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DIORAMA VS VIGNETTE


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Have we ever reached a general consensus as to what makes a vignette instead of a diorama, or does it even matter? Here are some items to consider.

Dak

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Hi David,

Love your stuff.

The rules pretty much spell it out:

Vignette (Small Composition) = single craft, no more than 5 figures

Diorama (Large Composition) = 2 or more craft and/or more than 5 figures

Based on that all of these would fit the Vignette category except, probably, the first one.  I would say 2 camels = 2 craft plus there is a lot of action so a decent storyline would put that in Dioramas.

Also, the Cape Buffalo could be entered in Figures though I don't see anything specific in that category which means it would probably end up in Miscellaneous.

The Fork lift would be a good Vignette but could also be entered in the Automotive - Commercial Vehicles - Light Commercial category.

The Motorcycle could be entered in the Motorcycle category.

The Pershing would probably end up in Vignettes.

This is how I would do it and since I judge the Dioramas and Misc classes, someone might actually listen to my opinion.

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So, we are simply calling small comp a vignette. Ok. Although, I had not thought of the camels as a vehicle. To me they are just a figure. Two humans and two camels. Still small comp figure. 
Dak

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I attended a show in CT a while back, and they had a Vignette category. It was the first time I even saw that category.  FWIW their definition was no more than 3 figures on landscaping. Being so small, it wouldn't have to tell a story. So I guess 2 or 3 guys simply standing in a grassy field would qualify.

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The way I always understood the definitions of "Diorama" and "Vignette" is that a Diorama tells a distinct story, something that can be told well to the viewer. A Vignette is a "snapshot" in time, showing the participants caught in a story without telling the story they are "participating" in.

 

Bottom line:

Vignette is like a photograph taken with a camera of someone or a group of someones posing.

Diorama is like a video showing something happening.

 

And yes, I know someone is going to explain that photographs taken can also tell a story while vids can show a bunch of people standing around without telling a story (especially the earliest ones) but a good 95% of photos and vids are as I described above. I know someone is gonna miss that last statement...

 

It doesn't really matter those definitions anyway as there is only a nod toward the idea of a story in the Rules, but no firm definition listed. Furthermore, everyone is different: one person looking at a group pose can see a story while another can only see the display. That is the nature of People in general.

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My interest in this question was sparked by the 2022 National category list. In aircraft, there are two "Vignettes".

I've been used to calling things large or small comp. So, I see we are now starting to refer small comp as vignettes which is fine. I do a lot of vignettes because I always have a figure with the model, but like Mark said, they don't always tell a big story.

The Ducati motorcycle is a perfect example. I definitely want the figure judged as part of the scene. The bike itself doesn't have the finish to compete in the main motorcycle class. It was done to be an old beat-up ride.

That the camels are vehicles and not figures, I would argue about now that I have had time to think about it. They are live animals which would make them figures. So, that puts them in 730.

I had planned the Buffalo for Miscellaneous.

The HB W.12 and Caudron shown here are both soft dioramas--i.e. no dramatic story. The W.12 will go in Bi-planes 103B, but the Caudron will go in 710B.

Dak

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Here are some of the rules around Vignettes/Dioramas.

The addition of any other figures or equipment outside or not attached to the model (e.g., support equipment, shell splashes, or buildings) will make the model a Vignette or Diorama, which must then be entered in the proper Diorama category (see Rule 19, below). So, if you want to compete in a single-subject category, don’t make a Vignette to see how far you can push the boundary! 

Any vehicle entry that has more than basic groundwork will be defined as a Vignette (see Rule 19, below), and will be transferred to the appropriate Category for judging there. Any model entered into an AFV category that is displayed upon a base, permanently or temporarily, may have no more than two (2) figures in total and the figure(s) must be a crew member; only one (1) figure may be affixed to the base off the vehicle; a second figure must be affixed to or within the vehicle model. If there are more than two figures total, the entry will be defined as a Vignette, and will be transferred to the appropriate Category for judging there. 

19. Dioramas – Vignettes. In Classes I through IV, the number of subjects (vehicles and/or figures) will determine in which category an entry is placed. Entries with no more than five (5) figures and/or a single vehicle subject will be placed into the Small Composition or Vignette categories. Entries with two or more vehicles and/or more than five figures will be placed into the Large Composition or Diorama categories. Dioramas are story-centric, specifically built to tell a story or convey a message. Storyline will be considered equally to construction and finish of the individual subjects, figures, and other presentation components; a technically well-done diorama with a weak story line will be at a disadvantage to one with a strong storyline. Vignettes may also tell a story, or may simply depict a ‘moment in time/location’.

A previous national contest winner may be used as part of a diorama, so long as it is not the primary focus of the diorama. 

So a storyline is still the focus on a better diorama.

