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Wonder Woman

First year thoughts

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Honestly, would limiting entries help? There's no reason really for anyone to submit more than 2 to any category and it takes up judges valuable time to pick the best, especially with so many entries now. 

PS I want to thank Kuro Cleanbrush for side-barring with me via messages and giving me feedback on my work. 

Edited by TigerMoJo
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36 minutes ago, TigerMoJo said:

There's no reason really for anyone to submit more than 2 to any category ....

 

Not actually true. It's not always obvious which of your entries will be most appealing to judges, but even if that's pretty clear, there are manufacturers' awards in addition to the general medal competition. This year, for instance, it would have been reasonable in Painters (or Open or Ordnance) to include a model from FeR because it's your best piece, a Reaper model to compete for a Sophie, a Scale 75 model, a Dark Sword model, and multiple Bombshell minis to compete in each of their categories. And if you're not sure which is the better model in each of those categories, that would increase the number still further.

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I don't think the number of entries is currently being abused, so limiting entries probably wouldn't help significantly anyway.  Anne said there were 500 entries from 200 people  - that's an average of 2.5 pieces per person.  When you consider that there are 4 different categories (Open, Painter, Diorama, and Ordinance) and that Ordinance had the smallest number of entries, it appears that most people are entering 1 piece each in 2-3 categories. 

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56 minutes ago, Doug Sundseth said:

 

Not actually true. It's not always obvious which of your entries will be most appealing to judges, but even if that's pretty clear, there are manufacturers' awards in addition to the general medal competition. This year, for instance, it would have been reasonable in Painters (or Open or Ordnance) to include a model from FeR because it's your best piece, a Reaper model to compete for a Sophie, a Scale 75 model, a Dark Sword model, and multiple Bombshell minis to compete in each of their categories. And if you're not sure which is the better model in each of those categories, that would increase the number still further.


I forgot about all the mini maker categories. Good points.

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Several more thoughts, in no particular order:

 

I agree with Doug; he speaks words of great wisdom and truth!

 

I agree with Doug; his insights are correct!

 

I agree with Doug; the observations he has made capture the situation perfectly!

 

 

Okay, so joking aside (I do really agree with Doug, though!) here's some comments:

 

- There is no perfect system for judging a subjective thing.  Trust me, I am an engineer and about as mathematical as one can be, so I understand everyone's desire to boil the competition down into: "Do this at level 1 for bronze, level 2 for silver, level 3 for gold", but (even if such a system were attempted) it would inevitably devolve into "why did I get a 1.9 instead of a 2?".  This is unavoidable whether we used weighted percentages, 0-4 whole numbers, 1.0-12.0 with fractions or what have you.  At the end of the day, we judges truly are volunteers who are giving up no small amount of time (on our vacation!) to do this, and the 0-4 system with three judges is the most practical system I can really envision.

 

- I like Corporea and Rhonda's idea about having a library of painted figures with critiques of why they would be representative of certain skill levels.  However, when you stop to think about it, we all have a HUGE library of painted figures and their associated awards on the the ReaperCon homepage!  While a few minis may be borderline or result in dissenting opinions, surely the vast majority will be solidly within their respective award tier.  Especially with the quality of the photography getting better each year, everyone should have a very functional tool at their disposal to gauge where they stand (on average).  If you are a bronze painter who wants to be a silver painter, go look at all the silver winners in a category and ask yourself, on average, "what are they doing that I am not?"  If you can't tell on your own, then ask a better miniaturist to help you see!

 

- Lastly, lest anyone think that the judges are just being elitist members of the "good ol' boys" club, I want to assure you that ALL of us have had the experience at some point or another of receiving a lower award than we were hoping for.  Just a few years ago, I entered a 100+ hour diorama in hopes of maybe winning a Sophie that year (I was already a gold-level painter at the time), and, much to my chagrin, I not only did not win a Sophie, I didn't even get a gold medal!  Was I happy about that?  Of course not!  But, as time passed, I came to see that the judges had really judged me fairly and that my entry had a lot of problems with it that I did not realize properly at the time.  The next year, I put those lessons into action and won a gold!  Also, I'm not alone; just ask the other judges for stories about the times they have been severely disappointed by a given award!

