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.
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.