Recently I read a post from The Back 40K blog about highlighting in miniature painting, this brings quite a few thoughts about highlighting. Thought I just share my point of view about highlighting.
I am sure most would know what is the definition of highlighting, right? Just to recap, in case some readers miss it. It is a technique of painting where you enhance the high point of a surface or edge with a light tone to bring out the contrast between the surface and the edge. This would make your miniature much more lively and alive.
If you cannot imagine, well, if you ever drop by the toy department in any mall, just take a look at those action figures, eg like Star Wars, GI Joe and such. They are usually either only in the plastic moulded colour, or if its painted, it is painted only with just a basic shade of base colour. This usually does not make the figure lively but rather flat and toy looking.
Highlighting definitely brings out the details and makes the miniature much more lively. In fact, if you observe in reality, when there are ample light in a environment or room, most objects would have a light or fine thin of highlight on the high surfaces or on the edges. Usually the highlights are not extreme, unless there is a lot of light or spotlight. Now, the next question, how much highlight?
How much? It all depends on how much contrast you would want to bring out in the texture, surface or edges. It more a question of your own personal preference or style you would like to achieve. Of course, if you have a lot of highlights and more fine line type of highlights, then your miniature might look very sharp and crisp. On the other hand, if you have subtle shades and subtle highlights, then your miniature might look kinda of warm, like the feel of reality.
My preference is, there must be highlights, but it should be kept to a, not too much, nor not little kind of amount, sort of in between. I guess most of my painting style belong to that category. If you think about it, the fun part of painting these miniature is the highlighting, or extreme highlighting. Because some of the miniatures’ pose and details are exaggerated, giving them a slight extreme highlights brings out the details and the fun of it. In fact, in product design, when the designer renders the products like car, handphone etc, they are all rendered with extreme highlights to wow the presentation.
I compared it before in an early post, between painting Tamiya war miniatures and warhammer or other fiction miniatures. The war miniature would feel much to closer to reality, with shades and subtle highlights only. In Warhammer or fiction miniatures, the highlights are slightly more, or extreme in some, which bring out the fantasy in the painting, slightly more than reality, isn’t it?
As for Games Workshop style, some of the line highlighting style make the miniature too line feel and crispy. Especially, when Game Workshop paints black Space Marine, they are edge highlight, make the Space Marine feels very line and crisp. I would prefer to subtle blend the black than edge the edges lightly. Black is always very challenging to paint. Have always wanted to paint a black Space Marine, Black Templar especially, maybe the next edition, haha.
Well, to sum it all, I guess in miniature painting, the best part is still highlighting, when its done, wow, to see the details having a good contrast is just so satisfying, right? What do you think?
FOR THE EMPEROR! I paint… haha