While there is no way that we could hope to get everyone to agree on the exact specifications for painting quality, this post hopes to explain the general brackets used on this site if you are looking for a certain level of quality to your models.
It should go without saying that as the painting level increases, so will the price and time it takes an artist to achieve that level so make sure you consider that in your hunt for a suitable artist to do work for you.
This site use three categories to help folks find an artist that does the level of work they might be looking for. It does you no good to have to sift through Golden Demon stuff if you're looking for tabletop quality work.
The categories have been deliberately limited to three and the explanations are designed to get you started. As you go through and look at individual artists work, you'll find certain qualities and techniques offered by each one.
This is your basic base color with a single highlight and a shading added to it along with complete basing. Most of your details are picked out at this level. It's going to look good from a distance as it sits on the table. There's nothing wrong with this category at all and this is where most of us have our own models painted up to.
Above Tabletop Quality
Here's where you're going to have your tabletop level that has a few extra highlights and a bit more shading to it. You might fond some additional things like freehand and more of the finer details picked out. You wouldn't be surprised to have some advanced techniques applied to the model at this level either. The basing should also be complete.
Golden Demon Level
This is the top of the top. This is where you find all the advanced techniques seen on the models winning all the awards each year. You're talking about layer upon layer of fine blending and shading, complex color schemes, advanced basing... you name it, it's in this category.