Sub-themes are just like any other theme, with one difference: They inherit the parent theme's resources. There are no limits on the chaining capabilities connecting sub-themes to their parents. A sub-theme can be a child of another sub-theme, and it can be branched and organized however you see fit. This is what gives sub-themes great potential.
Imagine starting with a base theme designed as wireframes, then applying and refining all the details from a sub-theme. Then, from the same wireframe, testing out alternate designs by branching out another sub-theme. Working on a multi-site installation but you need a cohesive look and feel? With sub-theming, a lot of the design resources can be shared. Site-specific changes can be set to a specific sub-theme, but any shared resources can be edited once to be applied across all the installations. With careful planning, the possibilities are endless.
Creating a sub-theme