Touches of Metallic Magic | Amarilys Henderson | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Metallic Magic Intro


    • 2.

      Kind of a Big Deal


    • 3.

      Metallic Inks


    • 4.

      Metallic Watercolors


    • 5.

      Bronze Powder


    • 6.

      Make Your Own


    • 7.

      Acrylic & Oil Pastel


    • 8.

      Digital Metallic


    • 9.

      Tips to Get Going


    • 10.

      Quick Recap


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About This Class

Elusive, expensive, but altogether magical--metallics add an intangible touch to your work. But how do we use them? How much is too much and why bother? You'll learn how several metallic mediums function and flourish in this 28 minute class!

These ten, short segments will help you:

  • gain an overview of how past and current creatives incorporate metallics into their work
  • acquire an understanding of how a variety of metallic mediums compare with each other
  • understand the strengths, weaknesses and uses for each material type
  • learn a quick way to add metallics to your digital work using Photoshop
  • confidence to add touches of metallic magic to your current (or past) work

You've got great work. Make it gorgeous, on-trend, magical.

Open your art drawers and watch the videos to find out how.

When you're ready, create your magical touches and show us in your project post. 

You will also get a full list of the materials used in this class in a PDF download! *Found on the right-hand side of the Your Project tab once enrolled.



Meet Your Teacher

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Amarilys Henderson

Watercolor Illustrator, Design Thinker

Top Teacher

Hello! I'm Amarilys. I process on paper and I problem-solve with keystrokes.

As a commercial illustrator, I've had the pleasure of bringing the dynamic vibrance of colorful watercolor strokes to everyday products. My work is licensed for greeting and Christmas cards, art prints, drawing books, and home decor items. My design background influences much of my recent work, revolving around typography and florals.

While my professional work in illustration is driven by trend, my personal work springs from my faith. Follow along on Instagram


Learn a variety of fun and on-trend techniques to improve your work!

