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Classes You Wished For That Weren't

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I have debated suggesting a class on how to critique miniatures. Our hobby expends a lot of energy to teaching and learning techniques and tools, and also more artistic elements like composition and colour use. We all crave critique, and good critique is invaluable to improving your work, but there's not much out there that I've seen for how to do it. How to look at something and really figure out what works for you and what is weaker in the piece, and how to communicate your feelings about it in a way that the artist will understand and hopefully be able to use. Maybe it's not something you can teach, or learn, maybe it just takes the time and effort of gaining a better eye as you get more experience doing your own work and looking at others, but I wonder. The idea of putting up slides or passing around pieces that people can study while listening to others critique them is an interesting one.

 

There is no one secret, or list of secrets, that you can tell someone to guarantee they can win a contest, because of what Doug said - sometimes you're going to be in a situation where it comes down to more subjective preferences for the individual judges or voters when they're deciding between very closely matched entries. I think you can outline a variety of factors that will give someone a better chance of doing well in a contest. While it might be interesting to do that as a panel, I don't think it would be required for it to be of value. An instructor could easily solicit opinions from others who have entered and judged contests while preparing for their class so that the information presented doesn't represent only their view.

 

If what people are interested in is more along the lines of what exactly goes into judging the ReaperCon painting contest, that's a bit of a different thing. There is already a set of guidelines written down as to the judging of the contest that is available for any entrant to read, and it is what the judges use as a guideline, as well. (There have been a few changes and things I think that need to be updated, but someone is looking into that!) We could also look into writing more of a layman's guide if the rules version is too much of a slog to read. This would be available to all entrants every year, rather than a panel one year at a time not everyone can make. Such a panel would also only be useful information to entering at ReaperCon. While the show is modeled after the historical show approach, it has some differences. The awarding of Sophie trophies is closer to the ranked awards more common to other fantasy/SF painting contests, but has its differences, too. General information on how to do well at contests is going to be as or more useful in my mind. What I mean by general information is guidelines for composition of a base or diorama, suggestions for how to choose a good miniature, the importance of prep, the value of consistent quality across a figure, techniques that impress judges versus popular voters more, stuff like that.
 

If the idea behind having a panel is more specifically to find out what exactly the set of people who most often judge the RC contest like and dislike, that's starting to feel a little weird to me... are people looking to glean enough information to try to paint a green (colour that Rhonda likes) fairy (subject that Ali likes) on an elaborate wooded base (presentation that Michael likes) in an effort to maximize scores? Part of the point of having a panel of three judges is to minimize a heavy subjective element. If one vote of the three is at significant variance to the other two, the judges are required to verify that they all judged the same piece and justify their votes to the head judge to make sure that it isn't a subjective issue with the piece or its entrant. I think we also try to keep our subjective tastes in check as much as we can. Blue is not my favourite colour and I don't love a lot of gore, but I'm not going to mark a blood-soaked zombie wearing blue pants down to a silver if it's been painted to a gold level.

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Hi guys,

 

It sounds like you would be very surprised to learn that there IS a heavy strategy component to painting for competition, no matter who the judges are. :;): in fact, I could argue that the point in painting for competition is to design and execute a piece that appeals to many different types of people--especially when the Best-In-Show awards are judged by your peers. ::):

 

But more important, if you are approaching the competition as a tool to learn and improve, you are going to get a lot more from a class like Rhonda's "Level Up!" than you would from any panel. A panel will speak only in generalities, whereas the smaller class focuses on what YOU need to do to get to the next level. This discussion can encompass anything from Research (studying past winners), to model choice (far more impactful than you might think, especially in how much enjoyment you 'll gain from the journey), to color and basing composition, to painting technique, special effects, storytelling and beyond.

 

The answer to the eternal debate you mention, Doug, is simple--both. You must have both great artistic style AND great paint-work to take gold. If your style incorporates pointillism instead of smooth blends, that's awesome, but you had better nail it! :lol:

 

I am far more likely to schedule a couple one-instructor classes for this. I get your point about the 100 students, but there remain my points: I could cover three subjects over numerous time slots instead of one subject over one. Because of everything else going on, the minute I schedule a single panel, I will hear howls of dismay from all the people who can't attend at that exact time. :;):

 

Do you see my points?

