Card challenge end: winners, prizes, aftermath

Here we go, peeps! The challenge is over and I'm proud of all of you for participating. I hope you learned something from what you made, and from the other contestants as well (God knows it sucks when you have the "I must surpass someone else" mindset 8D ).

I'm guessing you've already seen the winners, but I felt the need to post the judging here as well. Here are some of my thoughts on the contest:
1. I feel posting this is an honest critique on my behalf because I didn't want anyone complaining that they didn't know why they won/didn't win.
2. Oh yeah, you'd be downright dumb if you thought I judged with personal relationships in mind.
3. I chose to leave the last 3 spots open because there's no point in saying X is last. That's negative thinking right there! D:<
4a. IMPORTANT: I've decided to give the contestants a prize as well. Therefore, you have the right to ask for 2 free scans from Animepaper.Net and 2 free scans from (4 free scans total)
4b. Display times have also been modified: all three submissions who won places 1, 2 and 3 will be featured in this World's intro until April 2011 (that means 5 and a half months, starting now).
5. Everyone: PM me so we can talk about the prizes as soon as you can :3

IMPORTANT EDIT: Prizes are subject to change; if you want something else (say, all scans from AP or MT), let me know. We'll talk it over and see what we can do.

Contestant #1: Angel Zakuro [Second Place]
Entry: concentration.
What I liked: The font art just screamed at me from the moment I saw the card. I like the variation in using fonts, and you chose ones that don't look out of place. Also love the colors and hearts on the bottom since they give a vibrant look and I like those types of images.
What I didn't like: The stripe texture is kind of distracting and makes some parts look jaggy (such as the guy on the left's hair). Would look better with a lower opacity.
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Contestant #2: ClairInWonderland [First Place]
Entry: Might
What I liked: OK, so this concept is as old as time itself, but your interpretation works. Love the focus on the green parts and the high quality. Even though textures were used, the card still looks crisp and clear and I like that. Keeping it simple was a wise choice and the clarity is so high I first mistook it for a vector (no, really). Typography is a big plus because you emphasized the second part of the saying using a stronger font than the first half.
What I didn't like: Hmm, can't quite place my finger on it... Maybe try upping the black/white contrast a bit? Not much to say here, really.
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Contestant #3: babydensity [Third Place]
Entry: A Silent Ballet
What I liked: Lovely background, and thumbs up for making it yourself! The text placement is also something different from the "norm" and reminds me of those "dramatic" movie trailers. I like how you also enhanced the contrast and colors.
What I didn't like: The image is a bit grainy, as if it were enlarged from a smaller scan. A little cleaning might help with this.
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Contestant #4: SaxGirl [place intentionally unspecified]
Entry: Our Farewell?
What I liked: Monochrome! Black&white + red = monochrome love. I like the font choices on the left as well, and how you made the image look old and worn; I've seen this scan used tons of times but never as you did!
What I didn't like: The effects on the text on the bottom ("Farewell"). I understand you wanted to make it stand out from the rest of the text, but outer glow and embossing aren't really adequate (what I mean is that they are very easy to use and, like the dreaded Lens Flare, look bad 90% of the time). Also, choose another font next time, one that looks more "swirly" and elegant; this one looks too much like those every computer has. And don't be afraid to use contrast, I bet this would look lovely with a higher contrast.
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Contestant #5: Support KIRA [place intentionally unspecified]
What I liked: Typography: both placement and choice of fonts. Also, the blending of the two scans; if you hadn't mentioned it in the description, I would've thought it was a single image.
What I didn't like: It's too plain. Aside from the text (which is good), there's not much to comment on. I don't see anything that would make this pop out from the rest. Use some lighting effects, brushes, textures, the possibilities are endless! It's not all in blending images, really, even if it's done right.
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Contestant #6: 1dev13 [place intentionally unspecified]
Entry: Winter of D e s p a i r
What I liked: The fonts you used and the overall colors. Since winter is approaching, cold colors are appropriate and I like how you used them here.
What I didn't like: You using red for part of the text. Complimentary colors are a no-no unless you have something eye-catching, like pop art. The atmosphere here is tranquil, so you should have used a color from what you already had in the card. Second, it's hard to make the scan out; try to use less brushes next time and instead go for a cleaner look or, if you prefer the grunge style, think how you can work with it in order to emphasize your base image.
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