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Yup.  Case in point.  Jen Greenwald entered her "RIP Charlie" this year in Open.  Hope she won't mind too much with a quick explanation.  It was adorable and most of us have probably had many a character that was done in by a trap, especially if we play DCC.  Poor Charlie.

mspopen_image.php?file=2553a.jpg&size=detail

 

So the painting is good. Jen is a gold level painter generally.  You can see the highlights on the knuckles and definition in the stonework. We could argue the blood could have some texture to it, maybe be built up a bit rather than being flat.  Maybe more color in the stone or variation.  But this is the open category, where the painting isn't enough.  In terms of a conversion, she removed most of a bow from a miniature and curved the remainder to look like a door handle.  She cut the top off a pillar from the graveyard expansion's pillar.  This is a great idea, very creative, well painted, but in terms of difficulty, very simple. Because of the simplicity, Jen got bronze.  (Actually she told me she would have been mad at us for awarding any higher than that...)

 

It's weird.  Sometimes the things we work on the hardest go unnoticed, and the things we sit down and paint quickly for fun get all the attention.  There's an indescribable quality to some miniatures that just have mass appeal, and it's almost impossible to predict it.  Sort of like figuring out ahead of time what story to write that will go viral and be made into a movie.  It's just blind luck more often than not. But there are certain qualities that make a well-thought out, well-painted miniature.  It can be subtle, like texture or color choice.  Or more obvious like composition and blending.  This is not to say that smooth blending is required.  The miniature I entered in painters this year had deliberate texture- I covered the cursed thing in stippling and crosshatching because I wanted it to look more like a painting, but I'll go ahead and let ya know- smooth blending would have been way faster!  Argh! 

 

At any rate, Ian is right, we've all had things we love fall short of our expectations.  Us arty types don't always take this well, because we pour our souls into our work and it hurts when others don't see the care we lavish on our creations.  I wish there were a way to make it better.  Trust me.  Someone told me once they'd overheard a deeply negative critique of their mini years ago and it convinced them they should never enter the painting contest again.  That literally (Julie and Bob can confirm) made me cry. That is the absolute last thing we want and it hurt me deeply to think of the pain caused by an offhand comment.  We don't want to be like that.  So, er, yeah!  Keep painting and we'll keep working on helping!

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Just stepping in with a few more comments about the judging. No system is perfect, but  the MSP Open style is a good compromise.

 

The MSP Open is based on the Open judging rules developed by the MMSI Group in Chicago. The basic idea is that you are not competing against anyone else in the competition, you are being judged on the skills that you are showing off. The primary difference is, that as a judge, we are looking at all the good things you have done and making decisions based on those good things. We aren't focused on the flaws, although there are things that will immediately drop you down a medal level, like mold lines. Most painting competitions, in the US, are trophy oriented so that only the top three painters are given an award and judges are very focused on flaws and rarely give a painter any type of feedback on their entry. Trophy competitions are, almost, always anonymous to avoid favoritism. At Reaper Con we don't care who you are, famous miniature painter or not, we just care about how well you execute. That's usually why I recommend that you don't try out a new technique on a competition piece unless you are absolutely sure that you can pull it off.

