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Painting Competition Comments and Discussion

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Hi all!

 

Like many people I got a little bummed out when I read Pandora's post (detailing complaints overheard at this year's Con) over on the "Overheard at ReaperCon" thread. Not because I regretted that she posted what she heard, but because of the sentiments expressed. I'd like to recap some of the things she quoted in her post, and address them as I can. Thanks for your patience! When I'm done, I would welcome any additional complaints or comments about the competition this year. We tried hard to improve, and would like to make it even better for next year! ::D:

 

Without further ado:

 

"Has anyone ever won a Sophie that wasn't a pro-painter?"

"Yeah, before the new system pros painted against each other."

"Wait, did anyone who wasn't a pro get a gold medal?"

"I think they should just do away with Sophie's, they're basically just a contest between the pros anyway."

 

I'd like to clarify this one because it not only hurts me, it hurts those who are NOT "pro-painters" who have worked hard to rise in the ranks and win gold medals and Sophies. People like Rhonda (Wren), Kyle Killingsworth, and this year's Nic Daniel weren't pros when they won their first Sophies. These are people who enjoy painting, who worked hard to become better at it, and who were as surprised as anyone when they won their first awards! Kyle was blown away when he won his Sophie and was told that he'd beaten a Golden-Demon-winning painter to do so. Nic Daniel is a programmer by day, Paint Club attendee on the weekends. In the last couple years he has gone from basic-level to winning his very first Sophie this ReaperCon--because he has busted his butt to get there. On the gold medal front, people like the historical painters who've been entering aren't "pros" by any stretch of the imagination--it's their hobby, it's what they spend their spare time on, just like a lot of the people on these boards. But many of them became great painters through striving to create top-level work.

 

Our staff painters aren't out to "take away" awards from anyone else. Most of the time, if they enter a model, it's a model that they have just finished painting for Reaper that they really like. Even when we made the Staff Painters compete in a separate category, awards in the regular competition were still taken by other top painters who just showed up to enter. So, you ask, why not just bar all pro-painters? Well, I say, how would you define pro-painter? People who paint for money? Are you saying that everyone who's really good shouldn't get to enter the regular competition? Come on, folks. That is not the point.

 

Reaper has put an awful lot of hard work and support behind this competition format. Think about it...medals, trophies, certificates, printed entry forms, and the staff to manage the whole thing--not only near to forty hours of my own time during the convention, but bringing temporary staff in to be my invaluable helpers. Not to mention the competition room itself, outfitted specifically for the event, with the shelving and security cameras...and the person on-duty to make sure no one walks off with a model. AND the cash prizes for Best in Show, even for non-Reaper models!

 

We do the painting competition for two reasons. One, because we try to be a force in support of the miniature-painting hobby, and the competition (especially with the new medal/exhibition format) encourages that hobby. But two, we do it because it is great publicity for ReaperCon and for Reaper. It draws attention to our awesome little convention and hopefully encourages people to show up for it. And what do many people like to look at most? The really awesome painted models with super display bases that make your brain feel like imploding from the "how did they DO that??? factor.

 

So if you feel like you aren't anywhere near to being able to take a Sophie...take the classes at the Con, and apply what you learn in them! The only way to improve is to start new projects incorporating what you have learned, and to learn from each model you paint. Approach people you respect for honest feedback, and listen to what they say even if you don't agree with it at first. Study the winners--try to figure out how they get the effects they do. And NEVER give up. NEVER say that you just can't do that. It's not true. But you have to care enough about it to make it happen--it's not just something you can stumble into. If it was, people wouldn't care about it so much. ::):

 

Okay, next one:

 

"All this new system is is just a way to try and make the Sophie as prestigious as the Golden Demon."

 

Prestige, absolutely, I would love to see the Sophie become a truly prestigious award. But other than that, our new system is as different from GD as you can get. Last I checked, Games Workshop was NOT about rewarding great painting and encouraging up-and-coming artists--it was about politics and winning. It was not about allowing ANY model from ANY manufacturer in its competition--GW likes to pretend that there aren't any other miniatures companies! You won't find those politics at ReaperCon. This year, we used different judging teams for all three events. Five judges for the medals; two different judges for the Reaper Sophies; and then all of you judging the Best In Shows. ::): That's as far as you can get from politics! If you notice that some models won in all three sections of the competition, that would most likely be because they were fantastic--and everyone rewarded the painters for a great job. ::): Isn't that how it should be?

