In all, we received 12 entries for Deke’s Techniques: The Anything Goes Challenge. As was the case for the previous Photoshop and Illustrator Challenges, the entries are exceptional. And I have to tell you, it’s truly astounding how much I’ve learned in the course of watching these videos, even when some of you are racing to come in right at 10 minutes. Plus, you’re all so damn entertaining. You know that I know this isn’t easy. And yet you guys rose to The Challenge and did a terrific job!
This time around, I am happy to announce a total of four winners, including one Grand Prize and three Finalists. Here they are:
Grand Prize: Photoshop for Math
Saša Popović (sasa) doesn’t claim to be a designer. Far from it, he’s a math teacher. And yet he uses Photoshop in about the most distinctive way I’ve seen, as a simple and practical way to record math tutorial videos, “free of advanced editing.” Saša will receive $6800 in prizes, including Creative Suite 6: Design & Web Premium. In his honor, I created the following variation on his graph paper technique, which also happens to highlight each of the three Finalists. And just check out that equation at the bottom. As Saša himself will tell you, it’s accurate!
Why did Saša and the others win? Well, I’ll tell ya.
As some of you may know, my college education consists of a B.A. with a double major in fine art and mathematics. So even though I’ve forgotten the vast majority of it these days, I still get pretty excited when I see math. When Saša shows how to calculate the surface area of a geometric shape, even with the edits, you know you’re in the hands of a skilled practician. It’s all so clearly expressed, complete with real-time annotations! Then he switches over to Microsoft Word—one of those programs we all love to hate—formats an equation (I didn’t even know Word had an equation editor), and brings it into Photoshop as a PDF file. He demonstrates a breezy mastery of layer comps. And finally, he shows how to switch between a bevy of foreground colors from the keyboard. Saša may not exactly be one of us, but he is clearly well versed with our tools. And he’s a fantastic teacher.
Saša captured the judges’ affection as well. Katrin Eismann says, “Saša makes me want to go back to school! I wish more teachers were this engaging and honest.” Russell Brown adds, “His style of teaching and the character in his voice won me over.” And Michael Ninness writes, “Looks like this is going to be a landslide victory for Saša.” Yep, looks like it!
Finalist #1: Asphalt and Astro Turf
The guy with the next-most votes is Chris Klongpayabal (resdog). Which makes me exceedingly happy. This is Chris’s third entry, having secured the honor of a no-prize fourth place in the previous two contests. But this time, he nails the 1st Finalist position with a 9-minute 58-second movie that combines two techniques in one. Chris transitions effortlessly from one compelling piece of art to another (“Let’s move from the blacktop to the gridiron”) and he does a great job of explaining his movements every step along the way. Plus, his movie features the only quote (“Now we need to make some noise”) that was purposely referenced by another contestant.
Of Chris’s video, Bert Monroy writes, “This technique is great. Plus the fact Chris changes the outcome so easily shows the versatility of his approach.” Russell Brown says, “Chris has a wonderful energy in his voice. And I really like the quality of his demo.” And Colleen Wheeler chimes in, “Chris did a great job of steering a few Deke’s Techniques in a direction Deke would never think to take them, namely football.”
Finalist #2: Textures and Swivels
Stacey Kaminski (iconoplast) flies through so much so fast that it’s sometimes difficult to follow her. And if I’m not mistaken, the audio is out of sync for the first few minutes of the movie. But even so, I for one was captivated. In slightly less than 10 minutes, Stacey tosses off at least a half-dozen techniques that I have never seen anyone employ in my many years in this business. Her initial brush textures alone are a gold mine. (I will be stealing from you, Stacey, never fear!) Every once in a while—as when we are rushed to the Illustrator Cave—Stacey gets so positively goofy that you have to laugh, despite the fact that she is otherwise relentlessly jamming one graphic idea after another into your brain to the point you almost want to cry. If you can follow it, there’s enough in this movie to fill an entire hour-long chapter. Not to mention the best use of the Wrinkle tool ever.
Of Stacey’s movie, Colleen Wheeler writes, “Seriously, this woman has mad skills! And she demonstrates so many techniques, you can’t help but take away one or two of them, no matter how well you know the programs.”
Finalist #3: Inspiration is Everywhere
Robin Schneider (Desdiner) took away the Grand Prize for The Photoshop Challenge. And now she finishes this contest with a movie that is, at least, every bit as good. Robin’s movie is so damn smart, clever, entertaining, and just plain good that it took everything in me not to give her another Grand Prize. (Fortunately, Saša’s hexagonal prism was too good to ignore—that thing could totally work in a design!) And she forgoes referencing any of my Deke’s Techniques by incorporating several of the movies previously submitted for this contest, including Chris’s very recent Anything Goes entry. Which in her words “should cover at least 20 of Deke’s videos.” Meanwhile, Robin’s design sense is impeccable and her approach is spot-on. Plus, I learned a lot. And after all, what’s the point of hosting a contest like this if I can’t grow a little wiser with the rest of you?
Bert Monroy says, “Robin has a good pace and covers a lot of ground without getting too complex and losing the audience.” And Mordy Golding writes, “I was really happy to see how Robin integrated examples from the other contestants.” I couldn’t agree more.
Congratulations to all the winners. And thanks to all who contributed. Whether you received a prize or not, you made this contest a success. Take it from me, you helped us all stay on top of our respective games by sharing your knowledge and expertise.