Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Judging at the Reaper MSP Open - Painter Division

Breaking out the scoring or How your models are judged at the Reaper Con MSP Open

This will be a series of four posts each concentrating on a different entry category. These scoring “rules” are based on the MMSI painting competition in Chicago and variants of this system are used on an international basis. Michael Proctor and I took a good hard look at the rules a number of years ago and introduced a few tweaks to the system to better represent what we, as judges, are looking for when scoring your entry at Reaper Con. The basis for all of these is still the MMSI rules and there is not a whole lot of difference between the emphasis of the components in each division. One thing to keep in mind is that manufacturer awards do not necessarily use the MSP Open system. Those winners are, typically, chosen by the manufacturer (including Reaper for the Sophies) or their representative on site using their own criteria.

The scoring is quite simple. A judge assigns an entry one of five numerical values based on their opinion of what the entrant has earned for their entry:

0 – No award
1 – Certificate of Merit
2 – Bronze Medal
3 – Silver Medal
4 – Gold Medal

The Reaper Con judging teams are made up of three judges (There are options to use 4 or 5 judges but regardless of how many judges are used only three scores are tallied). Each judge assigns one of these 5 values to each miniature assigned to their team. The three scores are tallied which gets a value somewhere between 0 and 12. That final tally gives a number that tells the team what award to give to the entrant for that entry. Judging is typically not done by committee, each judge assigns the score they feel the piece deserves and moves on to the next. Most discussion takes place around which piece to score when there are multiple entries. Judges do consult with each other when they have difficulty assigning a score to an entry.

0 – 1 No Award
2 – 4 Certificate of Merit
5 – 7 Bronze Medal
8 – 10 Silver Medal
11 – 12 Gold Medal

So that’s the basics, now let’s take a look at how a judge uses the five components to decide what score they are going to give you.

Painter Division
The Painter Division is for stock models, those that come straight from the package or are assembled as shown by the manufacturer (it can include minor conversions). The Painter Division is the largest category at the MSP Open, often encompassing hundreds of entries at each show. There is no limit to the number of entries that an individual can enter in this category. I personally would limit yourself to your three best, but if you intend to be considered for other manufacturer or theme awards then it would not be out of place to see six or more entries from an individual.
If you have just a single entry then the judges can just go ahead and score your entry, no discussion is necessary. If you have multiple entries, then there will be a discussion between the judges on which entry they want to score. That conversation is typically the only conversation that needs to occur for any given entrant. When selecting the scoring entry the conversation is based on “I can score this one higher than the others” or words to that affect, till they come to a decision which is usually pretty quickly done. If the entries are visually very thematic the judges may decide to judge them together as a single entry.

Let’s take a quick look at the scoring guidelines the judges use (which is published as part of the MSP Open Rules):

Difficulty: 5%
Creativity: 10%
Workmanship: 10%
Painting Skill: 70%
Presentation: 5%

So what does that really mean? In a nutshell we want to see how well you can paint! Did you really execute the different techniques to the best of your ability? Hence why painting skill is the predominant component that a judge is going to look at. Let’s look at a breakdown of those components and how they relate to a miniature in the Painters Division.

Difficulty: This is definitely not an intuitive concept in the Painter Division. The judge is not looking at the techniques (including freehand) you used on the miniature. They are looking at how difficult is the miniature itself to paint. While how difficult a miniature is also subjective, subtle shading on flat or nearly flat surfaces are much more difficult to pull off than shading on a surface with more surface texture. Often difficulty is going to come into play when a judge is on the fence between two scores.

Creativity: This component looks at use of color, color schemes and the use of freehand designs in other words things that aren’t part of the sculpt itself. This is also where painted effects first come into play, like OSL (Object Source Lighting). This is the component that really addresses your freedom of expression on your entry and how well you bring that across to the audience.

Workmanship: This is a pretty straightforward component. It reflects how well you prepared your model for painting. Any type of non-painting effort is represented here. In the Painter division this includes finding the elusive mold line and eliminating it but it also includes assembling a multi piece miniatures or executing minor conversions. A well done conversion or well assembled miniature means that the judge can’t tell that anything has been converted or that it had multiple pieces. A missed mold line, poor assembly or a poorly executed conversion could easily drop you a while numeric value in the scoring.

Painting Skill: This is the whole key to the Painter Division entry, how well you apply paint to the miniature. These is where you are evaluated on the techniques you used how well you executed them. Tying everything together is really important as well. Everything you do must come together as a whole composition. It is an area where judges need to be aware of everything that is going on and how it is fitting together. While this is the predominate component of the Painter Division it is also the most subjective.
Judges must overcome their prejudices about which techniques they prefer. As an example there is nothing wrong with drybrushing as long as you executed it properly regardless of how the judge feels about that technique.
Here is an example of how a judge needs to be aware of many different styles and techniques. Blending doesn’t always have to be a smooth transition from light to dark, there are multiple different types of blending, it is how well you executed the technique or style you opted for. Do you blend like Jen Haley or like Alfonso “Banshee” Giraldes? They both achieve marvelous blends but their techniques are markedly different in achieving those blends.

