If you want to boost your artwork production (and particularly for fringe areas lacking illustrations, such as Taphria) you might want to consider launching various concept artwork contests, where anyone may enter with everything from a quick sketch, through a blueprint, a cosmological mandala artwork or cryptic diagram, to an inked or painted illustration. If you feel like it, then just include a paragraph whereby entering the contest, entrants give T9A right to use their artwork as it sees fit, or by entering everyone and their grandmother may use the artwork, so better put your signature on it if you want to get future credit. Or something in that vein. Lawyer's language.
Overall, it seems that contests, and particularly contests with prizes, drum up extra efforts among some members by giving them a common goal to contend for and an excuse to dabble with this or that project which they otherwise might not have tackled. Contests are a good way to harness creative energies.
Such official T9A contests ought to be announced on the front page, aside from any potential forum announcement. You might wish to ponder whether to launch separate/parallel army specific contests, or keep it centralized in one big string of competitions which generally keeps the theme open to any and all armies (including completely original faction designs by the members themselves, e.g. fishmen), or perhaps cycle through armies, regions, themes (e.g. battle, camp life, duel, magic, exploration, flight). You might want to experiment with both variants, or something else completely, and see what garners most interest.
You might also wish to drop a sticky-thread in the Company section where miniature companies can contact some contest organizer for prize donations. Perhaps keep a record of all such donations in the said thread, first post. Ideally you'd have at least one miniature prize for each contest, but one can run without prizes if need be. Just remember, that whoever organizes the contest don't vote himself, but keeps back his vote in case some awkward tie pops up.
Onward, you'd ideally want to have a Hall of Fame gallery for contest winners, bronze-silver-gold, as well, easily visible in some frontpage manner. Not a must, but a neat extra feature which makes the piled-up work of contests into a compiled resource in and of itself for T9A site. Just make sure it's not a pain in the neck to update; keep it smooth, or else ignore if it is too much of a hassle to bother with. Also, always link to the entries, in effect the voting threads, for each contest in any potential Hall of Fame gallery or compilation thread.
Obviously, contests for painting/modelling miniatures and contests for background/story writing (or even wacky homebrew rules writing contests?) could be of interest for T9A to run somewhat regularly, in due time.
Oh, and always whip up a contest banner. It draws the eye and make it look more interesting!
Here is an example of what an artwork competition may produce, and here is another. A few samples:
Comps are fun occasions, produce lots of wacky and neat stuff and gives the community some focal point where those who wish can pour their energies in something of a desktop Olympic spirit.
And for the record, I'm simply looking at what long-established features of Chaos Dwarfs Online might suit T9A. CDO has for its entire time been a hotbed of creativity, thanks to being dedicated to a niche army left out in the cold. Chaos Dwarf collectors had to fence for themselves and get creative, and they succeeded very well indeed: There are some design elements in FW's CD range which obviously were inspired by some creations or artworks on CDO (such as horned bull centaurs, hexagonal scalemail).
Now that the entire Warhammer fantasy community has been thrown into the same spot as Chaos Dwarf collectors has stood in for years on end, it's natural to look to what the CD folk came up with to keep the embers hot and flesh out their orphaned archetype in ever more depth and detail.
_________________I can help you write together a template for contests to make it run much by copy-paste for whoever handles it, and I'll also volunteer to handle at least a couple of contests (if temporary mod powers is necessary to not have the contest host having to rely on asking others for help with setting stuff up, then so be it; I'm only a Staff member on CDO to help run contests). Just say the word, but I'd rather know there is team interest in this before writing a draft (brainstorming and idea sharing like this is quick 'n' fun, rulesy writing is tedious and slow): Please tell.
Likewise, if modelling/miniature & scenery painting competitions would be desired, then that may be discussed here as well if you want. But if one was to choose only one kind of contest to further the cause of the Ninth Age, then it would be artwork competitions. Illustrations and lack thereof are what makes or breaks quality content!