 

Next:

 

"Competing against yourself? You can't be. There has to be a set number of medals."

"No, they just based on the job, and they could give out 100 gold medals if every piece entered was worthy of it."

"They aren't printing medals back there; no way do they have an unset amount."

"What does it matter, you got a certificate anyway, not a medal. They do have printers."

 

Okay, so this is pretty funny, but I would like to assure you that we do not have a set number of medals. We do have a set number already prepared, and we always overshoot and have medals left over. But if for some reason we award more gold medals than we made, we do know far enough in advance to prepare more on Saturday before the ceremony. ::):

 

Okay, here's the last bit that Pandora brought up that I thought I would clarify:

 

"I heard everything from 54's should have their own category as they are easier to paint, to Ordinance should be done away with because it is not popular, to armies should be brought back (or possibly a smaller war-band (5 minis)."

 

Whoever told anyone that 54's are easier to paint needs to try to paint one. Ever tried to get smooth blends on a cloak? Remember how annoying it was to try to do it on that larger, smooth surface? Well 54mm models are FULL of larger surfaces. Some techniques are easier on a 54mm--but others are harder.

 

Ordnance is a weak category, but we want to keep it because it is a part of the classic Open System format that we are using. What we do need to do is to actively encourage people to paint tanks, jetbikes, trebuchets, war golems--whatever!--for next year so it gets a good showing like it did last year. ::):

 

Now, that said, we are considering not awarding Sophies in Ordnance (because Reaper does not make many models that fit there), or switching the Sophie categories around to be different from the actual competition categories. But that is something that will need a lot of discussion, and we'll let you guys know what's going on once we have it ironed out. ::):

 

Finally, the army/unit discussion. Guys, there is no problem with entering your armies or units in the competition. In fact, since the competition judging is on Friday night and the tournament on Saturday, it should work just fine next year. This year, we weren't sure about allowing early pick-up Saturday morning for Warlord players, because it means that people can't see their models on display. But I think I've come up with a solution--a bright card that we'll place where your army or unit was on the shelf, saying, "This entry is competing in the WARLORD TOURNAMENT! Please stop by and see us play!" or something of the sort. That way more attention is drawn to the tournament as well. ::):

 

Okay, I'm done...comments, criticisms, requests, and elucidations welcome. ::):

 

--Anne ::D:

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Anne made very good points!

 

I have been disheartened to hear that some people think that the competition isn't fair or doesn't mean as much.

 

As to the question of pro-painter that is very hard to define. This is my first competition where I've won a gold medal or best in show. I've worked hard and I paint every day. Before I lost my job though I wasn't a full time painter. I worked an office job and painted when I could. Being able to make a little money doing something I loved was a bonus. Now it is my job and I do paint all the time but I don't paint display models all the time either. Most of my commissions and sales are doing painting tabletop minis which many people on this board can do.

 

If we were to define a pro-painter as someone who has received compensation for any mini they've ever painted that would bar a good chunk of people from being able to compete and that isn't fair either. Just because someone has sold a mini they've painted doesn't mean they are the best painter who ever existed. Games Day doesn't have a rule against this so why should Reaper? It would nearly impossible to police anyway.

 

Bottom line is that if you want a medal you have to bust tail to improve and get yourself to a high enough standard to do so. I don't think Reaper should change a thing about their competition and I know a lot of other painters feel that way.

 

Having competed in Games Day now I can say that what Anne says is true. It feels more about politics and painters are constrained a lot more. Reaper's competition allows any model to be entered which, for me at least, allows for more creative ideas.

 

To Anne and Reaper--y'all have a great thing going.

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"They aren't printing medals back there; no way do they have an unset amount."

 

That's un-possible. You'd have to have a casting company on call and you'd have to have a special run at short notice....

 

What?

 

rolleyes.gif

 

"I heard everything from 54's should have their own category as they are easier to paint, to Ordinance should be done away with because it is not popular, to armies should be brought back (or possibly a smaller war-band (5 minis)."

 

Whoever told anyone that 54's are easier to paint needs to try to paint one. Ever tried to get smooth blends on a cloak? Remember how annoying it was to try to do it on that larger, smooth surface? Well 54mm models are FULL of larger surfaces. Some techniques are easier on a 54mm--but others are harder.

