There was some great discussion in my comments:
- Glen Murie has an excellent view for those who paint to make some money - you want your miniatures to look like everyone else's so that they're comparable. This way you "cater to the whims of the judges" making your models easier to judge in comparison to others. Winning competitions and getting high Cool Mini Or Not scores mean you can sell your minis for a lot more. Since newer concepts aren't received as well, the time investment might not be worth it. I have to agree with this view if you're the type after some monetary gain, although there's still potential in being the first to start selling new styles.
- Gotthammer points out that creating something new can be much more rewarding than the tried and true method and he's absolutely right.
- Gimnir, regarding your comment - I have a whole post spawned from it, so hang in there.
- Thor [Creative Twilight] makes the point that painting something different can appear a lot nicer than the tried and true method. (even when it's not) I've also got to agree with this, Thor uses the example of Ultramarines he plays against being painted better than his army, but that he gets more positive feedback on his because they're something others haven't seen.
I think this could be due to a couple reasons - the first being that different things stand out from the normal and look special. The second reason is that something you see a lot of ends up being held to a higher standard.
- deedoublejay makes a simple, but accurate observation about people copying what they see simply because they lack creativity or are afraid to fail in their attempts of creating something unique.
- Dave Thomas talks about how your painting style is influenced by what you see / are surrounded by. He's perfectly right that both your peers and the images that are marketed to you will influence what you think a miniature should look like. He expands to talk about how once you find a style, it's hard to paint in another you might not be as good at, and suggests copying minis you see, just to try these other styles.
Also, thanks to the magic of Internet, I can see where some more discussion takes place. The following are some of the things I'd like to point out:
- frogimus points out, while talking about his 9 year old daughter's painting, "it didn't matter what color the panther is supposed to be, her panther is purple." - Period - that's all that's important. (though for those interested in fluff, lets not forget we're talking about fantasy and alien worlds.) Later in the thread, he makes a great comment that many of us are painting Warhammer / 40k and other army-based miniatures; That this breeds preconceptions about what models should look like, (Chapter colours, ork skin, etc) and that armies are predisposed to being created all similar. (rank and file) He suggests we GW fans need to try painting models from other sculptors that don't have these rules.
- Undave (no relation) points out, like Glen Murie, that it would be difficult to judge models drastically different in style and it's a good point - you can't compare high quality oranges to apples.
- Also talking about this is shanerozzell, who suggests many people are just stuck on what the "ideal" form of painting is and points out that another factor that should be considered is that when looking at a single mini vs a whole army, quality and composition should be judged differently.
I have to agree with this, especially since I tend to lean to painting my Eldar to appear stronger when you're standing further away, making them look great on a battlefield, but a little rougher up close. Meanwhile, highly detailed models placed side-by-side and looked at from table-top distance appear rough, but excellent up close.
- BNSminiatures points out that there aren't any hard and fast rules on how we should paint, and he's completely right, finishing off that you should just have fun!
- Orki has a very unique look at style and painting. To paraphrase what he talks about, he basically says that to truly paint freely, you need to learn many styles and then paint in the moment with whatever works right then. He continues to suggest that if you find yourself a specific style that works for you, it's time to move on and start learning again. This will all allow you to paint from the heart, using aspects of all the styles you learn as "tools". I really love this outlook on painting because suggesting that we need to be constantly learning and not getting stuck with one view is something I'm a big fan of. He also suggests:
"there is no destination. It is an illusion that gives us something to aim for. The journey is where the subjective truth is found, infinitesimal and unlimited in it's scope and bounds. Whether we realise it or not, we have already 'arrived' and what little remains is just expansion within ourselves, within each moment."
- EldinTux also suggests that fluff-nazis might have problems with all of this. Should we care? No - but it's good to be aware of who might criticize your work.
- Ritual also talks here about how looking at other miniature designers / systems / etc and getting away from the Games Workshop standard is a good way of being opened to new styles of painting. (Though it should be mentioned that while GW is one of the biggest makers, anyone who concentrates on any one company's minis could fall into this trap)
- Snudge also has an interesting point that people copying others style isn't limited to accepted styles - that even one thing might suddenly get a lot of fame and get copied very quickly by many people.
- mbd suggests that how we paint might be influenced by where we are in the world - I'd think this is very possible since world region affects how we grow up, who we are, and how we do anything we do.
Now, not everyone got the point of the post, and I hope it's a smaller group. While some of my ideas may have been inspired out of nostalgia, I think reading the entirety of the post would have shown that I wasn't suggesting we should paint like we did 15 years ago or that stuff was better then, just that other styles are an option, variety is nice and that Demons have recognized drastically different methods of painting.
- There was one interesting point made here by evansmull, that as the quality of the models have improved and become more realistic, so does how we're trying to paint them. This could be quite true, though I'm not sure why people seem to be under the wrong impression that real has to equal dark. Many artists and graphic designers do this. Yes, shadows are important to creating realistic images, but there's no reason the shadows should envelope everything and destroy so much physical detail.
Overall, there's a couple views that seem to come up a number of times. It's an interesting point that for those people who paint competitively, they need to look like everyone else, just better, so it's easier to compare theirs to the models they're being judged against. Another theme that seems to keep coming up is people recognize that looking different gets stronger criticism - a lot of the feedback was from people saying "who cares what others think" but there are plenty of people more reserved who do care and aren't willing to take those chances.
I'll leave you with some of these gems that were suggested by readers and found on forums that referred my post. These are examples of minis that have their own style and still look good:
- This is an excellent example of shadow being used realistically, but highlights being strong enough to keep the model looking bright and perhaps more real for it.