See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Metallic Magic Intro: So what makes something magical? It's the story, the intrigue, the symbolism which alludes to some mystery. It's that unorthodox technique kind of a surprise. It's the exotic materials which tell our eye this is decadent, this is exotic, this is expensive. It's the allusion to spirituality and the feeling of wonder before peace. I'm going to walk you through several different mediums, several different methods, even how to incorporate metallic digitally. I want to show you a full gamut of a lot of varieties because I know that these materials aren't cheap and it can be intimidating to know exactly what to buy. I'll give you ideas and tips on how to incorporate these. Magic is much more than shimmer and gold but it's a good place to start. It's a great tool for you to have to incorporate into your work so that you can have those touches of magic. 2. Kind of a Big Deal: When I saw metallic starting to take off, I thought that it would be another fad that'll blow over, and it hasn't, and I don't think it will. I actually just started looking around my house, and lo and behold, some of the things that I've gotten to be a part of as an illustrator that metallic, it just kept coming out. I realized, this is like hello, this is just everywhere, and this is something that I need to pay attention to, and be able to be proficient in. A lot of the artists that I really admire use a lot of gold actually. One of my favorites is Gustav Climt, who used a lot of gold and a lot of different kinds of metallics. I saw it in one of my favorite modern artists, Makoto Fujimura in illuminated manuscripts, which is also something that's close to my heart. They have these metallic that they're bringing in, and it adds to the preciousness, the deity, the specialness, the awe of a piece. 3. Metallic Inks: Let's get into some of these metallic mediums. I chose to begin with inks. Inks are very popular. It's something that I had on hand and could get going on, and I suspect that maybe you do too. First, I started with some of the Speedball silver ink. It had a shimmer to it, but I wasn't terribly impressed. On the right side, you see the speed ball and now I'm going to try this Dr. PH. Martin's Iridescent nickel. A little hack that I like to use is, I like to use the caps of plastic bottles as my dish for putting these inks. I found that this brand of ink worked a lot better, that I was able to have more of an opaque look to it. If you're looking for something iridescent, then the Speedball would have made you just as happy. Something that's fun to do is to search your art archives and find something that didn't feel quite finished and add some sparkle to it. Now, I'm still using that nickel color. An easy way to see the shimmer is to actually do silhouette. I'm doing silhouettes of these leaves on another painting that I felt wasn't quite finished. That way you can really appreciate the dimensions. But how would these inks react right on top of a water color painting? For that, I brought out the gold. Now, these bottles bringing an eye dropper within them. They tend to get blocked, especially when it's a metallic paint. As you can see, I really enjoyed the gold. It's a little bit much, it's a little bit [inaudible]. But you know what when it dries, it actually doesn't look quite as yellow and it has that shimmer. I was using more silhouette so you could really appreciate the colors there. 4. Metallic Watercolors: Now, you know how I like watercolor, so I was excited to try out metallic watercolors. I knew this was going to be a little tricky because you have those micro-particles that are those golds or those shimmers in the paints. I knew that was going to bring a different dynamic. This is the Kuretake Gansai Tambi. I'm probably saying that totally wrong, set. The most popular set right now is actually Finetec. I did a little research and I found that the Finetec paints and these compare pretty much equally, and that these were half the price. Actually, the Finetec's were on reserve for two months. I would not be able to get them on back order. The first thing I did was I wet all those paints. You can mess around with them a little bit to activate them. But really, it's just going to take a little time of that water sitting on the paint to activate them more so than say, irregular watercolors. I went right to work. Now, I'm working on top of a watercolor painting that I did with fluid watercolors. You can see that the color underneath is blending with my metallic watercolor on top. That's something that's a strong suit of the inks that they will not blend with your watercolor paintings. In this painting, I used all of the metallics that were shown in the palette. You can appreciate subtle differences in the color. Now, we want to be using materials always for their strengths. I took this piece that I had finished the watercolor part of, and I added these details of gold and embellished what do these three kings might've looked. I think this is when I started to really fall in love with what these paints can do. Because even though for one, I am working on top of a watercolor piece, the paint wasn't totally activated, the paint underneath, so I didn't get these really pink golds in that color. They were done with mission watercolors, tube paints, so they weren't activated as much. I felt like these metallics really played their purpose in using them in this piece. Now, I got these really inexpensive paints online. They were $3, I believe, for the whole pallet. It was more out of curiosity than anything else to see how they would work. As I suspected, they have a lot of binders, so you don't feel as much of the color as much of the shimmer, but it is still there. I actually found a purpose for it that I'll talk about later on. But for now, I made these rings just because I had all the colors I thought I had, to absolutely try them all out. Now, you've watched me place water on each color in order to wake it up, activate it. That is necessary, but I also found that every time that I wanted to color, I dug in to get that color onto my brush in order for it to show up on my paper. They were fun, but I'm glad they're not my only iridescent paints. 