 

I've seen more 25-35mm scale figures win both medals and trophies in Denver conventions than I've seen large-scale figures win. Large-scale figures are really impressive from two feet, so if you aren't judging, they tend to leap out at you. When you start examining figures closely for errors and flaws, there's a lot more space for faults on a bigger figure and the faults are easier to see. Near-perfection is easier to attain on a smaller figure.

 

That said, 15mm and smaller figures don't win competitions anywhere but in Ordnance and unit categories. I've begun to think that there really is a difference in the way you have to paint different scales that might warrant separate judging standards, even if not separate competitions.

 

Ordnance is a weak category, but we want to keep it because it is a part of the classic Open System format that we are using. What we do need to do is to actively encourage people to paint tanks, jetbikes, trebuchets, war golems--whatever!--for next year so it gets a good showing like it did last year. smile.gif

 

Hardware really is enough different to warrant a separate category, I think. Weathering is tricky, camouflage on flat surfaces is not much like painting organic shapes, and some people who are brilliant at those truly have no interest or skill at painting people.

 

Finally, the army/unit discussion. Guys, there is no problem with entering your armies or units in the competition.

 

From my experience, units have much the same problems as large figures in competition. They're impressive, especially at a distance, but it's pretty easy to find flaws when you have so many details that you're looking at. (This might be an argument not to start by looking for flaws, but that's kind of an ingrained mindset in competition judges at high-end competitions.)

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Here's my take on the whole "pro-painter" deal.

One does not have to win competitions or awards to be a "pro-painter". Neither is one that happens to sell mini's that they have painted on occasion.

What winning competitions does is place a painter into the catagory of "expert". Now that doesn't mean that competing in small FLGS contests against a

group of painters that in no way can measure up to the level the Haley's, Jeremie's and Marike's makes you an expert.

Now some are both "pro-painter" and "expert" due to the fact that they can both paint to a level that far exceeds other painters and do so to provide a

source of consistant income for themselves. While more still are what should be considered "pro-painter" but not "expert" because they can make decent money

selling their work.

I guess that what it boils down to for me is that I would much rather be known as an "expert" painter( if I could paint to a level that rivals the above mentioned greats) than

a "pro-painter".

/rant off

lol

 

 

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From my experience, units have much the same problems as large figures in competition. They're impressive, especially at a distance, but it's pretty easy to find flaws when you have so many details that you're looking at. (This might be an argument not to start by looking for flaws, but that's kind of an ingrained mindset in competition judges at high-end competitions.)

 

We try not to begin by looking for flaws in the Open System judging. Shep Paine (who created the system, of course) and Doug Cohen were very explicit in explaining to myself and others about the change of mindset in the judging. You place the models on a shelf in your mind: gold level, silver, bronze, certificate, by looking at what is well-done with the model. For myself, flaws come into play when dealing with a model on the verge of one rating or another, though the rule is to always give the painter the benefit of the doubt where possible. The point behind the Open System is to reward, not to censor. We do look at both well-done sections and flaws when an entry might do better in another category, in order to decide whether to re-place it. That said, yes, I agree that in our end of the mini-painting competition world, it is hard to get out of the "look for flaws" mindset because we've been judging in that manner for so long. ::):

 

So I guess the best way to look at Open System would be, "What has this painter executed best? How does their best measure up to the standards set by gold, silver, bronze, certificate--is their best solid, but could they have done better? Or can we not imagine a better example of their work than this?"

 

Often when I try to explain how we score I give a scale like I did in another thread: Gold is a fantastic model with no flaws or small flaws, for example. I explain it that way because it's easier to describe, but it's not really the way Shep describes how you really want to judge with the Open System.

 

Meg: Great points re: Pro Painters and competitions. ::): I haven't done Golden Demons for years but I still remember some of the things I liked least about the format--models with non-metallic metals not getting a Demon because the judge hated NMM, a model that was only a grunt, but better-painted than most others, not getting a Demon because it was not a high-profile leader model, two excellent versions of a single model being done and one of them being excluded from the top three because "we can't have more than one of a given model win"...etc.

