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Is shading and highlighting... a mistake?


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I haven't painted anything for several years and I probably won't find time to get back into it for several years more, but looking at a couple of anime/manga PVC figurines in various scales, it occurs to me that they always seem to look nicest when they are not shaded or highlighted - except perhaps for the eyes. And the same seems to be true for Western style figurines (movie figurines and so on). This got me thinking; is there an alternative to shading and highlighting? I don't think I've ever seen an expertly painted miniature that was not highlighted and shaded, but has anyone ever done it?

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In general, at small scales, shading and highlighting are stylistic exaggerations used to add depth and accentuate details.  One may, of course, paint figures to taste.  Solid color models will be brighter generally (having more prominent midtone area), but appear flat.  There's not enough to them size-wise to make use of natural light and shadow, so shading and highlighting serve to trick the eye.  As a rule, this is more effective than solid color - this is why it has such strong consensus in the miniature community. 

Edited by buglips*the*goblin
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A mistake? Ehrm, they make figures look better, especially when subjected to intense, flat lighting such as flash photography.

 

Shading and highlighting also enhance and make it easier to see details, particularly important when the scale is very small.

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Honestly, I think I need to see picture evidence of these non-shaded or highlighted figures that look nicer than shaded and highlighted ones. I mean just google image search "doll repaint" and there's hundreds of examples where much larger scale dolls have been repainted to be gorgeous and lifelike mostly by adding shading and highlighting.

There are different styles, sure, and different tastes as well, but I think I'd need more context to really know if I can argue or agree.

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If you think of yourself as a 1/1 scale figure, check yourself out under different lighting and try to figure out what colours you would use to replicate the effect.  My denim pants are, when laid flat in even lighting, mostly a uniform lightish blue.  When worn they form folds and creases that vary from very light bright spots to near-black shadow.  They thus become a whole spectrum of blue, a transition zone of some 20 shades.  At 56 times smaller a pure sample of the dye, applied without alteration, would be merely solid blue.  But it would not look like it does at full-size.  I have to artificially create the effect with color - perhaps not all 20 shades, but at least 3-5 of them.

 

PVC figures, being 1/6 to 1/10 in general, would still benefit from shading and highlighting.  You just use more shades and make transitions more subtle. 

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Honestly, I think I need to see picture evidence of these non-shaded or highlighted figures that look nicer than shaded and highlighted ones. I mean just google image search "doll repaint" and there's hundreds of examples where much larger scale dolls have been repainted to be gorgeous and lifelike mostly by adding shading and highlighting.

There are different styles, sure, and different tastes as well, but I think I'd need more context to really know if I can argue or agree.

 

I do repaints, enjoy it quite a bit, and there is a huge difference so I agree with Guindyloo.

 

The goal of a perfect highlight and shadow is that you don't realise there is highlights and shadows painted. There are there to enhance, not to be noticed.

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One other thing to remember with painting minatures/models, in regards to color shade and model size, is that the size of the model does affect our perception of the color due to the increase in the amount of light reflecting back off the larger surfaces on larger models.  (I think this explains why vehicles look brighter than individual figures when painted with the same shade of paint.)

In essence, the smaller the model, the darker the color is going to look.

This isn't as much of an issue with miniatures as it is with scale models, but there could be some effect going from a 15mm or 28mm figure to a 72mm figure if you're trying to hit the same shades of color.

 

If you use the same paint shade for a mini on an anime scale 1/8 figure, you're likely to get a skin shade that looks a bit too bright.
 

For an explanation of this from a scale modeling view, this article explains the concept pretty well.  

 

My 2 yen,

 

Akiosama

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If you look at a human at a distance where it appears the same size* as a miniature, especially a miniature in the middle of a gaming table, you will see very little detail. Unless, that is, the person is wearing stage makeup. Stage makeup is pretty much painting in highlights and shadows so that you can see the actor acting from the balcony seats. If you're OK with your figures being relatively undifferentiated blobs on the table, you'll find that you can finish painting much faster.  ^_^

 

* Technically, that would be "subtends the same angle", if you're of a mathematical bent.

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