1. aishiteru: best couple/shipping/romantic icon
basically you can nominate any icon that depicts a romantic or sexual relationship between two characters. the couple doesn't have to be canon, it can be het, shounen-ai, shoujo-ai, whatever you want, as long as it has to do with love (you know, the characters are hugging, kissing, looking at each other longingly, they may be not even looking at each other as long as there's SOMETHING, like text for example, that suggests a romantic relationship between them). don't just nominate any icon with two characters in it. also, think about it very carefully when nominating an icon that depicts a one-sided love affair-- it might work better in the "emotional icons" section.
2. sweatdrop: best funny icon
this category's pretty self-explanatory, yeah. just make sure you know the difference between an icon that pokes fun at a certain character and an icon that's character-bashing. we don't want to offend anyone here.
3. best emotional icon
this is where you nominate icons depicting a strong emotion. people usually go for really sad icons, like where the characters are crying or something along those lines, but remember that sadness is not the only strong emotion: there's anger, shock, happiness... just as long as it's not a "romantic" icon, it will probably fit well here.
4. best cropping
you crop an image when you take a part of the main focus of the icon out of the icon and only focus on a certain other part. for example, you have an image of your favorite character which you want to make into an icon; well, you rotate it somehow and set your character to the side and it turns out half of his/her face ends up not showing in the icon-- this allows you to focus on other parts like your character's eyes, or cheeks, or stuff like that. THAT is good cropping. it is NOT considered good cropping if you just move your main focus around (as in, you don't leave it in the center) but the whole of the character can still be seen in the icon. i know it's hard to understand-- if you need examples, check out this tutorial by lollobrigida, i'm sure you'll get it then.
5. mahou: best use of color
if you see coloring in an icon that you think is awesome, go ahead and nom it here. colored manga icons count too, as long as it was the icon-maker the one who colored the thing and he/she didn't just crop an already-colored manga scan. manga characters that have been pasted over a colorful background and then worked on can be accepted, however be very careful, because if they don't show any more work than just taking the character out of the manga scan and pasting it on a background the icon-maker just downloaded from someone else, they might be rejected. it is up to the mods to decide whether the nomination is valid or not. please DO NOT nominate black and white icons with only a splash of color (b&w except for the eyes, or for the lips, or for the clothes, or just under the text), those belong in the black and white category.
6. best black and white icon
as the name says, any icon that's black and white-- not necessarily manga, it could be an anime b&w icon. icons with just a little splash of color are also accepted.
7. best use of text
here you nominate icons that have exceptionally aesthetically pleasing text design, placing or if the text in the icon fits exceptionally well with the image. please don't nominate funny text icons here-- we're going for lyrical, quote and such. the text might even have nothing to do with a song or a quote as long as it inspires in us the feelings the icon was meant to portray. please DO NOT nominate icons containing only "tiny text" or text brushes in this category-- the idea is that the icon-maker put thought into the text and didn't just download it from someone else.
8. best textless icon
this category includes any icon that has no text in it. tiny text also counts, anything as long as it's not readable by most people.
9. best animated icon
this is pretty self-explanatory, too. ANY animated icon should first be considered for this category-- EVEN if it's emotional, EVEN if it's black and white, EVEN if it's textless. animation has preference over any other detail in the icon when it comes to nominating.
10. special category
every week a different topic will be chosen by the mods to fit in this category. it can be series-specific: "best karekano icons" or something along those lines; it can be gender/race/group-specific: "icons of girls," "mecha icons;" it can basically be anything the mods come up with, and it will be better explained in each special category post. please keep in mind that the previous categories take precedence over this one... for example, if the special category is "best fullmetal alchemist icons," and you have a FMA icon that you think is awesome because of the way it's colored, then consider nominating it in the colouring category BEFORE you consider nominating it in this one.
11. best overall icon
just what the name says-- one icon that stands out of the rest, and not only because it has good coloring, or because the cropping is awesome, or because the text is neatly placed-- nop, it has to exceed in all the previous categories, or at least in most of them. EVERYTHING about the icon must be good or better than good. needless to say, leave this category for LAST.
if you have any questions, or would like to suggest a name for any of the categories, feel free to leave a comment in this post.