 

It was pointed out to me that my original post might have been seen as bashing GW. Just to be clear, I worked for Games Workshop out in their HQ in Maryland and hung out with the sales team employees many years back. What I say is pretty realistic and indicative of what I experienced over the course of my employment and attending several GD competitions. There are exceptions, of course--there always are. ::):

 

More comments, more! Come on, I know you're all bored at work right now. :;):

 

--Anne ::D:

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Anne, thank you for addressing this point-by-point. Personally, I really, really like the new system. I won two bronze Sophies under the old system. I'm really proud of them, but they were both in the Warlord Large category, which usually only had a dozen or so entries. With the new system, I've won two silvers and a bronze, and the best part is I don't have to wonder how close I was to getting bronze/silver/gold. If the piece is worthy, it takes a medal. I like that.

 

Meg made a really good point about defining "pro-painter". I've sold a few of my minis for some pretty respectable cha-ching, yet I've never won a gold (next year :poke: ). As Meg stated, how could Reaper possibly police such a policy?

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Here's my take on the whole "pro-painter" deal.

One does not have to win competitions or awards to be a "pro-painter". Neither is one that happens to sell mini's that they have painted on occasion.

What winning competitions does is place a painter into the catagory of "expert". Now that doesn't mean that competing in small FLGS contests against a

group of painters that in no way can measure up to the level the Haley's, Jeremie's and Marike's makes you an expert.

Now some are both "pro-painter" and "expert" due to the fact that they can both paint to a level that far exceeds other painters and do so to provide a

source of consistant income for themselves. While more still are what should be considered "pro-painter" but not "expert" because they can make decent money

selling their work.

I guess that what it boils down to for me is that I would much rather be known as an "expert" painter( if I could paint to a level that rivals the above mentioned greats) than

a "pro-painter".

/rant off

lol

 

I'd agree that there is a distinction between the two designations, and that it is often confused. ::): But--does either deserve to be barred from entering a painting competition? Why or why not? I don't think that anyone should be barred, personally.

 

One of the points of debate in these things is often the discussion of a "Novice" category for people who are new or not as skilled yet. I'll tell you that the MMSI Chicago show does provide this in their Open System show--BUT as I recall they only award Certificates for the Novice awards. If you wish to take a medal or a special award, you've got to--hmmm, how did Meg put it?--"bust tail to improve"? :;):

 

--Anne ::D:

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I mean, I feel this way about the clique of painters at Games Day. It seems like the same people consistently win and you have to try to read the judges minds to even have a chance at winning anything. Reaper is more about the technical side of painting--they examine the execution of your painting technique and the difficulty of the model, any freehand or conversion you've attempted, etc. They actually judge the painting though! Whereas at Games Day the judges are more subjective. Do they like wood elves? no, then you aren't going to win even if it is a great paint job. (Just an example, not saying they don't like wood elves).

 

By the way I am not GW bashing either, this is just my experience of having competed in Games Day over the past two years. Also a lot of the comparisons by others have been Reaper Con vs. Games Day.

 

Personally, it seems to me that those who are complaining might be jealous? Or may think that they will never have a shot? If that's the case then their right, they won't ever have a shot. You have to believe in yourself and have the drive to want to get better in order to do so.

 

Let's just say, for the sake of argument, we were going to ban "pro-painters" from the competition. How would this be defined really? How regularly does someone need to paint and sell their minis in order to be considered pro? If these people are banned should not the Dereks, Alis, Rhondas, Jens, Marikes, etc of the world also be banned? They have more more titles to their names and they sometimes sell their work. But what if they only sell one model per month? Is that regular enough to say they are a "pro-painter"? What if someone has a full time job and just chucks minis on ebay because they can and they do so regularly. Does this make them a pro-painter?

 

According to Angorak's distinction a pro-painter is someone who lives off of what they make by painting. Would I be included in this? Most of my income is from student loans and renting out the 2 extra bedrooms in my house. Painting makes up the rest. I don't make a profit on anything either. I make just enough to cover all of my expenses and even then it's extremely tough!

 

My point being, we don't know what each individual's situation is and we won't ever know. How a competition even try to start policing a rule like this? Plus putting a ban on certain people for a competition is a death sentence for the competition and potentially for a con. It is just not practical nor is it reasonable, either. In fact I think it's just plain silly!

 

I think as Reaper continues the competition with the Open format and as it grows we will see less of these discussions. People will still have their comments to make but that goes with the territory for ANY competition, not just the one at Reaper Con. How long has Games Day been around and people still complain about the way Golden Demon is judged. So, I hope Reaper Peeps don't take any of those complaints to heart.

 

I would be very bummed out if the competition changed dramatically.

