Hi, I think too that people should use which colour they like for metall in competition. It is away to show artistic skills. I would prefer TMM over NMM, because I am only able painting NMM and love seeing miniatures with TMM like the wonderful armour you did.
Maybe one day I will learn painting TMM like you…
OK regarding your miniature I think you did it the right way not using freehands. There is only one open surface for freehand: the inner part of the cape. When you would paint a freehand than the miniature would be not silent. (I mean that freehand would be too much).
Your howle composition is great. Sorry: I dislike the birch leaves. There are better things. The birchleaves do not equall the level of your project. They pull all down.
I think for example plusmodell makes better leaves.
Best wishes to you