Deke’s Techniques: The Photoshop Challenge Winners!

Last Tuesday marked the end of the first contest in Deke’s Techniques: The Challenge, which I called The Photoshop Challenge. In all, we accepted 12 submissions. And while that’s a small quantity, they more than made up for it in quality. A few in particular were quite compelling, not to mention entertaining. Which made me A) proud and B) irritable, because it made my job as a judge all that harder.

Fortunately, we have a crack team of industry-leading judges, every one of whom offered up their opinions, and some of whom provided thoughtful comments (as you’ll see). Every judge’s opinion (including my own) was given equal weight. We merely counted up the votes and determined the winners accordingly.

Grand Prize: It’s a Plaid Plaid World

Our Grand Prize winner by a 6-to-2 vote is Robin Schneider (Desdiner), who will receive $6300 in prizes, including Creative Suite 6: Design & Web Premium. In her honor, I employed her technique, “It’s a Plaid Plaid World,” to render the Clan McClelland tartan.

The Photoshop Challenge presents the Clan McClelland tartan

Why did she win? Well, I’ll tell ya.

First, Robin does a terrific job of introducing herself and explaining the reasoning behind the steps in her technique. Her style is natural and conversational, and the technique itself is flawless. The Warp step is especially impressive—I love the way the fabric folds over, as if rendered in 3D. I also like the way Robin establishes the base plaid pattern, adds the diagonal fabric lines, turns the cotton into wool, and dodges and burns to a separate neutral gray layer. Quite honestly, this is one of the best Photoshop tutorials I’ve seen. And it works exactly as advertised, as I can attest from spending about an hour creating the artwork above.

Of Robin’s video, judge Katrin Eismann muses, “Useful, clear,  articulate, and with some humor to keep things going!” John Nack writes:  “I was immediately taken with the quality of the output. It’s work I’d be proud to have done.” Bert Monroy gushes: “This is an excellent presentation! Her content is useful and fun to watch!” And Colleen Wheeler says, “Robin works with such confidence that I’m convinced I could do it too, even though the technique is amazingly intricate. This is the kind of thing that the pros steal from one another.”

Finalist #1: Over the Rainbow It’s Probably Snowing

As I mentioned, the judges split 6-to-2 for the Grand Prize. The guy who got the 2 Grand Prize votes, plus 5 more for Finalist, is Colin MacDonald (colinmac), who alternately added a rainbow and snow to the top of Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

What’s so great about Colin’s movie? He presents his technique clearly and succinctly (this guy’s a natural), plus he earns high marks for the quality of his audio. The steps are easy to follow and the final effect looks great. I visited Haleakala over Spring Break and it was plenty hot at the top. But Colin had me half believing that there could be snow there one day.

Judge Mordy Golding says Colin possesses an “authoritative voice that’s clear and easy to listen to. The snow was wonderful.” Bert Monroy says, “His presentation has multiple directions that play well together or can easily stand-alone. Very good!” And Colleen Wheeler quips, “Total bonus points for the mnemonic Command-D to ‘drop’ the selection.”

Finalist 2: We’re Having a BBQ

The votes were split on the second finalist, with a total of four contenders receiving at least one vote each. But after all votes were counted, the clear winner was Eric Renno, better known to many as TipSquirrel.

Eric warns us up front that he’s not a graphic designer. And yet his surprisingly ambitious composition conveys a kind of cartoon realism that reminds me of “Blues Clues.” His disarming style is at once charming and funny. Plus, he gets points for video editing, calling out both keyboard shortcuts and Deke’s Techniques references in graphic overlays.

Judge Mordy Golding says Eric “employed some great techniques and used the features well.” Colleen Wheeler added, “Eric’s humor was charming, and that great combination of self-deprication and self-amusement that is in the true spirit of Deke’s Techniques.” And I say, kudos for an entertaining romp.

Honorable (No Prize) Mentions

By way of the honored but not adorned, here are a couple of other comments: Of Chris (resdog) Klongpayabal’s “Thunderstruck,” Bert Monroy says, “His delivery is clear and shows a knowledge of what he is talking about.” And of Jessica (jessicadianeartist) Kastlunger’s Rainbow Eyes, Katrin Eismann says, “I liked that she used the menus, which is very good for beginners.” The other vote-getter was “Change Your View” by Harry Guiness (harryguinness), which was a favorite of mine as well.

Congratulations to everyone! And get to work on Deke’s Techniques: The Illustrator Challenge, for which the list of prizes has recently sweetened with the addition of Astute Graphics, makers of DrawScribe and VectorScribe for Adobe Illustrator.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 152: Drawing a Perfect Linear Spiral in Illustrator

Previous entry:Deke’s Techniques 151: Creating a Screen Print Effect in Photoshop

  • Congratulations

    Congrats to to all the winners!

  • This must have been tough to

    This must have been tough to chose!  All of the entries were extremely qualifying.  Congratulations to everyone who entered!  Special congratulations to the winners!

    Thanks to Deke and the judges for a neat challenge.


  • Deke Technique references?

    First of all, Congrats to the winners!  Superb job. Nice work!

    I do have a question though about Robin’s winning entry. It was terrific, great technique, excellent pacing, nice effect, a worthy winner to be sure. But I did not see any references to 3 Deke’s Techniques. Wasn’t that the whole point of the contest? Or were the techniques portrayed in the video aligned with a DT but it just wasn’t stated?

  • She did reference in the comments

    #28 Seamlessly repeating patterns
    #62 Adding a magnifying glass

    #81 Rotating a pattern layer in Photoshop.

  • Thanks!

    Cool. I didn’t see her comments, thanks for the response.

  • Hey, Deke

    About a week ago you said that I would win a special prize for being the first entry in this contest. Is this true? If so, awesome!

  • Plaid Plaid World

    was fantastic!  Great job Robin.  DP

  • Plaid

    Great tut Robin, I guess the girls take all the Gold this year and there is no reason why you shouldn’t earn the gold for photoshoping. Your tut was ease to follow and do and all familure techniques we have seen.


  • Thank you for this tutorial robin :)

    i was looking for this, because i wanna make a new layout for my page and i would like to use this texture idea :)

  • Yes, we’re keeping a list

    Of folks who will be getting special prizes. We’ll give those out at the very end.

  • Lovely and mind blowing

    Lovely and mind blowing work.

    deco wood

  • Thank you Deke!!!!

    I just want to send you a big thank you and I’d hug you if I could.  As a result of the visibility I gained from entering your Deke’s Techniques- Challenge I am so excited and proud to announce that my first tutorial went live this week. It’s called Illustrator for Fashion Design, Drawing Flats.

    As I was sitting in the recording studio looking at the black egg crate foam I equate with your tutorials, one phrase kept popping into my head “Let me show you exactly, how it works” (OK, that wasn’t the only one, the other was “Please don’t ***k this up”).

    I can’t thank you enough for this opportunity and I hope I did you proud.

    Big Hug!!!!!

    Robin Schneider aka:Desdiner