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If I were to ever enter anything into the painting competition I would have no expectation of winning the category. However, I would have a very good idea of where I "rank" as a painter based on technical skills. That would be enough, along with some input on why my piece was ranked the way it was, on ways to improve my painting to get to the next level.

 

I really only do compete with myself when it comes to how I paint. I want to improve to my own satisfaction. That's where I see the Open System really being valuable since you don't have to stress about being compared to other painters for those awards. Everything is strictly on your own merit and how well you can paint. Adding this to the competition has actually made me consider entering at some point, which was never something I would have done before.

 

Overall I've heard really great things about the painting contest, how it's judged and how the awards are decided. It encourages people like me to want to stretch myself and see just what I can do.

 

Having the judging before the tournament also encourages making really kick-butt units to field. And since the armies are made up of units it means that over the years people can make some really nice armies in stages.

 

I think the Reaper peeps deserve a heck of a lot of praise for all the work they do to make the competition as impressive as it is.

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Unfortunately, I haven't been able to attend ReaperCon since 2007, before the switch to the new format, but I definitely want to come back and try it out. I was gonna try it out at the Denver cons this year, before my wife's unexpected pregnancy threw a wrench in the works.

 

One thought I have on the Sophies - RCon hasn't been running long enough yet for this to be a huge issue, but it's starting to surface. Reaper may want to consider some sort of limit on the number of Sophies a single painter can win over the years. There are a lot of different methods to place limits on this - can only win alternating years, lifetime limit, etc - but in the end, people need to feel they have a chance instead of the Sophie's seemingly being won by the same people year after year*. Think about it - if John Doe wins 2-3 Sophies at every RCon for the next 10 years, people are going to be tired of competing against John Doe and probably stop entering.

 

I'm not knocking the expert painters, they still deserve recognition, but can we agree that there is a point beyond which additional Sophies would simply be stroking their egos, rather than recognizing their talent? I can't say what that point is, but as RCon goes on, do we really need to see people with more than X number of Sophies? Not sure what number to define X as - 30, 20, 10?

 

 

 

----

 

*I say seemingly because the human memory is a funny thing. Jane Doe might only win a couple of Sophies, but if she happens to be the winner whenever Bob Smith enters, Bob may feel that "Jane always wins". Without a limit, Bob may give into despair; with a limit, Bob knows that if Jane hasn't hit it yet, at least he has a chance after she does.

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Here's my take on the whole "pro-painter" deal.

One does not have to win competitions or awards to be a "pro-painter". Neither is one that happens to sell mini's that they have painted on occasion.

What winning competitions does is place a painter into the catagory of "expert". Now that doesn't mean that competing in small FLGS contests against a

group of painters that in no way can measure up to the level the Haley's, Jeremie's and Marike's makes you an expert.

Now some are both "pro-painter" and "expert" due to the fact that they can both paint to a level that far exceeds other painters and do so to provide a

source of consistant income for themselves. While more still are what should be considered "pro-painter" but not "expert" because they can make decent money

selling their work.

I guess that what it boils down to for me is that I would much rather be known as an "expert" painter( if I could paint to a level that rivals the above mentioned greats) than

a "pro-painter".

/rant off

lol

 

I'd agree that there is a distinction between the two designations, and that it is often confused. smile.gif But--does either deserve to be barred from entering a painting competition? Why or why not? I don't think that anyone should be barred, personally.

 

One of the points of debate in these things is often the discussion of a "Novice" category for people who are new or not as skilled yet. I'll tell you that the MMSI Chicago show does provide this in their Open System show--BUT as I recall they only award Certificates for the Novice awards. If you wish to take a medal or a special award, you've got to--hmmm, how did Meg put it?--"bust tail to improve"? ik_wink.gif

 

--Anne biggrin.gif

 

I believe my post was merely to address the designation and not to imply that anyone be barred from competition. I for one love to see a competition that is flooded with entries and I like seeing someone that strives to push their level to improve.

 

You make a valid point kristof65...I've seen it happen at least in my FLGS. Some are discouraged in seeing one person win the majority of the time and simply do not enter and that is sad.

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I love the Open system, as has been pointed out it is an excellent means to measure your current skill.

 

I feel pro or expert painters should be allowed- someone has to set the bar that I am aiming for ::):

 

Now, if I were to argue the point, what I would consider a pro is someone like an 'Eavy Metal painter- someone who does it for a living. I just cannot match the sheer amount of painting they do in a week. More time painting = more practice. But in reality there is no reason why a hobbyist can't get as good as a pro and become an expert.

