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Dakimbrell

Confessions of a contest judge...

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I was one of the judges at Chattanooga. With 3112 entries, it required some serious work to pick the top entries.

For dioramas, don't try to put EVERYTHING into a scene. Less is better. Consider how the main subject got into position; tanks, airplanes, and artillery are not weightless and need to be moved.

Remember, gravity is a heartless master, this on a ramp or slope roll down hill.

Dak

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Agree. I'm in favor of more compact dioramas and vignettes.

IMHO one focal point is all that is needed and if there is a lot of open space, it is wasted space and should be omitted.  I'm in a group on FB and all I see is all this open, empty space on a dio with maybe one vehicle and a handful of figures.  It may match the antique image, but unless one is being asked to recreate a scene for a museum, the dio could and should be made more compact.  Just my 2¢.

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The “I have a bunch of models, so let’s put them on the same base” is a poor approach to dioramas. I wish more would read Shep Paine’s books. 

Dak

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As a diorama judge for many years, my first question when I look at a diorama is "What story is it trying to tell me?" Those that make it very obvious, very quickly will have a greater chance of making it to the Final Three for that category. Another criteria is the consistency between items on the diorama. For example, if showing a desert scene, and 5 vehicles have matte finishes, but the 6th is glossy, I go read the entry sheet to see if the builder discusses why he/she did it this way. If there's no explanation, that inconsistency will make further progress more difficult during the rest of the judging session. The use of space is considered, but not as heavily as these two criteria. I hope these comments help you!

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Another thing I see, which is way too common, is neat rubble. For some reason many think rubble falls so vehicles will have  a clear smooth path on the ground or pavement. The builder wants a big pile of rubble and blown up buildings, except for this clear track through the mess.

If you want a dirty mess, don't make it look like someone swept up where the tank is rolling.

Dak

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Dave,

I suspect that happens because the builder wants to use a built piece of armor without having to take the suspension apart to make it work on an uneven surface.

JMO

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1 hour ago, jcorley said:

I suspect that happens because the builder wants to use a built piece of armor without having to take the suspension apart to make it work on an uneven surface.

I do not disagree, but it is not realistic and counts heavily (or should) against the builder when it comes to a contest. If I didn't want to do seatbelts in an airplane because I found it difficult, people would not be sympathetic.

Dak

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is this a fair place to introduce the "to weather or not" discussion?

some think thrice about slathering age & patina on a model after putting countless hours into its creation. should they immediately be scorned by others who insist it should be to their criteria? what about those who use stage tricks to cover inaccuracies in their assemblage? should they be getting a ribbon?

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On 8/30/2019 at 2:10 PM, Roktman said:

. . . one focal point is all that is needed and if there is a lot of open space, it is wasted space . . . 

a picture is framed without a mat border, the eye takes in its peripheral details. isolated by a mat, the view is focused on the subject. obviously there are extremes, but a bit of space around a subject can enhance the presentation.

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On 9/15/2019 at 5:02 PM, Dakimbrell said:

I do not disagree, but it is not realistic and counts heavily (or should) against the builder when it comes to a contest. If I didn't want to do seatbelts in an airplane because I found it difficult, people would not be sympathetic.

Dak

That's why realism is NOT and should not be a judging criteria..ever

 

Dave

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5 hours ago, tomqvaxy said:

some think thrice about slathering age & patina on a model after putting countless hours into its creation. should they immediately be scorned by others who insist it should be to their criteria? what about those who use stage tricks to cover inaccuracies in their assemblage? should they be getting a ribbon?

Mud has always covered a multitude of sins. So have tarps and other gear. That's merely part of the art of model building.

5 hours ago, tomqvaxy said:

a bit of space around a subject can enhance the presentation.

True, but many still seem to think more is always better and go to extremes. The seem to think a big base leads to a winning model, which is rarely trueDak

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4 minutes ago, dmorrissette said:

That's why realism is NOT and should not be a judging criteria..ever

This is simply not true in IPMS judging. While we may give the builder the benefit of the doubt, we do judge gross accuracy and often in the specific. GENERALLY  SPEAKING....While an airplane with a crooked part may not be "good craftsmanship", it is also not "accurate". Tanks with floating tracks are not accurate, but it is also considered poor craftmanship. We may not judge specifics like the location of a unit marking or the shade of color, but we do judge accuracy. If not, then why put so much time into the effort? We could just pick the ones we think are pretty.

