Best Metallic Paints for Miniatures – 2023’s Amazing New Picks

Let’s start this one off with a tier list. There are a fair amount of really top quality metallic paints for miniatures now and it’s worth laying them out. After that I will get into the best for specific metal colors: Silvers, Golds, Copper, Bronze etc.

Miniature Painting Metallic Paint Tier List – 2023

Vallejo Metal Color: S Tier + Vallejo Metal Color is the best metallic paint for miniatures. I’ve used them for years and nothing has beat them. The only caveat here is that there is only one shade of gold and one of copper, the rest are silver.

I use the silvers and the copper on almost every miniature I paint.

Pro Acryl Metallics: A Tier + Fantastic paints. Wide variety of colors. Excellent coverage and smooth application. I’ll go into my favorites below in more depth.

Scale 75 Metal n’ Alchemy: A Tier Very strong contender with a good range of colors. I still use them regularly. See below for specific recommendations on the ones I love the most. A lot of times it’s personal preference, but I know I really appreciate when others give their favorites.

Liquitex Metallic Inks: B Tier These are fairly new to me. They are easy to work with but the coverage is not up to Metal Color. I’m trying them with mixing colors to make colored metallics, and for that they are very good.

Vallejo Model and Game Color: C Tier They are fine. Not particularly smooth but good coverage. If you have used these before, this is baseline. Any of the S, or A tier paints will be a huge difference in how they flow.

Citadel Metallics: C Tier Similar to Vallejo Model and Game color these are ok. Larger pigments make them look speckled. One big thing to note is Citadel range has some fantastic colors. Screaming Bell, Leadbelcher, Retributor Armour. Iconic colors if you’re into Warhammer 40k.

Army Painter Metallics: C Tier Again these are fine, but not the best. You may like some of the color formulations. Any of the higher tier paints are better, but if you’re looking for that particular shade and AP has it, go for it.

With the tier list out of the way I wanted to go through the shades on their own. Many brands have stand out colors. A silver here, a shade of gold there, another shade of copper or brass. It’s personal preference and I encourage you to try the high end metallics to find your favorites.

Let’s start with Silver and Gold Metallics for Miniatures:

Silver and Gold

The Best Silver Metallic Paints for Miniatures:

When it comes to any shade of Silver, Vallejo Metal Color is the best metallic paint for miniatures. By a large margin. Very small metallic pigments, smooth enough to use through an airbrush right out of the bottle, works perfectly with a paint brush and gives excellent coverage. All those properties make this paint #1 in Silver Metallic Paints for Miniatures.

If you’re painting miniatures, you’ll use a lot of silvers. Swords, spears, axes, gun barrels, armor, shields and more. You’ll want brighter silver, steel, dark shades like Gunmetal Grey and more.

If the only metallics you’ve used are standard acrylics like Citadel, Army Painter or Vallejo Model or Game color, you owe it to yourself to try Vallejo Metal Color. The difference is night and day.

If I had to pick one it would be Metal Color Steel. Or this set of 4.

Other Silver Metallic Paints for Miniatures

I use Vallejo Metal Color for all my silvers/steels. That said, there are alternatives that do a solid job. I always recommend trying different brands, see what works for you. Then you can make better decisions.

The best alternatives include:

Pro Acryl Metallic Paints: The Silver and Dark Silver are very good, and if I didn’t use Metal Color I’d use these. The reason to get a full set of Pro Acryl metallics though is the Gold, Bronze and Copper options from this range. Fantastic.

Scalecolor Metal N’ Alchemy: The set is great but you can buy individual ones to try out. Sometimes they sell out, so search around. For this category I like Heavy Metal and Black Metal.

Scale 75 really shines in the Gold category.

Liquitex Silver Ink: Very smooth, bright, and easy to mix with other colors to tint the shades. I don’t love the coverage, and what you put under it matters. I suggest black undercoat, but it depends what you’re looking to do.

The Best Gold Metallic Paint for Miniatures

With Gold Metallic paints, unfortunately we seem to have to make a choice. Vallejo Metal Color does have a Gold shade. If you like that Gold, you’re set. They also have a Copper, which I personally like very much, but it’s not really gold.

With Gold, I find that I go more towards the shade I want over any other properties. With that being said, there is a range of paint I reach for more often for gold:

The Best Gold Metallic Paint for Miniatures is Scale 75 Scalecolor Metal N’ Alchemy paints. They offer a wide variety of gold shades, they are easy to work with, have small pigment size and excellent coverage.

My favorites in this range include:

  1. Elven Gold: This has that bright, rich gold color.
  2. Dwarven Gold: A slightly deeper shade of gold.
  3. Viking Gold: Dark and matte gold
  4. Decayed Metal: This is on my list because it’s an excellent undercoat for gold. It gives a good shadow layer to build on.

