If you have a moment I would like to pick your brain on the popular painting style "line highlighting". Ron at From the Warp brought it to my attention recently with his "Back to Basics" series of articles. I guess I haven't really been paying much attention to it but after it was mentioned I noticed that its something that the staff at Games Workshop likes to use almost exclusively. Personally I am not that much of a fan. I have tired it on a few minis and I cannot seem to get the look to come out right. Even when I have painted the model the way that I intended it just doesn't seem to look "natural" for a lack of a better term. To me it appears that its a method to create a false contrast.
Looking to your models I noticed that you don't appear to use this technique ( and if you do please forgive me for my lack of observation ) and yet you still get a good look and can differentiate between colors/textures without issue. Could you possibly point out some of the pros and cons as to why you should/shouldn't use this technique and why you do/don't for your own personal painting style? Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you in advance,
For those that don't know, I suppose I should define what Line Highlighting is.
First off, here's a pic of my own IG commander conversion and his two advisors. To paint them I used a standard dark-to-light shading technique where I sort of generalize the light as coming from above the model.
And here's a pic from GW's online catalog showing two of the same models with loads of line highlighting. In particular, note the Officer of the Fleet. I deliberately copied the color scheme and many of the painting details, but left off the line highlighting.
So simply put, Line Highlighting is the technique of adding lines of high-contrast color shades to the raised surfaces and leading edges of models. This makes it look like your model is wrapped in vinyl.
Here's a Space Marine example:
First, we have my Emo-Wing test model alongside another Tallarn model. Both have been painted with dark-to-light shading.
And here's some GW Death Company in a similar scheme, but with Line Highlighting everywhere.
So What Do I Think Of It?
In a word: Overused.
There's nothing wrong with it as a technique, but it's not appropriate for every model, or even most of them. I can understand GW's desire to accentuate every detail for it's photographs, but this degree of overuse indicates that the painters have turned their brains off and are blindly adding lines to every surface without thinking.
Besides the lazy monotony of it, doing this to every detail destroys your ability to draw attention to certain features on the model. In my Sanguinary Guard model, I wanted the blood-colored bits to "pop" and draw attention to themselves. But on GW's models, those details just disappear into the sea of contrasting lines.
That said, there are some models for which this technique really adds something:
For the Dark Eldar I think the technique works very well, giving them an otherworldly feel and contrasting the technique's high-tech Tron-like look with the more archaic details of their models. This painter just blindly put lines everywhere. But If it were me, I'd not use Line Highlighting on the organic and metal bits to give the model more thematic contrast.
So to everyone: THINK as you paint! Have a reason for using a special-effect technique like Line Highlighting, or don't use it at all.