Deke’s Techniques: The Anything Goes Challenge Winners!

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!

My heartfelt appreciation to our panel of illustrious judges, our fine team of generous sponsors, and especially my intrepid contestants, meaning you.

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!

The four winners of Deke's Techniques: The Anything Goes Challenge

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.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 87: Cloning Yourself in Photoshop

Previous entry:Deke’s Techniques 86: Creating the Perfect Facebook Cover in Photoshop


  • Awesome Contest!!!

    Thanks so much to the judges for giving their time for this contest, the sponsors for providing amazing prizes, and most of all to Deke, for hosting this competition. It was a fun experience.

    I’m all about numbers and how things work out. From being the number 2 guy (2nd place in the finals, all my submissions were the second submitted), to having 3 people (Desdiner, rajerthat and myself) entering all 3 contests, to having a tutorial on MATH win the anything goes contest - I’d say the real winners are the numbers.

    Great job, everyone!

  • Fantastic!

    While I’m sad about not having the creative suite delivered for free to my door (who wouldn’t be?), I can’t argue at all with the decisions.  This is a collection of amazing videos and I’m quite honored to have mine among them.  My thanks to everyone for the contest, the judging, and the brilliant entries.  It was a fantastic experience.  I’m not sure what happened with the early audio, though, but oh well. It still seems to be functional if a little less elegant.  (In case you were wondering, the answer is yes, I did take the 10 minute limitation as a challenge to see how much I could intelligibly fit in there.)

    No worries about stealing from me, Deke.  You’ve taught me a lot—I’m perfectly happy to return the favor!

  • I had my eye on the Wacom tablet myself…

    Been itching to try my hand at using a pen tablet (I’ve never had one).  Looks like I’ll have to find another way to get a pen tablet. However, lots of other cool prizes await and I must say that it was fun to learn a new tool (Camtasia) and get my creative juices flowing!

  • Sweet!

    These were some very nice tutorials and added a few tips and techniques to my bag of tricks. Thanks everyone and congrats again the the very deserving winners!

  • Tablets

    Oh, you’ll absolutely love the tablet when you do get one.  I have an older one (Intuos 2) that I got used when they were the current generation and it’s held up through all sorts of use and abuse.  So don’t be afraid to buy one from someone else if the opportunity arises, especially an Intuos 4.  The Intuos 5 didn’t add anything in the way of basic features, more just neat optional stuff.  The only challenge I have with mine is finding new nibs if I need them (now that it’s 10 years old they don’t stock them any more).  It doesn’t have all the shiny extras that the new ones have, but it’s got the truly important features and I’d never want to go back to working without it.

    I enjoyed learning to use Camtasia too!  I’m going to have to come up with some good unusual uses for it—I’ve also learned that I enjoy making people say, “I didn’t know you could use (feature) that way…”

  • Math and Adobe

    The content entry Photoshop Math is the winner!

    This entry shows how you can use Illustrator and Photoshop, AND learn kids and grown ups math. This is exciting. This is a possible use of TV - for the millions of illerate kids and grownups - who desperatly seek education, but can not afford it.

    A guy from South-Africa who has been making televion education accessible to every poor person - by drawing numbers and explaining math to people is this guy.

    Please, Deke - and Adobe: Send him a free license for Adobe!

    His name?

  • Congrats to all of you folks!

    Two days after, I steal can’t believe it. I won. All entries made by skilled Adobe professionals are amazing, congrats to all of you folks. 
    Deke, you taught me everything I now about PS, I’ve learned from you how to be an excellent video trainer, I even ”stole” your one-on-one (my free online academy logo contains 1:1), and from now on I’ll darken my graph paper background like you did (looks more natural and professional). Thank you for helping me teach more than 100.000 Serbian kids, thank you for being so inspired. I bow to you.

  • Just a bit of feedback

    I realize that the judges are experienced users but I am not. I love to learn from Deke and from everyone that entered these contests.
    Having said that, the winner is amazing with his presentation and use of Photoshop. The first finalist also did some amazing things that I found very useful even though I am not a football fan.
    The second finalist as a different story. While I watched the video I saw some amazing things appear, things I would be able to use in my own compositions. However, I couldn’t understand most of what was said. I heard it but it went so fast and every sentence ran into the next one. I couldn’t tell what went with what.
    Come on judges. How can someone be a finalist with a presentation like that. You need to be an expert in the programs to understand and follow what is being done. I thought this was a contest to show training skills.

    Please don’t take this wrong. I really like the textures that were created and I will go back and try some of the things she presented. If I can figure them out visually.

  • Feedback taken

    Hi Fudge.  While I’m not the judges, I am the second finalist.

    I know that I can often be difficult to understand.  Believe it or not, that’s actually significantly slower than my normal speaking voice.  While I appreciate knowing that it’s more challenging to follow for less experienced users, I think questioning the validity of the award is unnecessary.  I think anyone who sees it is aware that improvements were possible, and as the video’s creator I can assure you that no one is more acutely aware of its failings than I am.  It’s worthwhile to remember that the judges are not the only ones reading the comments here and that derisive statements about someone’s work can be hurtful.  Constructive criticism works better for everyone.

    Please do understand, too, that I’m not disagreeing with your point in general.  There were a number of areas where I could have gone in to more detail about what I was doing and why, and I will absolutely keep that in mind for any future video tutorials that I make.

    That said, I did change something that I hope will help you (and that I’d been putting off, so thank you for the motivation to finish the task).  The video now has closed captions, which will make it much easier to follow along with what I’m saying.  To view them, click the “CC” button on the YouTube video.  It’s a little bit right of center on the bottom bar.  Also, if you’ve got any specific questions, you can ask me via the YouTube comments or you can reach me at (my user name on this site) @—I’m happy to help with anything that I’m able to.

  • Congrats to All!

    A big Congrats to all who contributed. Making these videos is a lot harder than it looks.

    I learned something new from every video, and have been sending out links to many of my fellow Adobe users-even to a few math teachers(who loved Sasa’s video BTW)

    The final video was definitely a personal challenge to see how much I could squeeze into 10 minutes with a nod to as many fellow contestants as possible. Stacey, if your video had been posted sooner I would have included it on a shirt as well - it would have put my pause button to good use, but would have been well worth it. :0)

    I am honored to be part of this talented group and to have had the opportunity to show my stuff to an amazing panel of judges who(whom?) I so admire. 

    Deke- thanks for posting some of the judge’s quotes along with your own comments. Made my week!

    You all rock!!!!!

    Twas Brillig


  • Congrats!

    Congrats to the winners, especially Sasa!

    It was truly a trial by fire to even get to the entry point, but it was a lot of fun. It encouraged me not to be lazy, and I’ve come up with a lot of ideas for future projects. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I don’t know. The only part I didn’t enjoy was speaking into the microphone. I guess I’m struggling to find my voice, both literally and figuratively. 

    I did show a cardioid animation in my (theoretical) “director’s cut” video. Maybe a future Deke’s Technique? Or you can just look on the Wikipedia page if that suffices.

    And all my peacock research went to waste! raspberry

  • I’m so flattered to have

    I’m so flattered to have made it into your video! You made some really awesome videos and deserve major props for doing so many videos. I learned a lot from all of them smile

  • very inspiring


    only with photoshop can get something big. once again congratulations. This inspired me to develop my hobby.

  • Photoshop can do miracles.

    Photoshop can do miracles. There are many applications that will make your simple art look different and innovative.

  • A new challenge?

    So when do we get to do this again? I want a Challenge Redux now that we’ve had some time to polish our collective educating skills!

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