 

All the points people are bringing up are exactly why we use this particular model for the competition. The "rubric" as it were is published in the rules for each category. It serves as a rough guide for the judges. Michael and I spent a lot of time modifying both the description of the categories and what we want to emphasize within each category (which means the Kuro and I will be having a discussion again about dioramas! Story First!::D:). There are a couple of places that we are different from MMSI as well. We like dioramas and felt they deserved their own category, at MMSI Dioramas fall into the Open section, which really makes sense when you think about it but Michael and I felt that it really did a disservice to dioramas. The general nature of the rubric is exactly why multiple judges score each piece. In theory their scores should balance each other out. At Reaper Con we use the minimum number of judges which is three but as MMSI and other shows they use teams as large as five. Here is the difference. With three judges all the scores are counted, with four judges the lowest score is tossed out and the three remaining scores are counted, with five judges the high and the low scores are tossed. We just don't have the number of judges (and not just anyone can be a judge either) so we opted for the three member format. Since we instituted the open format I would say that the judges are actually remarkably consistent in how they score things. We usually see a difference when a judge is taken out of their comfort zone and judge something like Ordnance, or Open. And actually when forming teams we really don't try to have a soft, hard and a neutral judge on a team. The main criteria is that we don't have two "hard" judges or two "soft" judges on a team. Those are the situations when scores can really be skewed especially in the three judge format.

 

As far as a library of miniatures for the different levels, that is really impossible to do. I saw a suggestion, that I think is excellent, is just to go back and look at the entries from past contests, all of which can be viewed on the Reaper Con website. 2012 is the first year available for pictures but I think we actually started this style of judging in 2010. If we had examples of the various levels, you would not be able to take into account the very different styles of mini painting that are out there. I can tell you this though, the skill levels for the various medals will change slightly from year to year. Two factors impact that . First the skill level of the painters that enter push the bar higher for the different levels. Stuff that won gold back in 2012 might only be silver now. Again that is impacted by the skill levels, overall, of the painters entering  the ReaperCon competition have increased every single year. The quality of the judges impacts those scores as well. We try to train a couple of new judges everyone (they start as apprentices) and work them into the rotation so they can get a hands on look and feel of what we do. But that means that those teams change every year, about the only thing that remains consistent in that regard are the team captains. You can usually count on your team being slightly different each year and that helps ensure that particular styles of painting become over whelming favorites to win gold medals. Sophie judging is a whole different animal, so anything I have said here pretty much goes out the window for the judging of Sophie's and manufacturer awards.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Heisler said:

Just stepping in with a few more comments about the judging. No system is perfect, but  the MSP Open style is a good compromise.

 

 

All the points people are bringing up are exactly why we use this particular model for the competition. The "rubric" as it were is published in the rules for each category. It serves as a rough guide for the judges. Michael and I spent a lot of time modifying both the description of the categories and what we want to emphasize within each category (which means the Kuro and I will be having a discussion again about dioramas! Story First!::D:). There are a couple of places that we are different from MMSI as well. We like dioramas and felt they deserved their own category, at MMSI Dioramas fall into the Open section, which really makes sense when you think about it but Michael and I felt that it really did a disservice to dioramas. The general nature of the rubric is exactly why multiple judges score each piece. In theory their scores should balance each other out. At Reaper Con we use the minimum number of judges which is three but as MMSI and other shows they use teams as large as five. Here is the difference. With three judges all the scores are counted, with four judges the lowest score is tossed out and the three remaining scores are counted, with five judges the high and the low scores are tossed. We just don't have the number of judges (and not just anyone can be a judge either) so we opted for the three member format. Since we instituted the open format I would say that the judges are actually remarkably consistent in how they score things. We usually see a difference when a judge is taken out of their comfort zone and judge something like Ordnance, or Open. And actually when forming teams we really don't try to have a soft, hard and a neutral judge on a team. The main criteria is that we don't have two "hard" judges or two "soft" judges on a team. Those are the situations when scores can really be skewed especially in the three judge format.

 

 

Hi Heisler!  Thanks for chiming in on this and for your excellent points!

 

In my own defense, however, I wanted to comment briefly on two points:

 

First, please forgive any confusion my very unofficial scoring rubric may have caused (especially regarding Open).  I was just trying to put a little more rubber on the road of the official scoring rubric as I think many people are confused by what a category such as "difficulty" actually means.  However, I still stand by the general understanding of a Diorama gold as requiring very nearly a gold-level paint job, so story and painting are on essentially the same level.  I would actually go as far as to say that the whole team for the past 3-4 years has operated on that notion.  If anything, I am actually the champion for rewarding story, so a group recalibration may be in order if you and Michael feel we have been overly critical in that category.