 

I also have to agree with Kristof65 on limits - sort of... I would hate to limit anyone, but I also agree with his logic. Take that as you will.

 

Regards,

-wg-

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Okay, here goes...

 

I don't know how to not make this first part sound egotistical so please believe me when I say it's not.

 

I have always considered myself a good painter, but I knew there were others better (thanks to CMON) so I never made a big fuss over it. My friends praised my paintjobs and I humbly accepted them, but I always wondered where exactly I stood.

 

With that said, I've never taken any classes or formal instruction. (Other than one paint club, Thanks Anne and especially John for the intro to NMM)

 

So to comment on the quoted concerns,

 

I would not have entered a miniature if not for the Gold/Silver/Bronze/Cert awards. I mean, I knew I'm not on that level if it were to have been a 1st, 2nd, 3rd competition. The reason I entered was because it was my opportunity to have a group of pro painters tell me where I'm at. When they rated me at Bronze, I was on cloud nine. Because I saw all the others that also rated bronze, and it was an honor to be among them.

 

Furthering that, for me, I am now challenged to go for Silver in the 2011 ReaperCon. Then on to Gold. Then to Sophie (just like Nic). This means more paint club for me and my friends, and challenging myself. It means looking at Anne's minis and painting fur as she does, looking at John's NMM and painting like that, how Nic does scales blows my mind, and figuring out how that rascal Derek does those amazing eyes. This is not to say, "Oh you have to be like the staff painters to win." Throughout history great artists have learned and mimiced other great artists. It's part of the craft.

 

As for ordinance, please leave it as a full category. They are working on a CAV remake and, as I understand, Reaper is still doing the minis. Plus, if we can twist Gus' arm (tough because he's a escrima grand poobah and will beat you worse than a jamacan stickfighter) maybe Warlord will get machines of war soon. I see no reason why a Crusader Trebuchet or a Nefsokar Chariot would not fit this category. I'll be entering a CAV next year, unless something changes.

 

I'm sorry that some people were not completely satisfied with their perception of the event outcome, but mine was nothing but joy. Not only was I thrilled at my award, but it inspired me to improve (which I'll bet is Anne's evil plan as it draws me to paint club).

 

The only thing that was slightly confussing for me (not having entered before), was the difference in "Painters" and "Open" categories. I had the idea that "Painters" would be single models on standard bases (standard bases meaning not on a stand or diorama), and "Open" would be where all the built up bases and such would be. None-the-less, my entry was based on finding out how others judged my painting so I entered the correct category as "painters" was stated to be judged mostly on painting.

 

Again, thanks to all who made it possible and sorry to those who feel wronged.

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but what would you limit? And wouldn't that in and of itself be discouraging to people who would otherwise want to enter? I mean I've already got three medals but no Sophie Trophies. So if we limit the medals then we also limit the number of people who CAN enter and in turn a lot of people won't want to enter. I don't think this would be a good move either. I know that if Reaper ever implemented something like this I would stop entering.

 

Gen Con and Games Day don't have caps for how many wins you can have. Seeing the same people win year after year is part and parcel of competing though. It happens and if you want to stop it from happening then get better at painting. What happens when all of the great painters are banned because they've won 10 medals and the people who were winning certificates before are the only ones left. This degrades the competition then because those people at the certificate level aren't as good as those who were winning medals.

 

 

Keep in mind with this type of competition that awards to not HAVE to be given. If the painting isn't up to snuff an award isn't given. So if we got rid of all the good painters with 10 or 20 or 30 medals and there weren't any entries worthy of a bronze, silver or gold, then those medals would not be awarded. Simple.

 

I do believe this would be a sure fire way to kill any competition and quickly. New blood can always make a way into a competition. I've been painting for just over 5 years and yet I've managed to break into the competition scene.

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Hey Anne,

 

Sorry you got bummed out reading Pandora's post, but perhaps you should not take it personally (which from the tone of your post you are) and listen to the critics. If there are that many people being overhead with complaints...then your contest does not have the right format for the venue you are using. Please do step back from the emotion while you read this post.

 

As one of the people who have problems with the contest, I will address your post with my viewpoint. It won't be popular on these boards, as there is a hardcore Reaper following here (it is Reapers board so that's obvious).

""Has anyone ever won a Sophie that wasn't a pro-painter?"

