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I'm currently trying to model these lines that are insetted into the mesh.

You probably won't subdivide the face completely to extrude it inwards?

It's not due to any normal or bump map, just modelling.

What's the best approach for this?

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ You can place additional plates on a base (flat) mesh model, I could say "like in real"... $\endgroup$ – lemon Apr 20 '18 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ This looks a little difficult if you already created the complete mesh? And also not practical around the rounded corners. $\endgroup$ – Thomasbbbbbbb Apr 20 '18 at 13:02
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From an already created mesh, you can relatively easily add plates using this modifiers stack:

enter image description here

  • Subdivision surface with "simple" option so that corner are not rounded but only in order to add more geometry so that the plates can bind

  • Shrinkwrap to the base model. The preferred options should be here mode: "project", cull faces: "none", direction: "negative" and the wanted offset from the plane surface

  • Solidify in order to have rims joining the plates to the base mesh

  • Edge split to sharpen the previous modifier

As you can see in the gif above, this allow to model the plate with few geometry. But the technics is not perfect: it is sometimes difficult to keep straight edges.

You can also pile several meshes with the same modifiers stack (as visible on the right part above).

PS: I'm aware that this won't solve all the needed work to obtain a finalized plane model...

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