I'm back! What a week I had, but it's now back to the coloring board. Today I wanted to talk about coloring things to look like metal. I'll do a different post on coloring things that ARE metal, but today we'll talk about simple metal things, and I'll ry to keep this a beginner post.
The color of metal
If you think of something metal the first color that comes to mind is a plain, silvery color, since this is the most common metal color - silverware, galvanized steel, chrome etc.
Don't forget that metal things come in all shades of color, from the deep black of cast iron, to the bright yellow of gold, the reddish tones of copper, and many other colors in between. I already talked a while ago about coloring gold, so today I'm going to work with galvanized steel / basic silvery metal.
Silvery metal is a cool color, though very reflective and neutral. For this reason, I will be working mostly in cool grays. If you have objects near your metal then the metal may pick up reflected hints of that color as well.
A few things to consider about metal
• Shiny metal has more contrast and sharper lines between light and dark
• Dull or textured metal (galvanized) will have softer blends
• Shiny metal reflects light in very odd ways, so always try to look at a photo before coloring something
• When metal has direction, streaks are OK to accent this (see below)
There's a whole lot more things to worry about out there, but this is fine to start with today.
Galvanized Steel Watering Can
Galvanized steel looks like the chip-board of metal (photo courtesy of www.images.asia.ru). It is made up of lots of chunks of metal and therefore is not quite as crisp in it's reflections, so this is an easy type of metal to start with.
Steel is generally a light, cool gray, so I will be working with cool grays. Notice in the photo though that the metal picks up tones of whatever is around it, so don't be tricked by the warm gray areas in the picture. For now, just concentrate on the cool gray.
Before I colored this watering can I ran a quick search online for "metal watering can" images as a reference. Then, as I like to do with complex areas I made a simplified diagram of the colored areas based on looking at 2 or 3 pictures.
In general, a watering can is made of two cylinders, so please refer to this older post to brush up on the rules of shading.
My light is coming from the front left, so my strongest highlights will be on that side. My deepest shadows will be on the opposite side. The softer light is a reflection, so it will be less bright than my main highlight. Since I am coloring galvanized steel I will soften my shading instead of having crisp edges, though this is a matter of personal taste.
I start with C3 and I am coloring in streaks following the bend of the can. This helps accent the ribs on the can, and increases the feel of reflection. I darken the far side with C5. Don't forget to shade under each wrinlke of the can ribs, and leave the top of each rib white, as it catches the light differently.
Next I go back with my colorless blender. I start in the middle of the whitest highlight and I am softly pushing the color back to each side (don't oversoak!). Then I come from the other highlight and do the same. I want to work smoothly so I don't get "puddles" of blender and leave crisp edges. I can also use the blender to add light back in on the top of each rib of the can.
You'll notice that your colors get much lighter as you add colorless blender, so after you're done blending, go back with your darker colors and deepen those shadows again (don't forget to darken under the spout and the handle). It's OK to darken in slight streaks as well. Now our watering can looks like shiny metal. At this point I could layer in other reflective colors or add some reddish brown rust, but I think I like it how it is.
For my final image today you can see that I colored it in exactly the same way as our practice above, the only difference is that this picture has more details and I left a tiny hint of a white relfection along the dark edge (this also makes the dark stand out more). Notice how the subtle streaks in the metal help you feel the reflective nature as well. If you look at the other colors I chose to use in the picture you will see some high-contrast colors. I used a lot of tip-to-tip blending on my tiny areas, since this drawing isn't very large (drawn on color laser copier paper with 0.2 mm multiliner SP).