Edge Highlighting Black Armour Tutorial

This is a method for edge highlighting black armour. It is not, by any means, the only method but it is a method I worked out and enjoy using for angular black armour. It’s best suited to tanks, gunships and battlesuits. Anything with sharp edges and minimal smooth curves.

For the purpose of this method, I’ve used Vallejo primer and also their Game Colour range or paints but there are a number of handy conversion charts available online if you use a different paint range.

Stage 1:

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I’ve started here with a nice smooth undercoat or Vallejo Black Primer. Some of the really tricky little overhangs and recesses were touched in with a little of the primer and a small brush.

The model was then given a subtle zenithal highlight with the airbrush. The recipe for this is the same black primer with a little charcoal grey, a touch of blue ink and a little airbrush thinner. The highlight was shot in several light passes from above. Giving a little more emphasis to the ridges and hatches etc. on top of the model.

I should say that the zenithal highlight is by no means essential but it does add a nice little boost to the general tone of the model.

Stage 2:

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Generally speaking I tend to keep my edge highlights brightest on edges facing towards an imagined light source. In the case of this model, that light source would be directly above. I don’t like to leave downward facing edge completely devoid of highlight though so this first highlight covers pretty much ever edge. This just helps define the edge and accounts for reflected light etc.

This first highlight is thinned charcoal grey. I often add a little flow improver and drying retarder to help the paint flow onto the edge without causing a build up and blobbing.

Stage 3:

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Next up I add Sombre Grey to the Charcoal Grey on the palette. Ideally you are looking for around a 50/50 mix but it’s all really down to you own opinion.

Apply the mix carefully with edge of the brush but towards the end of the bristles. Slow and steady. Work from the uppermost facing edges and points and work towards the lower areas. In this way, the paint on the brush lessens as you go and becomes less visible as you get to the darker more shadowed areas.

Stage 4:

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Pure Sombre Grey comes next. Again. Add a little medium if you wish but do thin the paint a little. Repeat the process from Stage 3. This time, though, you are looking to highlight less of the edges. Let the paint fade out as before but leave more of the lower darker areas showing.

Stage 5:

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Add some Stonewall Grey to the Sombre Grey on the palette. Stonewall is a warmer grey than Sombre and helps take some of the blue out of the overall look of the colour scheme.

Working once again from the highest or most upward facing edges. Allow the paint to thin out letting even more of the darker edging show.

Stage 6:

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You’ll notice by this paint that there’s not much of the upper facing edge left . So at this point, you’ll need to use some pure Stonewall Grey thinned slightly to touch upon the points and small edges facing upwards.

As a further option. If you want a really high-contrast glossy look to the armour. Add a sharpish dot of pure white to the very highest edges and point to act as light glinting off the edges.

author avatar mark Hawkins

Mark Hawkins is a UK based hobbyist and miniature painter. Old as the hills and just as craggy. He started painting models at a very early age and painted his first Citadel Miniature in 1982, An Orc Villager. His working life stretches from a stint at the GW studio, working as a graphic designer for several video games companies and finally settling down to family life and miniature painting in a small village on the Isle of Wight.

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