 

Second, thanks for the clarification on team make-up.  I was merely repeating something I had been told for why the Lovejoy-Wappel-Markon team had been formed like it had, but things make more practical sense how you described!

 

 

And, lastly, as a general comment to everyone in this thread (or the other ReaperCon review thread), I want to apologize if I have taken any of the feedback concerning the judging too personally.  ReaperCon is near and dear to my heart as the best miniature-related convention out there, and, while no con is without flaws, I feel that there is no con where the competition team goes out of their way more to teach, encourage, and otherwise give of their time to entrants than this one.  As a part of that volunteer team, it is hard not to take acusasions of bias or inconsistency personally (or as an attack on friends) especially considering that we are all in there giving up good portions of two of our evenings trying our hardest to rank 500 entries from 200 entrants in a way that reflects well on the convention, the hobby, and the judging team!

 

And now, with all that said, I will do my best to thicken my skin (especially knowing that no one bringing up negative critiques is actively trying to do anything other than make the competition better).

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Thank you everyone for all the clarification and information! As a first year entrant and Con goer it was a bit of a mystery as to how everything fit together and worked, but it does! I am so excited for next year- and who knows? We might even be able to get to take a class or two! Yay ReaperCon and ReaperCon ribbon badge addictions :wub:

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14 hours ago, Kuro Cleanbrush said:

 

Hi Heisler!  Thanks for chiming in on this and for your excellent points!

 

In my own defense, however, I wanted to comment briefly on two points:

 

First, please forgive any confusion my very unofficial scoring rubric may have caused (especially regarding Open).  I was just trying to put a little more rubber on the road of the official scoring rubric as I think many people are confused by what a category such as "difficulty" actually means.  However, I still stand by the general understanding of a Diorama gold as requiring very nearly a gold-level paint job, so story and painting are on essentially the same level.  I would actually go as far as to say that the whole team for the past 3-4 years has operated on that notion.  If anything, I am actually the champion for rewarding story, so a group recalibration may be in order if you and Michael feel we have been overly critical in that category.

 

Second, thanks for the clarification on team make-up.  I was merely repeating something I had been told for why the Lovejoy-Wappel-Markon team had been formed like it had, but things make more practical sense how you described!

 

 

And, lastly, as a general comment to everyone in this thread (or the other ReaperCon review thread), I want to apologize if I have taken any of the feedback concerning the judging too personally.  ReaperCon is near and dear to my heart as the best miniature-related convention out there, and, while no con is without flaws, I feel that there is no con where the competition team goes out of their way more to teach, encourage, and otherwise give of their time to entrants than this one.  As a part of that volunteer team, it is hard not to take acusasions of bias or inconsistency personally (or as an attack on friends) especially considering that we are all in there giving up good portions of two of our evenings trying our hardest to rank 500 entries from 200 entrants in a way that reflects well on the convention, the hobby, and the judging team!

 

And now, with all that said, I will do my best to thicken my skin (especially knowing that no one bringing up negative critiques is actively trying to do anything other than make the competition better).

I haven’t seen or heard any complaints at this point Ian!

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I greatly appreciate you guys going into more detail about the judging here. This year was my first year at Reapercon, and the MSP Open my first painting contest so it is nice to see this amount of information available for me to consider for next year.

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22 hours ago, Heisler said:

I haven’t seen or heard any complaints at this point Ian!

 

Thanks, Kris!  That does encourage me greatly, and please forgive me if I have been too touchy with this stuff!

 

 

16 hours ago, Randomdawning said:

I greatly appreciate you guys going into more detail about the judging here. This year was my first year at Reapercon, and the MSP Open my first painting contest so it is nice to see this amount of information available for me to consider for next year.

 

That makes me very happy that our discussion has indeed been useful to you!  My goal is to always encourage everyone to enter each and every year and to keep entering!

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