Generally speaking, heavy rubble with a neatly cleared path for a tank's tracks shows a lack of consistency, which is a consideration in judging. Many times I have seen vehicles put into locations where it would be impossible to get into...or out of.... without a helicopter. This is poor craftsmanship and shows a lack of consistency.

Dak

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On 9/18/2019 at 10:53 AM, Dakimbrell said:

This is simply not true in IPMS judging. While we may give the builder the benefit of the doubt, we do judge gross accuracy and often in the specific. GENERALLY  SPEAKING....While an airplane with a crooked part may not be "good craftsmanship", it is also not "accurate". Tanks with floating tracks are not accurate, but it is also considered poor craftmanship. We may not judge specifics like the location of a unit marking or the shade of color, but we do judge accuracy. If not, then why put so much time into the effort? We could just pick the ones we think are pretty.

Generally speaking, heavy rubble with a neatly cleared path for a tank's tracks shows a lack of consistency, which is a consideration in judging. Many times I have seen vehicles put into locations where it would be impossible to get into...or out of.... without a helicopter. This is poor craftsmanship and shows a lack of consistency.

Dak

I was often asked to judge 1/72-1/76 scale armor when the category was small and before Dragon and others made a push into the scale. I am not a WW2 German armor person, so I judged kits based on the basics of constructions. I could not judge them on realistic markings or paint schemes. While I know some basic items, like Panthers and King Tigers would not have DAK markings, I would not know about other unit markings.

Now throw an M1A2 tank with USMC markings or an M113A3 in Vietnam, and I'll know that isn't correct.

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When we talk of accuracy, or rather not judging it, we generally are referring to checking to see if something is the exactly the correct length or width, the right color and things like that. We do look at things like gravity. A Panzer crewman holding a tool, is one thing, but holding the jack of a Tiger tank on his shoulder is pure fantasy.

As much as I know about Tigers and Panthers, I doubt I would ever try to criticize detail points without a detail book and even then it would be iffy. Judging a shade of color is the most absolutely asinine thing to worry about. Still, we do look accuracy in how a model sets....no floating wheels, or similar things. That is why I say "neat" rubble is contradictory when it comes to dioramas. And you shouldn't put the model is an impossible or very improbable situation....say a sixty ton tank in a blown up building with a basement.

I note most builders do not put foot prints on the tops of vehicles and I think this is inaccurate, but I don't judge the lack as a point unless others have included it and done it well.

Dak

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On 9/22/2019 at 11:29 AM, RGronovius said:

I was often asked to judge 1/72-1/76 scale armor when the category was small . . . 

ha ha - good one!

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I think this argument over "accuracy" is coming down to semantics, and the issue that keeps coming up is that Dak's definition of "accuracy" that considers things like seam lines and glue blobs to be accuracy issues is one that isn't really shared by anyone else.

Personally, I would put things into three categories.

1. Craftsmanship: This is stuff like seam lines, alignment, brush strokes in the paint, glue blobs on the canopy, etc.

2. Composition: Stuff like vehicles on soft ground with no tracks to how they got there, how the various elements go together in such a way that they tell a story and make sense. This is primarily a factor in dioramas, but also can be an issue in figures where you are painting highlights and shadows and need to have a consistent light source.

3. Accuracy: Does it represent something that his historically accurate -- are the markings a historically accurate representation of a specific vehicle, is it the right shade of paint, does it have the right number of rivets, etc. This is something that we really can't and probably shouldn't judge for a litany of reasons, including the vast subject matter expertise needed to prove someone right or wrong on every possible individual marking or detail on every possible variant of every possible vehicle.

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9 minutes ago, crimsyn1919 said:

I think this argument over "accuracy" is coming down to semantics, and the issue that keeps coming up is that Dak's definition of "accuracy" that considers things like seam lines and glue blobs to be accuracy issues is one that isn't really shared by anyone else.

Personally, I would put things into three categories.

1. Craftsmanship: This is stuff like seam lines, alignment, brush strokes in the paint, glue blobs on the canopy, etc.

2. Composition: Stuff like vehicles on soft ground with no tracks to how they got there, how the various elements go together in such a way that they tell a story and make sense. This is primarily a factor in dioramas, but also can be an issue in figures where you are painting highlights and shadows and need to have a consistent light source.