5. Bronze Powder: Now comes the most decadent of the materials that I've used, and that would be loose metallics. These are grounded fine powder metallics. Don't be thrown off by the name. Bronze is not the color, it is actually what it is. It is actually a pale gold that I chose. This stuff is heavy. It's one or two pounds. It is just chock-full of these beautiful little flakes. I'm going to show you three things to mix these flakes with to put on your paintings. First off, just adding water. This was a beautiful way to show the powder in its raw form. It gives it a rugged feel, almost like we're throwing pixie dust around and making things magical. One thing to do when you're done with this piece is to spray it with fixative to make sure that those little flakes don't fall off. Now, I'm mixing the bronze with my watercolor paint. That is just a mission indigo blue that I have squirted there and I started mixing it along with these bronze flakes. What the watercolors have is gum arabic, which is actually the binder, what keeps watercolors together. You have the pigment and you have this gum arabic that makes it flow. What I'm doing is I'm basically using that from the paint and incorporating that into these powder metallic so that they work together and stick onto my painting. This is where I pretty much fell in love with this stuff. I swear you spend most of your time just fascinated with how these gold particles are just interacting with your paint. It's just so gorgeous, and it's hard to focus. Actually like painting or teaching honestly because this is just enthralling to look at. I'm really working on balance and trying to not balance out the gold interest points so much that it feels boring. You can't have so many points of interest there so evenly spaced out. That is just not interesting anymore; it's not dynamic, it's not pulling you in any direction. Yet you do want to provide those different points throughout your piece. Where you're guiding the eye to look around, is actually moving my paint itself around helps me to keep things balanced and to make these interesting aspects, these little touches of gold, they're becoming a lot of touches of gold, making them go around the piece and not just be concentrated in one little area. Now let's use real gum arabic. Gum arabic can be found in a bottle. You can purchase it at the store. They'll be next to the watercolors or next to other mediums that you mix with paint. I had some gum arabic left on this sheet. You will soon find out why. Sorry, this is a little out of order, but I wanted to show you how you can use that mixed with your metallic loose bronze powder to apply it to your painting. Here, I'm also using that sheet and getting creative, not wanting to waste a single bit of these flakes and adding some texture to the piece. A little hack that I found by using these pearlescent paints with the bronze is, hey, I know that paint will make this powder go on beautifully, thickly. Why use my expensive paints? This was a great new purpose for those inexpensive paints. 6. Make Your Own: Now we're going to take our loose bronze powder and actually make it our watercolor paint. What you'll need is the bronze powder, some gum arabic, a palette knife, and a container to put it all into. I mixed in just a little bit. I added more as I went along. You don't want it to be too chunky and you don't want it to be too creamy. You'll get a feel for it because you're going to know what consistency of kind of paint that you want. This is a great experience and a great way to have your gold paint ready on the go. It's high-end and tends to require extra care. I use this little bottle of pink soap it's about $3 for that tiny bottle, but you don't use much of it. Rub your brush in it, and then alternate with water and repeat until your brush is clean. It's fun to watch the particles repel from the soap too. 7. Acrylic & Oil Pastel: Now a very different beast are thicker mediums like acrylic paints or even oil pastels. I'm going to show you how I use those. They don't tend to be as fooling to the eye. I think because the medium that keeps those paints together is thick in plastic, and it just doesn't and glide the way that you would think naturally a metallic paint would be. As you can see, it's pretty goopy as I'm trying to flatten it out. I'm going to do this so do not try this at home because I'm afraid some of you might ruin some paintings. But just to show you a different way to use a metallic medium is as a border or as a design element rather than it's part of a rendering the piece that you're creating. I also like to add some shimmer, so that's another way to introduce metallics. I have some dabs on the side just to get a feel for the thickness of the paint, it has to either be applied very thickly. Or as you can see pretty soon here, I'm going to make it just an iridescent shimmer that goes throughout the piece. This is not for the faint of heart but it does leave a cool effect. Next, I'm going to try oil pastels. This is also not my forte, but I saw them at the store and I thought we've got to try at all. I have this set. I'm trying the copper just to add a little different touch, breakaway from the gold a little bit. It was fun to add some texture to the piece. 8. Digital Metallic: I felt pretty proud of myself of this title Photoshop metallic. I know that a lot of you are curious to see how these metallic paintings look on the scanner bed. So this is a photograph of the boots that you've seen before, and you can see some other detail here with the gold. Looks all right. I'm going to show you how it looks when it was scanned. So here it is, here's the gold. It looks pretty good, it did better on the scanner than I thought it would. This scan is at 600 DPI totally overkill, but that's how I like it. So you can see that it has variations of the gold. You see little bits of those particles coming through the shimmer, so it worked out pretty well. Let me show you the two women. Again, you see some of those particles here. I need to work on my overlap there, I stitch these together really quickly for you. Looking pretty good. Here are the butterflies, you'll see them later. These butterflies were done with ink. These you'll see later as well. It looks pretty good. I'm actually quite pleased with how these scanned. They aren't as stunning as they're in person, but for a scan of a metallic, I think it looked pretty great. The winner I would say would be the inks, the Dr Ph Martin's metallic ink. This is water color, just to compare, there all those are watercolor and here's the ink. So you get a bit of that gold foil feel, because it's such a thicker consistency, and it settles on the watercolor paper nicely in those bits of dimension, since it has more plastic to it in the makeup of those binders within the ink. That bit of dimension really helps for that iridescence to shine through on the scanner bed. Nonetheless, let's have some fun and take these butterflies. So with my Type Tool, you can do this with hand lettering. I'm doing it with Type just to do this really quickly for you. I am going to type something with a very bold font. Make it nice and big, and that's fine. Bring it on top. Now I'm going to rasterize this image, I'm going to right-click on it, rasterize the type so that now it actually is an image. With the arrow tool selected, if I just start twisting with it while holding down the Shift key, I'm able to see those transform boxes corner showing, and I'm making this a little bigger here at the bottom. Actually, I'm going to rotate the whole