What are the most prestigious painting awards?
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Thread: What are the most prestigious painting awards?

  1. #1

    Default What are the most prestigious painting awards?

    I was curious what do people think are the 'big' awards in the mini-painting hobby? For years winning a Golden Demon or a slayer sword was a huge deal. Now that those shows have essentially vanished from all over except England, what has filled its place? Or has anything filled its place? Yes, a Golden Demon is still a big deal, but not everyone is going to travel to England to compete. So while those awards were once widely available, now a much smaller number of people compete for them.

    I know in Europe there are some big shows like Euro Militaire and many others, but do people view those awards in the same way? For North America, I feel like there are many smaller more local or regional shows, but not much that has a national or international following. The only thing that comes to mind here are the Crystal Brush awards.

    One of the strengths that the Golden Demons had were that, at least to me, it seemed like they were recognized both by serious painters but also by regular gamers. Are any of the euro awards, Crystal Brush, etc viewed as a big deal by both the painting and gaming side of the hobby?

    (By the way, I'm not implying gamers don't paint or don't taking painting seriously. I'm just trying to distinguish between people who are into miniatures primarily for painting and competing in painting contests and those who are into miniatures primarily for gaming and gaming tournaments.)

  2. #2


    I suppose not so much though to be fair Salute is run by a gaming society and it has a very large venue with thousands attending and there is a reasonably prestigious painting competition not in the same ball park as euro but it still attracts the big names. So for a combo Salute. I don't mean to be Euro centric but most of the big big comps are here Monte, Hussar, Euro millitaire obviously and the tail end of GD.

    This has always puzzled me as why not the states? I mean the birth place of d and d you've got big name painters like yourself and CMON is based there I mean you've got all this and a population four times that of the U.K. Why don't you have four or five big comps? You have the interest the talent and the wherewithal so why not? Not at all being disrespectful to the US I will be forever grateful for D20 games and I cut my teeth on reaper minis just a genuine question.
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  3. #3


    I don't know which would be considered the most prestigious. I guess that would depend on what part of the hobby holds the most interest for you. First place $10,000 payday from Crystal Brush is most likely the top prize in the US so I guess that would make it number one. ReaperCon has more entries with over 400, so that is probably the biggest.

    My first entry will most likely be the Miniature Figure Collectors of America, King of Prussa PA in May. From what I understand, the rules are different from your typical competition. This is from their site:

    The Exhibits are judged using an open system with a variable number of Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals. Although awards are presented, there is not direct competition and MFCA maintains that the show is primarily an exhibit of modeler's art, with no winners or losers. All exhibits in a specific level are reviewed on an equal basis and those pieces which employ outstanding examples of artistic merit and craftsmanship are awarded. "
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  4. #4


    I can't speak to the gaming crowd everywhere, but in my area it seems to break down like this: GW gamers - Golden Demons are the be all end all of painting awards, most don't know any other comp. exists (except for local store run ones). WarmaHordes players - again Golden Demons, most don't even know Warmachine Grand Masters is a thing.

    In my very limited knowledge of the subject, having attended only two Crystal Brushes and nothing else, but seeing pictures from many competitions around the world, it seems like the biggest are Monte San Savino, Euro Militaire and Hussar. They seem to regularly draw the best in the world.

  5. #5


    Yeah, in the US there is a bit of a disconnect between the gaming centered competitions (like Crystal Brush, Gencon, etc) and the pure art shows like MFCA (and SCAHMS, NCMSS, LIHMCS, AMFS, etc). Many of those pure art shows have been around for decades, but the attendees are often more focused on historical figures. Meanwhile the gaming centered competitions are more focused on fantasy and sci-fi. Yes, you have all types of figures at both sorts of competitions. But for some reason the audiences of each aren't really aware of the other. For example, the MMSI show is in Chicago each year and run by their historical figure group. The Crystal Brush is also in Chicago but I don't think many (if any) from the MMSI group came to it. At times I feel like I'm one of the few that's really involved in both sides of the US painting community. I wish the US painters were a more cohesive group, but I'm not sure how to fix that.

    Meanwhile in Europe it seems like the painting community is much more united. People may still have their preferences on figures, but the community at least recognizes each other. At least that's my impression, I don't know for sure since I'm over here in the US.