"Yeah, before the new system pros painted against each other."

"Wait, did anyone who wasn't a pro get a gold medal?"

"I think they should just do away with Sophie's, they're basically just a contest between the pros anyway."

 

 

These are all valid points. Anyone who won a Sophie who wasn't a "pro-painter" under the old system doesn't apply here and that is what folks are picking up on. However, focusing in on the "Pro-Painter" issue is deflecting and/or masking the real problems seen with this year's contest, and by what you have said, will be seen again next year.

 

I went in with a preconceived notion of the contest based on the observation of the winners of last year and the format and sadly, I was proven correct in what I thought. The ReaperCon contest is style and group based. If you don't paint in the same style or part of the groups/clubs that do, then this really isn't a competition where other styles get recognized to the same degree. People are picking up on this. Before you write me off as sour grapes, I knew what I was entering and almost put display only on my pieces for several reasons. 1). I don't paint in the style you folks who are judging (and I'll have stuff to say on that in a few) . 2). All my entries were speed paints, just for fun and to clear off my painting desk and the cobwebs off my brushes. On that note there were a lot of darn good entries in other styles that didn't get anywhere near what they deserved if they had been judged to a standard of their style or other styles than the one style being judged.

 

I don't think that the statement "Our staff painters aren't out to "take away" awards from anyone else." is a valid or realistic comment. This is a small con sponsored by one manufacturer. OF COURSE painters who are commissioned or work for reaper who enter aren't going to be looked at as fair by the rest of the con goers, because it isn't. Nor will paint jobs done for Reaper entered into Reapercon's contest be looked at as fair when they win trophies because it isn't fair to the con-goers. Reapercon = limited number of trophies = Reaper contract/hired painters entering = Reaper commissioned or to be owned paint jobs entered/ = those winning trophies = some of the trophy winners also judging.... It's a no brainer why folks don't think this is fair. Compounded by the "open system" which with the above taken into effect, does come off as a way to "feel better" about awarding the trophies while throwing others a bone. No one want's to play if they have no shot at winning anything but a token prize, no matter how good. That is what people are complaining about there. There will always be people who complain about pros entering any contest but if its FAIR, which is the key word here, then those complaints will go down drastically, especially if you cut out the unfair parts mentioned above.

 

If you REALLY want to make it fair, give the staff people (Reapers) and the folks they contract for commissions their own category, period AND get INDEPENDENT JUDGES!!!! - Ones that can judge in several styles, not just one. I say independent because contestants shouldn't be judging, period. Nor should a small group of individuals with a vested interest such as instructors at ReaperCon be allowed to do so. For gods sake, I heard several of the judges talking about your top picks being already decided for the trophies BEFORE the entry period was even closed!!! Bad enough for that crap to be done at all, but out in the open in the con just takes the cake. That blatant, I wouldn't be surprised if other people there overheard similar things throughout the con as well. So again, the trying to be fair to all, not taking away from others, etc doesn't fly.

 

"I don't think that anyone should be barred, personally."

 

This is why you are hearing about most of this from things overheard. People, me including, don't think you folks will care (for a variety of other reasons I'm not going into for the same reason) or look at why people are upset and various other reasons which makes the point of bothering to say anything pretty freaking mute. If that's the reasoning that holds up throughout all of the valid complaints people are voicing, I AM voicing because frankly I find the "but you just don't understand", "you are just whining". "We hear your complaints but don't think they are valid because we worked so hard on this" crap to be getting old.

 

"Reaper has put an awful lot of hard work and support behind this competition format. Think about it...medals, trophies, certificates, printed entry forms, and the staff to manage the whole thing--not only near to forty hours of my own time during the convention, but bringing temporary staff in to be my invaluable helpers. Not to mention the competition room itself, outfitted specifically for the event, with the shelving and security cameras...and the person on-duty to make sure no one walks off with a model. AND the cash prizes for Best in Show, even for non-Reaper models!"

 

Not to sound too callous here, but so? I love that Reaper has a paint contest, I just wish it was run better and fairer. Your time doesn't matter. 40 hours? I've done easily double that on some of Nathan's contests and FAR more than that when I've co-run live events with 100-1,000+ people. As a Reaper employee your time doesn't really, and shouldn't, factor into peoples thoughts about the end result, any more than spending 100 hours on a figure should mean you get instant kudos, fame and riches. Time does not equal quality, nor is it a good emotional blackmailing point for anyone with valid complaints who doesn't agree with how the contest ended up. If someone produces a bad product they don't get off from the consequences or critic of the consumer just because they devoted so much time to it. Same principal here.