3. Accuracy: Does it represent something that his historically accurate -- are the markings a historically accurate representation of a specific vehicle, is it the right shade of paint, does it have the right number of rivets, etc. This is something that we really can't and probably shouldn't judge for a litany of reasons, including the vast subject matter expertise needed to prove someone right or wrong on every possible individual marking or detail on every possible variant of every possible vehicle.

So, you are saying a large seam down the spine of an airplane and floating road wheels on a tank are “accurate”?

There is no need to do most of the things we consider good craftsmanship if it is not to make the model more accurate.

It is easy to judge filling a seam and not so easy to judge the shade of paint and the do not judge the colt for that reason. 

However, no matter how good it is built, I doubt people would give a top award to Hartman’s Me-109 done in bright pinks.

We also know A6M5 Zeros did not fly in Dutch markings during the Battle of Britain. The Battle of the Bulge, maybe, but definitely not the Battle of Britain.

No judging accuracy is aimed at minor technical points of which only a handful might be aware.

Dak

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33 minutes ago, Dakimbrell said:

So, you are saying a large seam down the spine of an airplane and floating road wheels on a tank are “accurate”?

There is no need to do most of the things we consider good craftsmanship if it is not to make the model more accurate.

It is easy to judge filling a seam and not so easy to judge the shade of paint and the do not judge the colt for that reason. 

However, no matter how good it is built, I doubt people would give a top award to Hartman’s Me-109 done in bright pinks.

We also know A6M5 Zeros did not fly in Dutch markings during the Battle of Britain. The Battle of the Bulge, maybe, but definitely not the Battle of Britain.

No judging accuracy is aimed at minor technical points of which only a handful might be aware.

Dak

I'm not saying that a seam line is accurate, but that issues like that should fall under the category of craftsmanship issues as they represent an problem with the application of skill in the construction, not with research into the specific shape, colour, etc. of the subject. That's where we get into the semantic issue. Everyone agrees that seam lines are bad; it's just that most people file them under craftsmanship issues, because most people don't share your idiosyncratic definition of "accuracy" as it pertains to our hobby.

As for the bright pink 109... I may be in the minority, but I would say that if is the best aircraft on the table, then it deserves the award, and I would personally congratulate the builder for his or her creativity.

As an aside, I am currently working on a P40 that I plan to paint bright pink. I'm sure everyone knows that P40s weren't painted bright pink and that I should get dinged hard at first glance and not even make the first cut for doing such a grossly inaccurate representation of the subject, no matter how skillfully I execute it. But what if I were to show you a picture of Suzanne Parish's mount which inspired it?

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2 hours ago, crimsyn1919 said:

I'm not saying that a seam line is accurate, but that issues like that should fall under the category of craftsmanship issues as they represent an problem with the application of skill in the construction, not with research into the specific shape, colour, etc. of the subject.

What we consider as good craftsmanship is based on what we consider accurate. Based on what I see win at events, this is simple truth. I fail to understand why this concept upsets some. The rules are clear and accuracy does count for some element of judging, but not all. Nor should it.

We spend thousands of dollars on reference material and more on the aftermarket items like P.E. and resin, not to mention the "right" color paint. Whole companies have been based on producing the most "accurate" item.

One of the most common questions posted on any forum, anywhere, is "What is the most accurate xxxx?" The silliest question is what is the most correct color paint, but it still gets asked. As a group, we are obsessed with accuracy and expect the winning models to reflect it to some degree.

2 hours ago, crimsyn1919 said:

As for the bright pink 109... I may be in the minority, but I would say that if is the best aircraft on the table, then it deserves the award, and I would personally congratulate the builder for his or her creativity.

But, it a regular category, I doubt it would be seen as the best model on the table. Unusual things tend to be seen as poor craftmanship, even when proof is provided. And I doubt anyone would do such a model (all the bells and whistles)....because they would see it as a waste of time to do something deliberately that inaccurate and enter it in a regular category. Still, depending on the number of entries, it could still win.

 

2 hours ago, crimsyn1919 said:

As an aside, I am currently working on a P40 that I plan to paint bright pink.

I knew a pilot that flew...according to him....a bright pink P-40 in North Africa. The OD tended to fade in the sun. Still, it wasn't glossy or camouflaged with a second shade of pink. with pale pink undersides.

However, in dioramas, neat rubble is a question of craftsmanship because it falls under consistency, but it is also inaccurate. Blown up buildings do not set their debris in nice neat piles so the vehicle doesn't have to articulate its suspension. If you are not willing to do the needed work, then don't do the model that way.