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As I took Wren's Level Up class, I'll throw in my 2¢ of support for it. So much good stuff in there for folks who are just getting comfortable in the hobby like me. And the bit about competition and especially critique was huge. I took it out and immediately put it to use by turning down my internal voice that wanted to debate points rather than listen and absorb the critiques after the competition.

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For the last three year the people making up the judging teams have been pretty consistent. We always try to bring one or two new people in to gain experience with the system. These are apprentice judges and usually they are attached to one team to learn the ropes (while we do train judges this is not something you can volunteer for). From the pool of available judges we put together the judging teams. Typically we have three teams of three, with one alternate available when a judge has to step out because their piece is being judged. While I know that some of the judges have participated at Genghis Con, I'm not sure about other shows.

 

I think that a class or panel could focus on the five criteria that we use as a guideline (not rules) to evaluate the entries. The criteria are: Degree of Difficulty, Creativity, Workmanship, Painting Skill and Presentation/Overall Effect. These are the artistic criteria so the judges have a guideline to work with. Judging is, ultimately, a matter of personal opinion and while that opinion can be guided, it cannot be dictated. Criteria are guidelines not a checklist.

 

That being said, it probably doesn't need to be a panel like I was originally thinking. It could be handled by a single instructor who is ideally experienced with the system. Its defintely not a painting class, more discussion on what may have swung a piece on way or another.

Edited by Heisler
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Why not have the person running the painting competition that year make a video outlining the five judging criteria, what is looked for in each, and how the five apply to each category *John says while throwing Proctor under the bus* to publish a couple of months before ReaperCon?  :D

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Why not have the person running the painting competition that year make a video outlining the five judging criteria, what is looked for in each, and how the five apply to each category *John says while throwing Proctor under the bus* to publish a couple of months before ReaperCon?  :D

 

That would be useful if I was the only one who got it.  :ph34r:

 

Kidding aside that would be great if we had it by September\October so we could plan stuff out.

Edited by MonkeySloth
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Hey Kris, you volunteering to teach that class? ;)

 

Edit: though the Clever Crow probably should be involved since I believe he is currently re-writing our criteria to reflect the changes in how we actually judge as opposed to other Open System venues. :;):

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One idea we had would be to do a long term beginners class at one of the main tables in the common room. Essentially everyone would start with the same Bones figure and you all paint it up together, following the lead of the instructor.  This class could cover several sessions worth of time or even be done as a multi-evening event. It wouldn't even necessarily need to be lead by one of the VIP artists, but maybe a good painter who just wants to help others.  In the end everyone walks away with a finished piece.

 

Last year at GenCon, I taught a 2 hour beginner class much like this idea that was well received.  I gave each of the students the same mini and walked them through painting it with basic wash and drybrush techniques.  Originally, I had planned to paint along, but my test run showed that it was better if I had painted samples at each step so that I could spend more time helping and students would have a visible reference for each step.

 

I've got the same class offered again this year.

 

The beginning painters toolkit class that I teach at GenCon also has been well received.  I think that Jon may cover some of the same ground in his How Not to Suck class though.

 

Ron

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Hey Kris, you volunteering to teach that class? ;)

Edit: though the Clever Crow probably should be involved since I believe he is currently re-writing our criteria to reflect the changes in how we actually judge as opposed to other Open System venues. :;):

I knew that question would be coming. Clever Crow and I are making that rewrite a combined effort. Guess who got tge hard part! I'll handle the class if it makes the schedule. I don't know about the video piece though, I'll have to have a talk with Michael. I'm pretty sure we will decide that Jon should do it.

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If John does it, you'll need to slow down the video about 30%. ;->

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The answer to the eternal debate you mention, Doug, is simple--both. You must have both great artistic style AND great paint-work to take gold. If your style incorporates pointillism instead of smooth blends, that's awesome, but you had better nail it! :lol:

 

When that happens, the judging is easy. (Well, usually.) There are so few flawless entries, even among consensus gold medal entries, that when you get one it's obvious who's going to win.

 

But I've been involved in judging for place where both of the entries at the top were very strong, but neither was flawless. Today I'd rate both as high silver, but I tend to rate about a half grade lower than, say Lili Troy or Torin Reed. (Both artists are people you know, and I think both have been VIP guests at Reapercon.)

 

That's when it starts to get really hard to get a consensus.