Alternative Gold Metallic paints:

A very strong runner up to the Metal N Alchemy paints are Pro Acryl Metallic Paints. They have a nice trio of Rich Gold, Bright Gold and White Gold. I also love the Light Bronze as a sort of gold color in some cases, or mixing that in with other colors to take it down a bit.

Other Gold metallic paint to consider is Citadel retributor armour, which comes in a standard acrylic or a spray paint. The spray is excellent if you don’t have an airbrush and have a lot of gold to paint.

I find the majority of Metallics fall into Silver first, and then Gold, but there are other metallic paints. Let’s looks at some of the more popular among them: Copper, Bronze and Brass.

Nickel Silver, Aluminum, Copper, Bronze and Brass

The Best Copper Metallic Paint for Miniatures

The Best Copper Metallic Paint for Miniatures is Vallejo Metal Color Copper. It is smooth and thin consistency. It has small pigments and excellent coverage. This paint works very well with a paint brush and can be used in an airbrush right out of the bottle.

Similar to gold metallics, copper can also come down to the exact shade you’re after. So while the Metal Color is by far my favorite in terms of coverage and consistency, there is only one shade. Therefore you may want more than one option.

Alternative Copper Metallic Paints:

Scale 75 Metal N’ Alchemy Pure Copper: This is a very beautiful bright copper. Depending on the look you are going for, it’s really good to have on your palette. They also have an Old Copper variant as a darker option.

Pro Acryl Copper: Is a solid brownish/orange copper. Great texture and coverage.

Citadel has a Balthazar Gold if you can still find it, it’s an older paint. It’s much more copper or bronze than gold. Worth looking at. Also look at Screaming Bell, which is another color I love but is hard to quantify. I tend to think of it as Brass, but maybe dark copper.

The Best Bronze Metallic Paint for Miniatures

The Best Bronze Metallic Paint for Miniatures is Pro Acryl Bronze and Light Bronze. Pro Acryl paints in general are excellent and these two are no exception. Very good coverage and thin enough to work with.

They are perfect for brush work, but need to be thinned if you want to use them though an airbrush.

Alternative Copper Metallic Paints

Here again I will mention cool colors like Screaming Bell and the Scalecolor Metal N Alchemy line. Citadel in general has a lot of great colors, but keep in mind they are on the thick side. They also have large pigments which look glittery on larger surfaces.

The Best Brass Metallic Paint for Miniatures

The best Brass Metallic paint for miniatures is Scalecolor paints Victorian Brass. Brass is a more yellow color typically, closer to a dull gold than anything. It can skew to a more red color if it has a lot of zinc in it but generally speaking it’s depicted as a dull yellow metallic.

You wont find a ton of Brass options in metallics. AMMO by MIG has a Brass option worth looking at if you’re stuck. MIG has a good reputation, I’ve seen a lot of people use them in the hobby. I’m not as familiar with their stuff but I would trust them to try out.

Other Metallic Color Paints for Miniatures and Models.

If you’re looking for a particular color you can’t seem to find, my advice is to check the Scalecolor Metal N’ Alchemy range of paints. For example in this set there are blue, green and purple shades of metallics. They also have Pink and other shades.

Colored Metallic Paints and How To Make Them

For metallics, you can use inks and other acrylics to shade the color of the base metallic paint. Brands like Pro Acryl, Greenstuffworld, and others sell metallic medium and pigments. ultimately though if you want to make your own colored metallic paint this is my suggestion:

How to make your own colored metallic paint:

  1. Find your base color metallic. For bright colors I would choose lighter colors like VMC White Aluminum or Scalecolor White Alchemy. For darker shades you can pick a darker base.
  2. Mix in your desired color. Ideally an ink would work best but you only need a very small amount to shade your paint. Inks are very powerful and have a lot of pigment, so start slow. Standard acrylics work fine as well.
  3. Use metallic medium or other acrylic thinning mediums to get the consistency you want.
  4. Keep track of the amounts of metallic paint, ink, and thinner you use so you can recreate it in the future.

Citadel, Vallejo Model and Game Color, Army Painter and other Metallic Acrylics

When it comes to standard acrylic paints, brands like Citadel, Vallejo Game and Model colors, Army Painter, Reaper and more have metallics. I would consider these baseline paints and perfectly good if that’s what you have and enjoy.

Here are some of the standout metallic standard acrylic paints:

Citadel Leadbelcher – Retributor Armour Gold Metallic – etc

Undercoating for Metallic Paints on Miniatures

I wanted to cover this because I see the topic crop up from time to time. When it comes to undercoating for metallics, I would say two things: It doesnt matter much. If you want a starting point, I would choose black.

Any of the paints I list here are going to give very good coverage. So the primer you use wont matter much assuming the paint is not translucent. If you are applying enough paint to fully cover the surface, the undercoat doesn’t effect the outcome.