And while a single vehicle in a setting without figures can be a Vignette it can also be a Diorama.  I always look at Shep Paine's "The Lady Be Good" diorama as a strong visage of this.  While there are no figures, just a wrecked and abandoned aircraft, the story is strong and even more so if you know the story.  Sometimes a good title helps sell that story.

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Yes, I’ve read the rules many times. A float plane setting in water is in its natural environment and the two crewmen are on the plane so it should be good in bi-planes. 
 

Dak

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Well, as long as the same criteria is applied to other models, moving the W.12 is fine. But I’ve had stuff moved before when similar stuff wasn’t. 

Dak

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DAK

             It's up to you where you want the W.12. If you want it in 103 I'll let it stay there, just know that the only thing judged will be the actual aircraft. It's not in the entrants best interest to move something with a weak story. Why penalize them if that's how they wanted to display their model. 

 

Jim

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Guys, this is not my first rodeo. Like everyone, I like to spread my entries out to get the best chances of a win. I rarely do a prize cow (stand-alone) model, so I have to push the edge of rules a little. However, from the start, I endeavor to play by the rules instead of standing around whining about how unfair they are.

This does raise an issue. I do models with figures, but many aren't much on story. The M1A2 is an excellent example. I put two figures in the turret; I like my figures and I would like them judged as part of the model just as someone else would like the stowage (packs, boxes, ammo, water bottles, and banana peels) judged. They are definitely part of my skill level. However, to do that means it must go into dioramas, but it is too weak on a story to win. 

It seems a bit unfair to penalize those who add figures to the models by forcing them into dioramas.

Dak

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Huh, thought I submitted this last night but must have forgot to hit the button.

I can't remember seeing an aircraft with figures being moved into Dioramas at least during the shows I have judged at.  Military vehicles get moved all the time including ones with no scenic base and even no base at all but too many figures on the vehicle.  Really they have no chance in Dioramas.  With solid Vignette categories they at least have a chance, if they have a base.

The new rules seem to support that the seaplane should stay in the Aircraft category if that is where you enter it and as Jim has said, that will be the case.

"Aircraft and military vehicles may rest on simulated ground or paving, and aircraft that need beaching gear or dollies may be so equipped. Ships may be displayed in water (no dry docks). The base must not be the predominant feature of the entry and must be of a size proportionate to the model. The Contest Chairman and Judges reserve the right to exclude oversize bases. The model may include primary crew figures (see Rule 15, immediately below, for limits for Military Vehicles). The addition of any other figures or equipment outside or not attached to the model (e.g., support equipment, shell splashes, or buildings) will make the model a Vignette or Diorama, which must then be entered in the proper Diorama category."

Dave,

I am really curious why the rule was implemented in the Military Vehicles categories that caused the limitation in number and placement of figures.  In every other contest that I have judged we ignore the figures if the model is entered in a vehicle category (Aircraft, Armor, Auto, Ship and Sci-Fi), same with any bases.  If you want the figures judged as part of the entry then the Abrams would have to move to Vignettes.

More than likely there was some stink put up by a contestant(s) about an armor entry winning over another because their figures were better or something.  But this rule was in place when I started judging at the National level.  It would be great if an Armor judge had the inside scoop on what caused the rule.

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The event that got the rules changed was an APC with a full load of troops, but in the regular modern armor category. And I am in agreement with that action. 
 

While yes, I would like the figures judged, I don’t want the tank put in vignettes because there is no story to speak of, which is important to those vignette and diorama categories. 
 

I am merely observing we exclude judging figures on a model, but not gear like bed rolls, jerry cans, food boxes, etc. Why are figures different? Because some past entrants complained it was “unfair” for them to have to compete against a model with figures. What is unfair about that?

But what makes a figure different from a bed roll? Why is it ok to judge the bed roll and not the tank crewmen? Why is it ok to judge a bomb or missile, but not the pilot? 
 

I am saying the figures on a model are part of it and should be judged in the same way you would judge anything added to the equipment. An entrant should not have to enter diorama just to get a well done figure judged along with the model.

This is not a disagreement with what makes an entry a vignette or diorama.

Dak

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David,

Hmm, the difference between a figure and a bedroll is pretty easy.  Most people can make a bedroll look ok (even me on occasion) but painting figures to look good is an art unto itself.  I can't tell you the number of modelers who refuse to include a figure because they lack that skill.

Taking that into consideration, how would you take that into judging criteria.  Say you have two tanks, booth done very well with similar errors but one has a decently painted figure.  The category is Tanks not Tanks with crews.  That is why I support the "ignore the figures" aspect of it.  Could a new category for Vehicles with Crews be created?  Now there is an idea.  I would say there are enough entries each year at Nats that would qualify for that kind of category.  But now you have to have judges who can judge vehicles and figures and decide which portion has the best chance.  When you compare an OK halftrack with some great figures vs a great tank with some mediocre figures, who gets the nod?