Presentation: While not the most important component in the Painter Division it is another example of getting the little things right. A nice, well executed base will set the “scene” for your miniature. It can be the simple base that the miniature came on or with or it can be more elaborate, although I would save the effort on a really elaborate base for a miniature going into the Open or Diorama divisions. This component is another that one that a judge will often use when making that final decision between scores, a tie breaker as it were.

If you made it through that wall of text, congratulations! Hopefully that helped explain away some of the magic behind the scoring in the Painter Division.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Acquisitions - Reaper Con Loot Delivered

I count the package that arrived yesterday as more loot from Reaper Con since it really was a result of being at the show. Not much to show off and of course it includes a component for another wild idea that is not likely to get very far the Sledgehammer BFG.

The extent of my miniature purchase. All I really ordered was the two Reaper Con Sophies for this year. The Kobolds were included for free, one pack for every $40 I think. I have no idea what I'm going to do with those.

Some more paint, filling in some blanks in my color ranges, just to save time from mixing.

The Sledgehammer BFG created in conjunction with Victoria Miniatures.

That's a lot of pieces

A look at the crew. Apparently these are available from Victoria Lamb in resin. I'm contemplating getting that set along with some extra bits and pieces. She also produces three add on kits to the Sledgehammer, including replacing the wheels with tracks, adding a gun shield, or shortening the whole barrel up for more of an assault howitzer look.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Acquisitions - ReaperCon Loot

This year the Reaper Con loot is coming in a couple of different ways. We did pick up a few non-Reaper items at the show and the rest is coming in the mail. Not because it wouldn't fit in the car but because some of it is compensation for the work I do.

At the Scale 75 booth I spotted a Rosie the Riveter bust. I promptly showed this to my wife, who as a Rosie the Riveter fan, had to have it. This, of course, allowed me to pick out something for myself. I allowed myself to be nudged toward a 54mm George Washington. Both of these are FeR sculpts and I look forward to getting to work on them.

My wife had decided that 28mm miniatures were just to small to work on so hopefully this larger piece will have more interest for her.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Acquisitions - Ticket to Ride UK

This is a little bit of the loot that I picked up a Reaper con, a boardgame of all things. I certainly realize that this Ticket to Ride variant has been out for sometime but I have been remiss in keeping up with one of my favorite game series.

Like most of these variants you need a copy of one the larger games for the additional components like cars and markers. Certainly not a problem for me! The flip side of the UK board is Pennsylvania and both introduce some very interesting variations.

The UK has upgrade cards and you purchase these upgrades with locomotives. In fact you can trade in regular cards to obtain additional locomotive cards which is a neat concept. There are a fair number of upgrades and you must buy upgrades in order to reach certain parts of the board (like Scotland, Ireland and France) as well as being able to lay trains on the larger routes. I can see some interesting strategies coming from this and I'm looking forward to playing it (some time).

The Pennsylvania board adds stock certificates. When you lay trains on certain routes you can pick from a stock certificates associated with that particular route. Players with the most stock certificates in the companies get bonus points! Shades of an 18xx game there! Not to surprising since Alan was involved in the development of 1830, along with its two variants, the Reading and the Coalfields. Another variant that I look forward to giving a try.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

ReaperCon 2018 Day 4

Day 4, worn down and pretty tired at this point, but its still the highlight of the convention for me because its auction day! We have been ending the convention with the auction for quite some time now and it gives me a chance to get up on stage. The only time I enjoy being on stage! At this auction you can only use Reaper Bucks which you earn by taking classes, playing games and in general just participating in the convention. While the issue of people pooling their resources always comes up as a sore point each year there isn't much I can do about it and when it comes right down to it everything is free anyway. There was plenty of stuff on hand as well, from the slightly used classroom paints, to miniatures and airbrushes. Overall I would say it was quite successful this year. I know the room was certainly packed to the gills. It was so big that I had problems seeing folks in the back they were so far away.

We were already packed up to slip away and head home right after the auction and so we did with a few quick good byes. It was time to hit the road for the roughly 750 mile trip home. Our goal, once again, was to get to Amarillo that night and make back to Denver early in the afternoon on Monday. That didn't quite work out as planned.

About 65 miles out of Amarillo we blew a tire, lost the whole tread. That required changing a tire, at night, on the side of 75 MPH highway. Fortunately we lost the right front tire so I was away from traffic, but its still a little nerve wracking. The Volvo C30 naturally features a small spare so I had to limp the car into Amarillo at 50 mph which took quite a while and made us a hazard on the highway to boot.