    CMON is helping, though I don't think the painting community is their main focus. The Crystal Brush is huge and they have teamed up with smaller competitions do offer Crystal Brush Qualifier awards. It's great that they do that, but I think the focus is more on promoting Crystal Brush rather than developing more painting competitions. Another group here that's working hard to develop painting competitions are the guys at WGC and the Draconic Awards. They've teamed up with a bunch of tournaments (mostly out west, but some on the east coast too) and are creating a circuit of painting events. They're working hard to bring in both gamers and competition painters. Right now the shows are still small and mostly local events. If they continue to grow (which I hope they do), they could very easily fill the gap left by Golden Demon. However, they still have a long way to go. Other than that, you've got Reapercon, Gencon, CMON Expo, etc. But winning a trophy at those just doesn't seem to have the same weight as winning a Golden Demon.

  6. #6


    Most people of a certain age were introduced to the hobby by GW, and golden demon is theirs so as Bailey says for a long time gamers had only heard of it.

    It's only when you get seriously into painting you realise there are other VERY high standard competitions all over the world.

    Maybe now that GD is only back in the UK it will make the demon more prestigious than before seeing that there more top painters fighting over them?
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ten ball View Post
    Maybe now that GD is only back in the UK it will make the demon more prestigious than before seeing that there more top painters fighting over them?
    I'm not going to hold my breath on that Lee.
    Don't forget Golden Deamon is a "One trick pony" show being only a GW product showcase.
    Euro, Monte San Savino showcase talent not product.
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  8. #8


    World Expo would be the biggest thing, I'd say.
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  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by Ritual View Post
    World Expo would be the biggest thing, I'd say.

    Overall winner is a big deal in any of these competitions I think.

    Shame they cheapened the Slayer Sword, it used to be a very nice sword.

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Bailey03 View Post
    Meanwhile in Europe it seems like the painting community is much more united. People may still have their preferences on figures, but the community at least recognizes each other. At least that's my impression, I don't know for sure since I'm over here in the US.
    It's not completely without friction over here. Most of the long-running competitions have a background firmly in historical and military modelling and there still is some grumbling going on with some people about letting fantasy in. When Chris Clayton won BoS at Euromilitaire a few years ago, the first and still only time a fantasy piece has won, there were some people getting quite upset about it. But, I think this becomes less and less of a problem. And also, the younger competitions have mixed historical and fantasy from the beginning and I don't think anyone complains about that (well, SOMEONE probably complains, there's always someone...).

    @MrJim: The Open system for judging is quite common! A lot of the competitions over here use it, or as with Euromilitaire, something similar. And, of course, it is used at World Expo! Shep Paine was a champion of the Open System and also one of the founders of World Expo. I think it is a very good system. When you have dozens of insanely good entries, deciding that one is worth gold, one silver and one bronze really doesn't make sense to me. With the Open system there will never be anything negative about more good painters entering as it will not affect your own chances of winning (except for the BoS, of course). You can just enjoy everyone's work without feeling that it lessens your own chances. And the judges will not have to come up with some contrived reason why one flawless entry is just that bit more flawless than the others.

    Another good thing about the Open system is that it's usually not a load of categories. You have categories like Historical, Historical Master (higher standard for people who have won awards before), Historical Open (for scratchbuilt or heavily converted stuff) and then the same for Fantasy. I think there are categories for junior painters as well, and categories for vehicle models and such. But you pick your level and enter one or several miniatures as a display. You either get judged on your stand-out piece or, if everything is judged to be at the same level, your whole display. Of course you can enter more than one category, but not Standard Historical or Fantasy if you also enter Master.
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  11. #11


    It seems like there is a bit of a generational divide in the painting community. The older crowd is more focused on historical figures while the younger crowd is more into the fantasy and sci-fi ones. It's clearly not 100%, there are plenty of counter examples and many of the professional/big name painters do both types. But I'm guessing it's the cause for the divide in the US and the friction you're talking about. I think the reason for the shift in genres is largely due to what sort of entertainment we experienced growing up. My parents generation had westerns and WWII movies. I grew up with Star Wars and D&D. Of course the why is beside the point. The important thing is if the shows, clubs, forums, etc with more of a historical focus don't embrace the fantasy/sci-fi side of the hobby, then they're not going to continue to grow and will start to shrink.