Saying that, I wonder what Mark and Dave would think of that idea?

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Phil, et al,

First, let me make clear I am not discussing the diorama rules. I think they are basically fine.

You are over thinking the situation. I am just saying if the figures are on the model or with it on the base, (as defined by the rules) they should be judged as part of the model. We don't need special judges; plenty of people judge categories they aren't expert in building. Lots of models with a figure don't tell a story or depict an action and would never win in dioramas.

Years back, some people complained it was not fair for them to compete against a model with figures. Certainly, adding the figure is part of the skill level, but you don't have to be a master figure painter to put one or two figures on the model. While adding figures adds detail, it also increases the chance of screwing it up. It can be a plus, or minus, just like adding any detail. A pilot, tank commander, and driver in a car are all just part of the model.

If fairness is the issue, then why should I have to compete with car models that have been buffed to a super finish? Skill level, that is why. If the entrant doesn't want to add figures to the model, they don't have to do so, but those who choose to add figures are merely bumping the skill level up a notch, which is what we have always done.

That accessories are somehow "different" from figures is a weak argument. As you can see in the pictures, the stowage items are molded in clusters and require careful painting as much as any figure. These items are made by a figure maker using the same resin. The only difference is the figure depicts a person. Yet, all these pieces would be judged at the contest. If a person has the skills to paint them realistically and neatly, they can also do a figure. Would you exclude these details from being judged?

Adding all of this stuff to a vehicle or bombs and missiles to an airplane are things that are NOT part of the basic model. All could be left off and the model judged bare bones. If the figure is simply seen as part of the model, there is no more problem judging it than any other accessory. This is something with which judges have always had to deal. That's why we several--to reach a consensus.

In armor, we already have Closed top AFV categories. There are few figures, if any, in these areas. We always look for the work that went the extra step and did it well. Now days we see a lot of models with lighting effects. In a few years there will probably be a need to create a special category for them. But right now, we lesser mortals have to compete with them. Time changes things.

 

Dak

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I get what you are saying but I have always been taught to not judge figures unless they are entered in the Figures or Dioramas categories.  Not saying that because we always have is the best answer but I think it works.

Actually, to be honest, I seldom have had to judge bedrolls either.  Most Military vehicles loose out due to basic modeling flaws just like ever other category.  Wonky wheels, seamlines on guns, over weathering to cover basic construction flaws (just kidding, seeing if anyone besides you and me is paying attention 😜).  Seldom does it get down to how well the add-ons are done.  If needed I am more likely to be checking if they are secured to the vehicle or just glued on, etc.  That might be the deciding factor if we get down to a couple of really great builds but other than that, not so much.

I am kind of like you in that I like a figure or 2 to help set a sense of scale and add some life to the build but most guys who build tanks, planes, cars, ships, Gundams, etc. are just interested in the vehicles themselves and that is what the main categories seem to be designed to cater to.  I personally would like to see some consistency around the rule in other categories.  I mean, 2 guys on a tank on a scenic base needs to be moved but 100+ little guys wandering around on a ship in a water setting can stay in Ships? 

If you want to get changes made to the rules, contact the NCC.  That is what I did earlier this year with a request to add more Vignette Categories to accommodate some of the stuff that gets moved during the show and that happened.  I don't know if they were talking about it before I sent Mark my email or not but they are in place for this year.

Looking forward to seeing you at the show and we can definitely chat more about this. 

Edited by philp
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My contention is that a figure(s) on the model---tank commander, pilot, driver, etc.---are no different than the other items placed on the model. You say most are not interested in doing figures, but the same people will add extra gear and weapons. This is all extra stuff which is not directly part of the model. I can think of dozens of little extras people add which no one thinks as odd but put a figure in the mix and someone will start yelling "unfair".

No one "judges" bedrolls and bombs, on a model, in themselves. However, it you put the sidewinder on crooked or have decal film showing on the bomb, it will be judged. If the paint or glue on the bedroll and jerry cans is bad, it will hurt the model. What makes a figure any different?

Yes, that is the way we have done it for the past forty years, but why? A figure is basically no different than any other accessory. I agree, lots of figures can turn the model into a diorama. The current rules for that are fine and cover that well. But why should an entrant be penalized by having part of his work ignored or forcing him into a diorama class when it is just a pilot in the cockpit? A figure on a model can be judged the same way you would any other detail added to the basic model.

This all got started when some complained about entries which were in effect dioramas were enter in main categories. There was an over-reaction, just like with bases and now figures are seen as some mystical magic thing which will give you an unfair edge.

You are right that this should be taken up with the NCC and I will have to put this before them for future consideration. I started this thread only to find out what we were calling vignettes and dioramas because the rules do not clearly show a distinction.

Dak

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