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A Guide to Versatile Metallic Paints

  • by Simon Frisby

Hey there! We’re back for another lesson in metallic paints, though this time, we’ll be checking out exactly how versatile the versatile set truly is from Etchr’s pearlescent watercolour line.

I’ll show a few tips and tricks to get you started, then a few more to keep you going. There will be a slight overlap with the other post about using metallic paint, but otherwise, we’ll be stepping out into the unknown.

Paint Prep and Choices

As with all pan-form watercolour paints, it’s a good idea to spritz your paints with water five minutes before you want to use them. Doing so is doubly true for metallic watercolours because they shine best when they’re not very diluted.

I also recommend using a synthetic paintbrush here because the glitter inside the paint could ruin a natural hair paintbrush. As for paper, you can pick between white or black watercolour paper. While metallic paint shows up better on black paper (especially the pearl colour!), using white paper allows you to incorporate regular watercolour paint into your painting too.

Bonus tip: If you plan to use black paper, you could also consider using gouache paint instead or regular watercolour, as it will show up on the paper better than regular watercolour paint. 

When you have all your tools prepped, it’s time to swatch your paints! Etchr’s versatile pearlescent set includes a sheet of watercolour paper just for swatches, with labels and all, making the process much easier. If you plan to paint on black paper, I recommend swatching on black paper to see how it affects the resulting colour.

Making Your Own Metallic Colours

A bonus to this Etchr set is that they’re still technically watercolour paints, so you can mix them to create different colours! You can also combine it with regular watercolour paints, though it may dilute the shine a bit.

Side note: I like the Royal Purple mixed with Copper for an earthy metallic purple; Sapphire and Elegant Black for metallic indigo; and Ruby with Symphony Yellow for metallic peach. What colour combinations can you find?

In any case, it’s always a good idea to think of good colour combinations ahead of time—experiment by mixing metallic colours, pairing metallic colours, pairing metallic with regular colours, etc. If you know which colours work well together, the painting process becomes much easier as you have the references you need to mix or pair colours that suit your painting.

Go and Shine!

I especially like this pearlescent set because while the paints are labelled as “semi-transparent”, they still allow adaptive flexibility. For example, if I want a robust and opaque shine, I can do two layers of the paint for better coverage. Or, if I want just a light sparkle effect, I can dilute the paint more to add the subtle shine.

The “versatile” in “versatile set” also means I’m not limited to silvers and golds, making it easy to create more colourful combinations. While metallic paints may not be for everyone, they are a unique accent that can spice up any painting, especially those with a modern or fantastical twist.

In any case, if you’re looking for a solid set of pearlescent watercolour paints, try Etchr’s set paired with 100% cotton watercolour paper! And remember that even a little shine can go a very long way. 

Have you experimented with metallic paints before? If so, what are your favourite things to paint using these paints? Let us know in the comments below!

Nicola Tsoi is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Hong Kong. She likes to watch birds do funny things, search for stories, and bake up a storm during her downtime. She keeps a pet sourdough starter named Doughy. 

 

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