View Full Version : painting silver

09-22-2000, 10:15 PM
I am just starting to get the hang of painting with acrylics, and there is one color that eludes me, no matter how I practice. I need any and all tips on how to produce silver; what colors to use, how to get the right shine, etc. Thanx

Everyone wants to go to Heaven...no one wants to die...

09-23-2000, 08:05 AM
If you are trying to emulate silver with your regular acrylics in a painting here are some tips...

Silver reflects everything surrounding it, fabric, sky, flesh, other silver, etc., therefore you could find you need to use several colors. I would first sit and look awhile at the silver you wish to portray. Close one eye and just look around at the reflections within and the contours of the silver. What do you see in your situation?

Basically silver is a cool color, but when other colors are reflected by and into it, there are warm areas, cool areas, dark areas, light areas, and sometimes that glint of highlight here and there which really displays it's metallic characteristic. (Use these highlights sparingly and strategically.)

Some artists of the past did not like painting metals, others specialized in them. Study the works of artists who have done silver to help as well.

To paint in acrylic is much the same as with oil when it comes to the application of paint. The most simple way I have found to paint silver, is to first identify the "local" or overall color the silver seems to be...the color, the warmth/coolness compared to it's surroundings. Paint the silver object overall with this color varying your strokes so it does not look flat. Next, find the darkest dark....the color, etc. and place that in as well. Next, the nearest lightest, light, the color, etc. Work your way around just as you would any other object. You'll find silver has blue, yellow, orange, green, and all mixtures of glorious color-filled grays.

Test painting just a spoon or simple object, then work up to something more complex. Don't paint in everything you see, just the primary reflections. If you overdo it you may loose the very thing you're trying to capture. Carefully selected colors/temperatures in just the right places is all you need...this also goes for painting gold or brass as well.

Hope this helps http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

LDianeJohnson.com (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com)
Workshops for 2001 (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops)

10-30-2000, 02:07 PM
Originally posted by Morrigana:
I am just starting to get the hang of painting with acrylics, and there is one color that eludes me, no matter how I practice. I need any and all tips on how to produce silver; what colors to use, how to get the right shine, etc. Thanx

To call silver a color is a misnomer. Silver as I think you mean it is metallic and like a mirror it is reflective. Metalic objects (eg, the chrome of or brass knobs on the bathroom faucet)do not reflect with the accuracy of a mirror because their shapes are generally not flat. What is reflected iis distorted accordingly. Silver will reflect the colors and the color temperature of the objects surrounding them. Brass willhave an overall yellowish cast. One way to begin practicing reproducing the characteristics of reflective objects is to control the color reflection of the environment. Try placing the object on white fabric with a color pattern having a single color.(e.g. blue stripe on white ground) This might simplify the patterns so you can begin learning how to control the values and colors. Gradually increase the complexity of the environment with each attempt so that you stretch the skills you acquired. This way you learn to paint reflective objects in an incremental way and keep the frustration level to a minimum. Good luck! Let me know how you do.


10-30-2000, 09:19 PM
In computer art, a cheat for metallic objects is an "environment map", where a picture of the surrounding objects is wrapped upon the surface. the idea is that a metallic object doesn't have a color, it reflects the colors around it. That isn't all that helpful, so a better place to get info is at the following url: <a href="http://www.goodbrush.com/mainpage/index2.htm">http://www.goodbrush.com/mainpage/index2.htm</a>

look for the section on the section on the class Rob McCann and Strother MacMinn taught. It has some great lessons on how to draw generalizable metallic surfaces using markers.

"Art is anything you can get away with." -- Marshall McLuhan

11-28-2000, 09:15 PM
Underlying any reflections "caught" by the metallic silver-you might try:
1)for body tone: Black, White, & Yellow Ochre
2)for body shadow color: Black, White, Burnt Umber & Pthalo blue
3)for dark accents: Black, White, & Burnt Umber
4)for highlights: Black, White & Alizarin Crimson (or a Quinacridone Magenta or Quinacridone Violet)

(note--It is possible to make your own Burnt Umber by mixing a bright yellow (lemon) and smaller amounts of Quinacridone Magenta and Pthalo Blue if you are working from the "new primaries"--but most of us still have some "earth colors" on hand in their own tubes.)

Keith Russell
11-29-2000, 08:55 PM

the best way to paint metal is to spend a great deal of time looking at metallic objects.

Things that are easy to find, and very reflective, are silverware; mirrors; motorcycle engines, handlebars, and exhaust pipes; wristwatches; toy cars; bumpers and hubcaps; staplers; and Christmas ornaments; (I actually bought a Christmas ornament last year to use as a reference in a painting. The ornament had the same odd shape as an object in my painting. It worked perfectly.)

The other thing to do is look at how other artists render reflective surfaces.

Two of the best artists I know doing this type of rendering are British illustrator Tim White, and Japanese airbrush artist extraordinaire Hajime Sorayama. (If you are easily offended, you might wish to avoid Sorayama's work...)


Keith Russell
Synthetic Sky Studios
Science Fiction Fine Art
[email protected]