Some cautionary notes on having too strict limits in contests. Modelling competitions below, copy-pasted from Chaos Dwarfs Online, but you can easily see how it may apply to art contests as well. Note that T9A should not enforce legal basing if it is to run modelling competitions, even though we have such a strict system in place (naturally, given the rules). Modelling and painting contests should be all about the models, and not whether they fit legally into any specific wargame, not even our own. Of course, that doesn't stop the AoS grudge from making people vote less for round bases (seen that happen, but human nature is what it is).
One feature of developments in wargaming in later years have been the manifold ways of basing (in particular Kings of War's diorama-inviting regiment bases & round bases in Age of Sigmar), which kicked the legs out from under the old CDO rules revolving around Warhammer Fantasy base standards.
I know there have been some rows unnecessarily over base limits in previous contests, and it would seem we lost the splendid hobbyist in long-time member GRNDL over Hellcannon base measurements, the original contest limits of which weren't even exceeded as noted by Nicodemus.
For better and worse, one underlying tendency in CDO contests have been to micromanage limits and control in detail to achieve fairness across the board. When picking up contests in 2014, I studied our previous competitions and tried to keep up continuity, while experimenting and allowing for rules changes when called for. It's all been tinkering done on the fly, and things have slowly changed through this process.
One trend that has been constant through the competitions I've run, is launching a seemingly well-defined theme, and then having one or more of our many creative members come up with some take that straddles the limits of said theme, but in the final analysis should be let in. Confer e.g. change from artillery slaves to warmachine slaves in one contest (that particular theme was entirely experimental, by the way).
Likewise, The_Penguin is a member who was into vignettes when he last posted, and thus had no use for bases. What did it matter if he entered a miniature without a base?
All things taking together, basing in contests have been loosened, indeed even cut loose as of GH XXX.
There is no longer any wargaming rationale behind asking for e.g. square or round bases, or certain measurements of bases for various unit types. Many people will still keep basing reasonable as regards wargames, since they will adher to whatever standards happen to be in place for whatever rule systems they play. Yet as to those who choose a base not for sake of wargaming strictures but for modelling aesthetics, or those who eschew bases altogether? Why would it matter for us to cut them out or force them to adapt to base standards against their honest hobby interests?
Indeed, why would we want to discourage people from making dioramas if that is what they want to do? Dioramas are laboursome visual spectacles, and wouldn't we want to see more of those for our evil midgets? With Kings of War on the scene, dioramas are even baked into regiments nowadays.
This infantry character model may have been disqualified from past Golden Hats.
There has been a well-intended chase for fairness and level playing-field in contests, aye, in days past there has even been a chase for promoting Chaos Dwarfs as a respectable force to be established as a serious army list complete with base formalities in place (and CDO, as we know, crowned this across-the-board effort when Forgeworld released Throne of Tamurkhan).
Yet I know from observations and firsthand experience that this philosophy has occassionally sown strife, or discouraged members from entering, or forced them to rebase something after the contest because their entry wasn't based the way they themselves wanted the model to be.
All this, while what we're all really looking for in contests is a good excuse for people to break out their paintbrushes and get creative in fun competition. :hat off
As you can see, limits on basing are gone. Starting with Golden Hat XXX, being an open theme, we'll also try out allowing plinths and display bases if anyone would like to go the extra length. While running contrary to established Chaos Dwarfs Online practice, it would seem to be in our interest to allow people to create really polished entries - such gems further the cause of Chaos Dwarfs, as we all know well from Golden Demon!
We're also open to all scales. Anyone wanting to enter Warmaster, 15mm or 52mm scale Chaos Dwarfs are welcome to do so. Interest in such niche scales is so small that it would not be sensible to run specific, rare competitions just for oddscale models.
Finally, an art-theme Artisan's Contest is now an annual event. Generates drawings, sketches and paintings, among the the most valuable material we can hope for.