thing just so it makes a little more sense. There you go. I'm going to insert gold into this. So we're going to represent this gold metallic in a digital way. It's very simple, but what you will need is a photograph of a gold background. So I actually have some photographs that I've taken. The best route to take is to have your own photos at the ready so that no one comes after you saying that you're using their photograph there, their imagery without permission. Let's use this one. So I literally took a picture of a gold sheet here. I'm going to adjust the contrast and things like that later, but for now, I'm going to select all copy, and instead of pasting it right away, I'm going to select this layer by hitting Command and clicking on the layer, so that is all selected, and I'm going to Paste Special, Paste Into and my gold sheet appeared within those letters. I'm now going to use these transform controls that are already popping up, holding down my Shift key so that I'm not skewing my image in a weird way, and then play around with what looks best for this. You want to get your paper to show different dimensions of the gold, so it feels almost like it's bending and showing different light sources. Hit Okay when you're happy. Now I hide that layer because it was creating a weird outline, and it's not quite looking metallic. That's mostly because of my photograph. It's not terribly textured, bright color. So we're going to play with that now. Under Image, I'm going to adjust the brightness and contrast and see how that looks. It's looking pretty good. So there's that, I'm actually going to bring this layer back, but what I'm going to do, I'm going to double-click on it and change its color to something goldish. So yeah, what usually translates to goldish is a blue-brown tan, and go a little brighter, a macaroni and cheese golden look. Now I'm going to knot this back just a bit, so that this yellow color compensates for those really lighter areas and brings something forth. I'm feeling looking a little too yellow, I'm going to make it a little more orange. With different textures, different papers that you paste into your words, it's going to have a different effect and it's going to look better depending on the quality of your image, and the texture within it to add even more interest. But here's something to start with, just to give you a taste of how to use metallics digitally, really simply in Photoshop. 9. Tips to Get Going: I wanted to take on hand lettering separately because what's important in hand lettering is not necessarily what's important in painting. First we're going to look at the watercolor set that I was using. We're going to look at fluidity. I found this set to be very fluid, very great to work with. I chose to work on a black background in case any of you want to make greeting cards or are curious about how it would look on black. It was looking great. I really like how in some areas it got more opaque, in some areas are more shear, but I can still read the lettering very well. It's not quite as fluid as my usual watercolors, but it is a nice step in between, ink and watercolor painting as far as just the feel of it. Something that I like to do with my hand lettering is I like to spice up the different colors, add a little shift in them just because I can. Now I'm going to try the ink. Always be sure to mix those inks really well. Here with the nickel I was having some difficulty making it flow. It feels a little more plastic, compared to a black India ink, it was much more thick. A great way to get going is to grab some markers. If you are a little concerned about the consistency of the line and doing all those thick and thins, playing around with some of these gel metallic markers was fun. I went with more of a decorative approach and they show up pretty well. With making a longer stroke, I found that the ink wasn't coming out as fluidly as I would want it to. It worked out okay because I put that line right there where the A crosses horizontally with that line that actually got a little blob of the ink right in the middle. But all in all, I was pretty happy with these. Now, I did find the thicker, I went with the markers. The harder was to get that pigment out, to get that sheen, those real colors out and for it to show up on the black. But, my white to the rescue, this is just an average, white gel pen, and I just love how they always make things pop just a little bit at the end there. I'm going to use a couple more markers just to show you a full gamut of different varieties. I really encourage you to use lots of different ones, but my favorites so far were actually the gel pens more than markers or anything else. Those seem to be the most opaque. I'm going to have a list of the supplies. You can always check that if you're not necessarily taking notes and want to know exactly what I used in this class. Let's get real practical here on how to go about this. Let's say you have your wonderful metallic art supplies and you're wondering how to incorporate them. Here are some very practical suggestions. These are watercolor paintings that I did very loosely, very quickly. Oftentimes we'll add line work with black India ink or add details of white. Try replacing that with gold, especially if you use metallic ink. Making silhouettes with metallics like I said before, brings out a lot of that texture and dimensions so your eye actually can take in a lot of the beautiful intricacies of the metallic. Try it out on black. That is one of the greatest strong suits of metallics that you can actually work right on black. It's pretty exciting if you're used to working on watercolor like me. Another way that I showed you, just to recap, is using metallics as a design motif. If you don't quite feel comfortable incorporating it into your work, design motifs are a great way to do that. The most obvious way and fun way to use metallics is to accessorize. If you do fashion illustration or portraits, literally add your bling with your metallics. I like to use metallics also to add decadence, they lend themselves for that. I made up these fashion models with some of this metallic. Since the eye is going to be going into these metallic touches, these metallic motifs, I like to use them for whatever purpose, I really want the viewer to get out of this piece. Here I wanted to add emotion, add interest, whatever you really want to draw the eye to, that's where you want to place these metallic touches. 10. Quick Recap: Gold, silver, bronze, nickel. What am I missing? The whichever is your flavor. I hope that this class helped you take that little precious touch of magic and be able to glide it onto your pieces. Or at least feel confident to walk into an art store and say "I'm going to try this," and go for it. If they say that you did too much, bravo, you did it. Don't be afraid to add that push to really make your work pop out and be very current.