Gold leaf has a historic place in painting as it was often used in painting icons and illumiated manuscripts. The reflective quality flashes as you move your position to look at it. Though some people still use actual gold leaf most artists use a composite metal that looks gold. You can also purchase metal leaf in composite silver, real silver and copper. In my painting above I used copper leaf to create the text.
Using metal leaf creates a rich glow that is hard to simulate with metallic paint. This process can be used on 2-d and 3-d art pieces.
1. Apply adhesive to area that you want to apply metal leaf to. Adhesive is available in spray can, liquid form and you can find some pen type applicators on the market. Try to apply in a very thin coat of the adhesive to minimize brush-strokes otherwise they will show through the metal leaf.
2. Wait for adhesive to dry to a tacky state.
3. Apply metal leaf and smooth it down over the area where the adhesive has been applied.
4. Apply sealer.
Here's a video that shows how simple this process is ! :