Dak

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9 minutes ago, Dakimbrell said:

What we consider as good craftsmanship is based on what we consider accurate. Based on what I see win at events, this is simple truth. I fail to understand why this concept upsets some. The rules are clear and accuracy does count for some element of judging, but not all. Nor should it.

Good craftsmanship is separate from accuracy - or at least, most people tend to see it that way. If I have an extra antenna on a plane that that specific sub-variant of the real thing didn't have, that's an accuracy issue. If next to that antenna I have a big blob of glue on the canopy, that's a craftsmanship issue.

Besides, if what we consider to be good craftsmanship is based on accuracy, then that would preclude any judging of a lot of sci-fi and fantasy subjects as you can't say that "well, that's inaccurate because the real thing didn't have seam lines, glue blobs, nub marks, and messed up paint" because there is no real thing to compare it to.

The reason this concept is tricky for most people is because you are using a definition of "accuracy" that is not the same as the generally accepted definition, and which is conflating together what most people consider to be two separate concepts -- accuracy and craftsmanship.

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1 hour ago, crimsyn1919 said:

I have an extra antenna on a plane that that specific sub-variant of the real thing didn't have, that's an accuracy issue. If next to that antenna I have a big blob of glue on the canopy, that's a craftsmanship issue

An extra antenna is exactly the type of accuracy issue which is not and should not be judged. Time and again it has been shown various small changes cannot always be clearly documented. Also, research has shown changes to production did not come in clearly defined points. That is the point of not judging colors, and details.

A glob of glue is still also an accuracy issue. Most vehicles and aircraft do not usually have a big glob of glue holding on a part. This is both an accuracy and craftmanship issue. Jerry cans and packs do not magically attach to the side of tanks. They require rope, wire, and straps. To a certain point, craftmanship and accuracy go hand in hand. Such things as this are common sense accuracy points, like gravity. This is a point many like to pretend doesn't exist.

This is also an issue of consistency. If you construct a demolished building and yet leave a neat path for a vehicle, you have ignored consistency.

Dak

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A blob of glue is sloppy modeling, lousy craftsmanship, pure and simple! It is what eliminates an entry loooong before accuracy is even thought about in the judging process. Nick Filippone, Seniors National Judge 

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47 minutes ago, Nick Filippone said:

A blob of glue is sloppy modeling, lousy craftsmanship, pure and simple! It is what eliminates an entry loooong before accuracy is even thought about in the judging process. Nick Filippone, Seniors National Judge 

True and well said, but the glue glob is still a point of accuracy as well as craftsmanship.

You can argue the water rushing in a hole sank the ship or the torpedo making the hole sank the ship, but it is all related.

When you look at the big winners at an IPMS event, it is always a well built and highly accurate model.

Dak

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Think think  there's a lot of talking past each other here. One needs do no more than to attend the "What the Judges Look For" seminar to learn all you need.  The #1 thing is the Basics. As Nick said, can a blob of blue be seen? Are the wings of a plane level from sided to side? If you built a truck and the engine area has louvers, can you see right thru highlighting there's no engine? (Block it off.)  Are all the wheels/treads of the vehicle sitting squarely on the ground?  Is there cobwebs from being on the shelf too long in the cockpit?  Those are the strikes right there.

As far as details, unless it's changed in the last year or so, judges are not expected to be experts in the genres they are judging. Years a go there was a broo-haha when a judge eliminated an otherwise terrific model because the paint "wouldn't have faded to the color" that was on the model. Now they leave it up to the modeler to have done the research.  But if you want to paint a plane pink, which would attract the attention of any judge.  it would benefit you to have documentation showing the plane you modeled was pink. Same with the extra antenna that was mentioned. It costs almost no time to have an image printed out and have along side the entry showing that extra antenna.

It had also been said in the seminar, the more you add, the more you will be judged. For example if one guy adds all the seat belts to a plane, but has them in wrong, or upside down, whatever... and it's noticed,  that's a strike against the model. Where as the guy that didn't add seat belts and just built OOB, won't get a strike for not having them.  The same goes for the guy who builds a tank and has it pristine like it just came out of the factory. There's no strikes for no dirt. But if someone else added the dirt, and it looks good that's one up for the guy that did the extra work.

I can't say enuff about that "Look For" seminar. I think everyone should sit in on it at least every 3rd show or the like to refresh their memories. Plus the judges submit their own model flubs to the presentation, which shows that no one is always perfect.

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