First off, thank you to everyone who signed on and voted for the Crystal Brush entries. The competition was great and the level of quality for all the pieces was really high. I was incredibly pleased to receive a gold for both my Knight of the Holy Sepulchre and my Saxon Raider. But, better than that, was getting to meet a bunch of my friends from the figure forums. Here's a group photo from the awards ceremony of myself, Derek (fluisterwoud), John (BloodASmedium), and Katie (Sionid). Congratulations to John and Katie who both took home an impressive load of trophies.
It was also great to meet some of our painting idols. I had a really nice chat with Ben Komets, a super nice friendly guy. Here he is hanging out with John. Ben's piece, the orc pirate diorama 'High Noon' took 1st place in the diorama category and 2nd overall. As technically beautiful as the 1st place winner was, Ben's piece had so much going on and a whole lot more heart in it. I would have been very happy to see that take the top prize. Both were deserving but unfortunately only one could win.
Okay, getting back to the entries. Here are the display cases with all the pieces. I got this shot before the hall opened, that was the only way since during normal hours there was always a crowd around the cases admiring all the work.
And a little closer look at one of the cases. You can see some work from Khonner, Fluisterwoud, and Sionid on the top shelf. The overall first place is right there in the middle, the huge space marine.
Another one of my favorite pieces was Danse Macabre, a delicate and beautiful piece using Kingdom Death's Flower Witch. This piece took 2nd in large scale and 3rd overall.
And here are a few other pictures...
The event organizers ran into a bit of trouble with the internet voting. For Crystal Brush half the score is decided by the judges and the other half by popular vote. To do this they have to photograph all of the entries and post them online for everyone to weigh in. Unfortunately, a bunch of entries coming in just before the deadline (noon on Saturday) and some technical glitches caused a long delay in the start of the internet voting. Voting was supposed to start around 1 pm Saturday but it didn't begin until around 1 am. No one was happy about the delay, but it was clear the Crystal Brush team was working really hard to get it all together. This year they also made a first cut and only those pieces were eligible for internet voting. There were a few strange choices, for example the historical single category had 7 or 8 entries but that was cut down to only 2. I understand making a cut, but why not 3 or 4? I'm thinking this was partially influenced by all the issues with getting the photos setup for voting. There have been complaints in previous years that the quality of the winners in different categories varied wildly, so maybe it's an effort to keep the standards high for every category.
There are some definite pros for making a first cut. Number one, it make the internet voting much easier as there were far fewer pieces to go through and everything that was there was really good. And it does keep the standards more consistent across the categories. My main complaint is that it was not well communicated to the contestants. Most of us have been preparing for this competition for months. I see that now the first round cut is mentioned on the website, but I do not recall seeing anything about it months ago when I referring to the site for rules and category specifics. Maybe it was there and I just missed it, but it took me and a lot of my fellow painters by surprise. When they make changes in the rules/judging from year to year, it would be nice if there was something on the website highlighting those changes. Maybe it was just an oversight on my part, but it seemed like a lot of people were confused by the missing pieces. But, next year we'll know!
So, while there were a few minor problems, overall it was a great event. Lots of good entries, good people, and the official photos came out awesome. I hope to be back next year and regularly after that. If you did not see the official photos, here is a link to all of the winners
And you can see all of the first cut piece here. The site shuffles the entries, so it's easier to browse by category rather than look at all of them at once. When you click on the next page they shuffle and you can miss pieces that way. It's also interesting to click 'select order' and then 'score (descending)' to see how the pieces ranked beyond 1, 2, 3.