We arrived safely at the hotel, and then ran into more difficulty on Monday morning trying to get a new tire. It was Labor Day and everyone but Walmart and Firestone were closed. It took about four hours at the Firestone and we were finally back on the road, albeit with two new tires there were not the right size. It was the best that could be done and it got us home late Monday night. Yesterday we replaced all four tires. The Volvo only gets driven about 8 miles a day back and forth to work and the 45,000 mile tires only had about 20,000 miles on them. However, they were six years old and that's what made the difference on a dark night in TX!

A very empty painting competition room.

Stuff for the auction!

James Wappel had his own space away from the other Artists, he needs some serious elbow room when wielding his airbrush.

All the remains are the sidewalls on a 215/45R18 tire, which apparently in TX no one uses.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

ReaperCon 2018 Day 2 & 3

I'm just going to combine Friday and Saturday together. They all start to blend together after a while and from my standpoint they are pretty much the same. Lots of classes going on, lots of shoppers and lots of gaming.

A Freeblades demo game in Action
We use a modified version of the Open or Medal system created by the MMSI in Chicago. In Chicago dioramas are included in the Open category, at Reaper we elected to split them out into their own category resulting in a total of 4 categories: Painter (stock figures), Open (scratchbuilt and/or converted), Ordnance (Machines of War) and Diorama. Here is a selection of a few of the 500 plus entries in the various categories in the painting competition. I'm the captain for the Ordnance judging team. And no we don't score our own entries, we have an alternate step in to do that.

I love the creativity behind this diorama featuring Moby Dick.

The exclusive Con Sophie as painted by Rhonda Bender

I really just loved this horse, very well done

A good example of an Open piece, this is a scratch sculpt that started life as a piece of dead wood

I like the miniature in the pocket watch

Ordnance, from GW

To 1/35th scale Armor

While this diorama is extremely well done, it takes some time for the story to really come out,

This one was just fun

Here is my FT-17 in progress, this would eventually get a silver medal.

While I'm thinking about it. The one thing that is really holding people back from getting gold medals in the Ordnance category is mold lines, seams and poorly applied decals. Take some effort to clean up all your mold lines and fill the seams, they distract so much from the model. I saw some beautiful GW kits in the competition, that suffered from this plus poorly applied decals. If you are going to spend $100 plus dollars on a kit at least take the time to build it right!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

ReaperCon 2018 Day 1

Day 1 starts off bright and early for us. The vendors' hall is open at 8 for the rest of the vendors coming in which really is most of them. Thursday is the lightest day for activity but I would guess we still had about 300-400 attendees on site. The vendor hall was busy with shoppers right from the time we opened it up.

One of the things that we do to encourage attendees to stop in is the Vendor Punch Card. We give each vendor a punch to use for the convention and attendees bring their punch cards (from the their swag bag after they register). If you get a punch from each vendor then you can turn it in at the Reaper booth for an exclusive con miniature. It guarantees that most of the attendees will actually visit your booth, although there is a certainly level of rudeness that has cropped up with it over the years. Lots of attendees have started to really just stick the cards at the vendors without so much as a "hello, could you please punch my card?"which bothers me, but the vendors haven't really complained to much.

The first entries started to show up in the competition area too. Its best just to have it ready to go and get it in rather than try and finish something on site. That never works for me very well. In the end I decided not to enter the Sherman from Trenchworx as I felt it just wasn't ready, so I opted for the Trenchworx FT-17 and two of the 21st Panzer Division Normandy vehicles that I did from Mad Bob's last kickstarter.

DGS and their skirmish game Freeblades

Talon Games, the owner of CAV. Who doesn't like stompy mechs?

Texas Viking, local game seller

Forge Prints, although the company name is officially changing. I'll have to dig that up.

And there is one of the new cards right in the photograph!

Best Little Craft House in TX

Complete with Cats

Hanger 18

Bombshell Miniatures

Bobe's Hobby, a con staple

Badger Air Brush Company, back in attendance

Jane's Tools, he usually does model railroad shows but decided to give us a try this year. What painter/modeler doesn't love tools?

Another local game seller, specializing in used material

Queen Penquin, making all kinds of cool jewelery

Another Convention Staple, Frontline Games

The Reaper Booth, already seeing traffic

Darkflame books, finally releases her second book

MidKnight Heroes

Frozen Ninja 3D

And a close up of their display board

Tabletop Plus, another con staple

Typhoon Paint Mixers

Scale 75

The main hall filling up

Those are game demo booths on the left side

Registration, in between rushes. We had some issues with the Growtix software we were using but I think everything will be ironed out for next year. The company was on site and I think has a much better idea of what needs to change.