"because it is great publicity for ReaperCon and for Reaper."

 

This is exactly why you should be taking all these complaints seriously. There are always more people who think the same than ever bother to come forward. And there's both good and bad publicity, unless you are of the school that all publicity is good.

 

I know it affects Reapers bottom line, even if it's just a little bit, as I personally heard one comment on Sunday saying they weren't going to buy the miniatures they had planned on because they didn't like how the contest was done the night before.

 

"So if you feel like you aren't anywhere near to being able to take a Sophie...take the classes at the Con, and apply what you learn in them! The only way to improve is to start new projects incorporating what you have learned, and to learn from each model you paint. Approach people you respect for honest feedback, and listen to what they say even if you don't agree with it at first. Study the winners--try to figure out how they get the effects they do. And NEVER give up. NEVER say that you just can't do that. It's not true. But you have to care enough about it to make it happen--it's not just something you can stumble into. If it was, people wouldn't care about it so much."

 

This is only valid if all the above that I've mentioned wasn't an issue. If you want this to be an "our style only" contest, then make it one. THEN people taking classes at Reapercon to improve in that style is a valid recommendation. Not everyone likes to paint in that style or cares enough for that style to learn it just to win one contest. :)

 

"Prestige, absolutely, I would love to see the Sophie become a truly prestigious award. "

 

To make it desirable and change the above mentioned. No one is going to think a contest is prestigious if staff come away with the majority of the trophies, unless of course, you're staff!

 

"Last I checked, Games Workshop was NOT about rewarding great painting and encouraging up-and-coming artists--it was about politics and winning. "

 

Sadly, that is exactly how this year's ReaperCon contest came off.

 

 

"You won't find those politics at ReaperCon. This year, we used different judging teams for all three events. Five judges for the medals; two different judges for the Reaper Sophies; and then all of you judging the Best In Shows. That's as far as you can get from politics! If you notice that some models won in all three sections of the competition,"

 

If you truly believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you. Seriously, deciding the winners of the Trophies before all entries are submitted isn't political? While some of Reapers commissioned/to own paint jobs were lovely, there were plenty of other paint jobs there just as good, if not better, even in the same style. With the group judging, the paint clubs, the instructors, staff painters and a very niche tight group of people in charge of things, of course it is. The patterns of winners and everything mentioned in all above should have been easily seeable by anyone neutral paying attention and running an event properly.

 

 

"Whoever told anyone that 54's are easier to paint needs to try to paint one.....

Ordnance is a weak category, but we want to keep it because it is a part of the classic Open System format that we are using. What we do need to do is to actively encourage people to paint tanks, jetbikes, trebuchets, war golems--whatever!--for next year so it gets a good showing like it did last year. "

 

I agree with you on the 54 mms, however just because a category is part of an "open" system doesn't mean you should keep it if it doesn't fit well enough. I would keep the trophies as people would actually have closer to fair shot at one in that category!

 

 

 

We try not to begin by looking for flaws in the Open System judging. Shep Paine (who created the system, of course) and Doug Cohen were very explicit in explaining to myself and others about the change of mindset in the judging. You place the models on a shelf in your mind: gold level, silver, bronze, certificate, by looking at what is well-done with the model. For myself, flaws come into play when dealing with a model on the verge of one rating or another, though the rule is to always give the painter the benefit of the doubt where possible. The point behind the Open System is to reward, not to censor. We do look at both well-done sections and flaws when an entry might do better in another category, in order to decide whether to re-place it. That said, yes, I agree that in our end of the mini-painting competition world, it is hard to get out of the "look for flaws" mindset because we've been judging in that manner for so long.

 

 

 

That's another problem. If you aren't counting flaws in cleaning, prep, painting technique very heavily at all, then you should have had a ton more higher medals. I didn't see much rewarding there, which just makes the entire staff/unfairness problems show up that much worse.

 

 

 

IMHO I think Reaper needs to either have a pure display or completely have the contest done by a group that is not in-house, not instructors, not Chicago painters, and not any of the close knit groups who have members affiliated with Reaper in-house and/or commission painters, Con instructors, or Chicago (and Colorado) painters. "Independent Judges" should be Reaper's mantra.

 

 

Maya~

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