If on the other hand you’re doing very thin layers that allow the light to penetrate, go with black or grey for darker finishes, and white or light grey for ligher colors.

What Is Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) in Miniature Painting?

NMM stands for non metallic metal. This is the technique of representing metallic colors with standard colors. For example yellows and browns are used in gold nmm. Whites and greys are used in silver nmm.

The techniques for NMM require a lot more skill and practice than just applying metallic paint. The learning curve is pretty steep. The benefits however can be dramatic. If you are really into painting miniatures, NMM is something you should at least try.

Any metallic paint range is limited in scope. Even the best metallic paint for miniatures wont give you highlights and shadow contrast intrinsically. You can’t get exactly what you want every time without mixing colors. Even the best metallic paints wont give you the results you can get with NMM.

NMM Sets, Colors, Technique

Again though, it’s challenging and time consuming. A good quick guide can be seen here:

I would also recommend watching this guide on a blue power sword. It’s the first one I tried and I found it to be achievable. It’s similar to NMM:

This was my result in trying it a few years back:

As for sets, I have the Vallejo Non Metallic Metal Paint set. This comes with a guide and color chart that can be helpful to work from.

Scale 75 has a good set as well for Gold and Copper specifically. Finally, we have a Silver NMM set from AK Interactive. All 3 of these sets will get you what you need if you’re looking to try NMM. Having said that, try using what you already have. Get some reps in and get the basic concepts down. Then move on to sets or specific colors.

Chipping and Scratches on Metallic Paints

When you are painting miniatures for a while you might want to try out battle damage. This is the technique of adding scratches, chips, and general wear and tear on the model. Things like scratches are common on items used in battle or adventuring.

Adding a scratch here and there is as simple as finding a ligher shade of the color of the iterm you’re working on. For example if you have a silver breastplate, you are looking to get a lighter silver to add scratches.

When doing scratches, what you’ll try to do is get a good paint brush with a sharp tip. Load it with your lighter color metallic paint. Use short, quick downward strokes to add very thin lines to represent your scratches.

When doing chipping, you want to start with a dark color. Something like Citadel’s Rhinox Hide which is a deep brown. Then, take a lighter color of your base coat. So for instance if your armor is silver, take a lighter silver.

Place your dark brown down first, and make a small chip where you think it should go. Then on either the top or bottom of that brown chip, place a thin outline in light silver. Simple as that.

Here is a quick video on chipping:

What Washes Go Well With Metallic Paints for miniatures?

If you’re new to washes, check out my article on it here. The short version is, they can dramatically improve your miniatures look in a short amount of time. If you are painting miniatures you should try washes at some point.

Washes go over the top of your base coat and add contrast and shadow to the finish. They are simply very thin acrylic paint, designed to flow into recesses. The recesses are where shadows fall and the wash gives that shadow color.

So, which washes go best on metallic paint. Let’s get into it:

Best Washes For Silver Metallic Paint: Nuln Oil, thinned Black Templar Contrast Paint or thinned Basilicanum Grey Contrast Paint.

Best Washes For Gold Metallic Paint: Agrax Earthshade wash, thinned Guilliman Flesh contrast (my favorite), any sepia wash or very thin ink.

Best Washes For Copper, Brass and Bronze Metallic Paint: I recommend thinned Guilliman Flesh contrast paint for these, although nuln oil works on almost anything if you want a worn down look.

Some More Information On Gold Metallic Paints

I wanted to add this section in case it helps someone who is looking for a very realistic gold color. Around a year ago, Vince Venturella did a video on what he feels is the most realistic gold color metallic paint. Vince has been painting miniatures for a long time and is an icon in the community.

His video is here:

What he ends up with is a blend. He mixes 3 drops of Vallejo Metal Color Gold, and 2 Drops of Vallejo Metal Color Copper. You can stop there, or add GreenStuffWorlds Antique Gold pigment. He adds 1/128th of a tsp of it, and one drop of flow aid.

The result is a very on point gold color. I have personally tried this and I can say it does look great. You can mix up a fair amount of it and keep it in a dropper bottle for future use.

That said, I find myself switching gold paint pretty frequently. Darker, brighter, more yellow, more pale… all different metallic hues. It depends on the models I’m working on.

For gold I tend to switch between colors in either the Scale 75 or Pro Acryl metallic paint range.

Expand Your Metallic Paint Experience

If you’ve only done standard acrylics for metallic paints, I urge you to try some of these other options. Painting miniatures is all about trying new things to get fun results. The best metallic paint range is often a matter of preference.

What I’ve given here is a list of very high quality, good coverage, reliable brands that many miniature painters use. I ran a few polls to ask what others liked and the same names crop up over and over.

My list is all from personal experience painting miniatures. I still remember the first time I tried some of them, it was certainly a game changer for me! I hope this helps someone to reach a new level of painting.

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