    My experience with these historical focused groups in the US is that they are generally open to fantasy/sci-fi figures. The SCAHMS group in LA seem happy to have them on the display table and, for the first time, gave a fantasy collection best of show at their show last year. However, I also feel like they don't go out of their way to attract those people. If I hadn't run into Damon at Adepticon last year, he probably wouldn't have heard about the SCAHMS group or come to the show (and won best in show).

  12. #12


    (shameless plug,...) C'mon,.. what could be more prestigious then winning one of Webmonkey's Challenges????
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  13. #13


    I feel this is a rational debate so what I can say is at 42 years of age,and 26 years in the painting craft. Mostly in the competitive side of things....the MOST prestigious awards are very simply THE COMPS THAT ARE ATTENDED BY over 32 world famous artisans like this recent crystal brush..there is no debate when a ton of talented artist and the top 20-30 peaople attend leaving no chance to the others to earn any awards.so right up there with GOLDEN DEMON,MONTE SAVINO,WORLD EXPO....ITS simply put the comps that draw a HUUUGE array of the best and most professional in the trade.so I really feel sometime or another contests are low in attendance and then there are times its high in attendance by amazing painters and modellers. Even Jose Manuel palomares said there are many competitions he's been to ,won,judged but he's never expected this turnout by so many amazingly talented artists...he said he was glad he was judging and not competing...so my answer is logical and rational ...ITS ALL OF THEM AT SOME POINT OR ANOTHER !!! and yes webmonkeys is right up there.
    Last edited by BloodASmedium; 04-07-2016 at 07:58 PM.

  14. #14


    Very true. I can honestly say I've won three Crystal Brushes but nothing from Webmonkey's challenges. So which does that tell you is the tougher competition?

    I think what Jen and the other people working at the Crystal Brush have done in the past few years is institute a high standard across all categories. As a result, if you win a trophy there, it's due to a good piece and not just no one else entering the category. It wasn't like that 3-4 years ago, but I think that change was a good move. And if they keep bringing in a big crowd from across the pond, then those awards are only going to get more prestigious. My curiosity about them is do other people view them that way or is it just those of us who frequent CMON? If you talk with people on other forums and shows, do they even know the show exists?

  15. #15


    with the GD's gone (except in uk), all larger competitions in Europe except salute and hussar are all judged by the open system. personally, i like when there is only one gold, silver, bronze to fight about. it give the competitions more nerve. i guess im just into the exact opposite to Ritual, i like the lots of different categories ;P

  16. #16


    I agree. There was a while were I preferred open system. But now I feel like the tougher only one first, second, third per category inspires me to push myself more. Of course, seems like some of the euro shows are still very tough to get gold even if they're open system, so I'd still find those interesting.

    I appreciate that there is a mix, some open and some podium style. But personally, I'm more interested in podium style at this moment.

  17. #17


    It seems that the competitions with many categories are the ones with roots in miniature gaming and the categories are somewhat connected to gaming mechanisms. To me, as someone who never played a single game, that seems a bit random. I much prefer the Open system that way.

    Again, Euromilitaire is a bit odd, as it has quite a lot of categories. But it's got its own system.

    It is still difficult to get awards in the Open system, especially in prestigious competitions. You really have to earn them and the standards are constantly rising, so you can't get too relaxed if you have won a previous year.
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  18. #18


    while i get your point Anders, it doesnt have to be like that. Salute for example is very vague about rules for different categories making a lot of possibilities. and just look at rustos "regiment" win at crystal brush, not exactly game related and this would also make a legit entry for salute and hussar.

    GD is another story though.

    for open judging its so much about luck with judges, especially when you trying to develop a style a little bit different. example, for Duke of bavaria (germanys premium event) Roman lappat & co judged me a Silver. exact same miniatures lineup judged by Raffa & co in monte got me a nothing.

  19. #19


    Levels between competitions will always vary and there will always be a certain degree of subjectivity involved in judging, regardless of the judging system. There are no set rules about what constitutes good painting, and I think we should be happy about that or everyone would start painting the same way. But surely, you'll not necessarily be getting the same award for the same entry in different competitions.
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  20. #20


    indeed you are correct.

    to make another example what i find a bit boring with open system was at duke. there was so many great displays of miniatures, and then a *nonamed* painter had entered just a single 32mm miniature on a slotta base. nothing advanced but i guess technically perfectly painted so it was awarded a gold. i honestly dont think 90% at the people at the event even noticed it was there at all. now, is that an prestigious award?
    Last edited by SkelettetS; 04-08-2016 at 07:11 AM.

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