or Burnt Umber, if it's cool I'd add some Ultramarine blue.

I usually mix a black from Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber, that lets you mix a cold/warm black depending on the ratios pretty easily.