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If the idea behind having a panel is more specifically to find out what exactly the set of people who most often judge the RC contest like and dislike, that's starting to feel a little weird to me... are people looking to glean enough information to try to paint a green (colour that Rhonda likes) fairy (subject that Ali likes) on an elaborate wooded base (presentation that Michael likes) in an effort to maximize scores?

 

*takes notes* :ph34r:

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If the idea behind having a panel is more specifically to find out what exactly the set of people who most often judge the RC contest like and dislike, that's starting to feel a little weird to me... are people looking to glean enough information to try to paint a green (colour that Rhonda likes) fairy (subject that Ali likes) on an elaborate wooded base (presentation that Michael likes) in an effort to maximize scores?

 

*takes notes* :ph34r:

 

 

Rule 1: Buglips the goblin miniature is the most appealing and widely admired piece one could ever enter in the ReaperCon painting competition for every category!

 

Rule 2: green fairy on wooded base is a distant #2.

Edited by groovyedwin
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One idea we had would be to do a long term beginners class at one of the main tables in the common room. Essentially everyone would start with the same Bones figure and you all paint it up together, following the lead of the instructor.  This class could cover several sessions worth of time or even be done as a multi-evening event. It wouldn't even necessarily need to be lead by one of the VIP artists, but maybe a good painter who just wants to help others.  In the end everyone walks away with a finished piece.

 

Piant Club | RCon version.  TaleSpinner's idea sounds kinda like a cross between Paint-n-Take and an Organized Class.

_________________________________________________________________________________

 

A Hirst Arts activity would fit better in a long format like that than in a two hour class. (I had some thoughts about it in another thread...pauses to do search.) It was the 2014 Feedback thread. Re-posting [with revisions and extensions]:

 

Notions Regarding Doing Hirst Arts Classes

 

"Four hour [casting] demo session on Thursday: Casting Hirst Arts Bricks. Sign-up is like a seminar and is as hands-on as each participant wants to get (some garb** / costume considerations might come into play). [Meant for a larger number of people, in a seminar sized space, hands-on XP not guaranteed, depends on number who sign up.]

 

Bricks produced are bagged up [for use the next two days].

 

Building and Assembling HAB: One class Friday; One Class Saturday.

 

Painting Assembled HAB: One Class Sunday morning.

 

If there are [loose] bricks left over from [the] two classes they get bagged up and become an auction item Sunday afternoon."

 

[**thinking of long flowing sleeves here among other things; ...looks at OneBoot.]

_________________________________________________________________________________

 

Activities For Kids (somebody mentioned that higher up the thread...but I don't recall specifics)

 

Color and Take

Suppose line art versions of some Reaper Miniatures and Monsters were created (like concept art but not as shaded in cause that's what the kids get to do). Suppose there were printed copies of these at a table along with a mess of crayons / markers / pens or whatever is considered kid safe these days. Children could wander up, grab a picture, start coloring...

 

Hirst Stack/Build

A big table with lots of finished up bricks. Painted. Partly assembled into little modules. Meant to stack and un-stack like building blocks only it all looks like a dungeon, or a castle, or whatever the kids imagine. Hands on. Participants encouraged to bring figures and imaginations.

 

Pentominal Dungeons

This would require building some dungeon tiles in the shape of Pentominoes. They can fit together in various ways and the activity would be to try and fit a set of twelve within one of the regular rectangle shapes. A walk up and participate format/puzzle solving activity. Impromptu games of micro dungeon crawl possible if it is slow.

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four hours of casting? That would be more difficult than watching paint dry... Biggest issue is having enough copies of one mold to make sufficient casts to make one item, let alone enough bricks during this casting period to make six or eight builds in the final class. Most building kits or dungeon kits take at least 12 casts, some take 16-20, and some 30+ of multiple molds.

 

15 minutes to show how to mix, fill the molds, discuss the plexiglass method and the scrape method. Bring out a mold filled the night before/class before (should be set up by then ) , show how the bricks remain wet for a period of time, usually 24 hours unless you use a dehydrator or toaster oven.

 

Hand out kits to make a CD terrain piece, roughly 25 pieces to assemble with instruction typical of what Bruce has on his site. While assembling, discuss methods of tweaking the design, methods of designing your own, and (possibly) discuss Sketchup, Visio, and regular old graph paper designs.

 

Invite folks to let their glue dry and bring it to a table in the common paint area later in the day where craft paints will be set up to base coat and dry brush their terrain. Maybe tie in a discussion at a specific time to cover additional basing options like static grass, trees, etc.

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