Every little thing the competitors did had to be magical for the judges of Ink Master in episode 9.
God and the devil lived together in a session that challenged the artists' attention to detail.
Deanna Smith, a tattoo artist based out of Denton's Dark Age Tattoo Studio on the Square, got the judges' respect with her first tattoo of the episode. Her second tattoo, though, disappointed them and sent her to the bottom.
The flash challenge: Details, details. Each artist was to ink a tattoo inspired by their canvas's chief female inspiration. All of the clients were women with a story, and each wanted a tattoo inspired by it. Some of the women had served in the military, others had record of public service or survived cancer.
"I rocked on my own as a strong lady," Smith said of her tattoo — a world map imposed on the dome of a skull. Judge Chris Nunez agreed. "I think this is your shining moment," he said. Team Steve's Roly took the winning spot in the challenge with his tattoo of combat boots surrounded by flowers.
The Elimination Challenge: The artists had to create "Technicolor hot air balloons," personalized to each canvas, of course. This was the challenge that taught viewers that the skin of the armpit swells quickly when tattooed, and that inking a rib cage is tricky.
Smith got one of the toughest requests of the episode — a steampunk hot air balloon in space. (Steampunk tends to be not-so-technicolor.) Her illustration skills were strong, as usual, but judges Oliver Peck, Chris Nunez and Dave Navarro seemed swayed by Coach Steve Tefft's insistence that Smith overworked her canvas on the basket portion and caused skin trauma.
Team Anthony: Juan Salgado, Daniel Silva, Amanda Leitch and Jason Elliott are on coach Anthony Michaels' team.
Team DJ: Deanna Smith, Josh Payne and Frank Ready are inking tattoos under the leadership of coach DJ Tambe.
Team Steve: Jeremy Brown, Roly T-Rex, Fame, and Jeremy Brown make up the underdog team led by Steve Tefft.
Who won top tattoo of the episode: Josh Payne. The decision irked some of the competitors who groused about him changing the client's original request for a hot air balloon basket that was a compass. But the judges loved his piece, two whales aloft with a balloon.
Who inked their final tat: Amanda Leitch. The judges found her line work far too light for the weight of the balloon she drew (freehand, rather than with the typical stencil).
Brass ring: $100,000, the title of Ink Master and a feature in Inked magazine.
Ink Master airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday on the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV).