Photoshop Top 40: The Contest Results

Myyyy Photoshop, myyyy Photoshop, Top 40! Okay, so actually, it’s the Top 3. That is, the Top 3 entries in our recent Photoshop Top 40: The Contest. I asked you to create a magnificent piece of artwork that celebrates no fewer than three of the features from my Photoshop Top 40 podcast. Happily, your response was overwhelming. Sadly, your response was overwhelming on Christmas Eve, while I and my sidekick Colleen were with our children. But eventually, we found time to review all 146 enthusiastically submitted entries. (Thank you, by the way! Nothing gets us going like a hot contest!)  From that, and with great difficulty, we have selected three winners.

I promised our choices would be purely subjective. And they are. But subjected to the things we love: Photoshop craftsmanship and creative ingenuity. And, go figure, we liked pieces that celebrated the theme of the contest, Photoshop Top 40. In other words, good art direction trumped precise execution, although our winners showed some mad skills.

Don’t think for a moment that we took this task lightly. We spent hours winnowing down the list. We started by selecting what we considered to be the Top 4 submissions. (I take this Top 4 business very seriously!) From that we selected the Best 12, which I will document here. And then, very reluctantly, we leveled the proverbial axe on all but the final three.

That said, here are the winners. (If you won, please email your full name, shipping address, and phone number to

Grand Prize:

The Olympus E-62, free Premium subscription to, 30-day Premium subscription to, signed copies of three CS4 One-on-One books, dekePod t-shirt, and two Martini Hour glasses go to . . .

dekeLine, submitted by member MD (known in real life as Martin Dörsch).

Photoshop Top 4
(Click the image for full-res.)

We selected this image for five reasons: It’s beautifully designed, it’s impeccably rendered, it celebrates the theme, it’s high res, and it cleverly integrates the names of the features that Martin used to create the artwork. I also like the fact that dekes lacks an apostrophe. But thats me.


The free Annual subscription to, $100 in credits from, signed copies of three CS4 One-on-One books, dekePod t-shirt, and two Martini Hour glasses go to . . .

Martini, submitted by member MarcG (known in the actual world as Marc Gaudet).

(Click the image for full-res.)

This image turned into a topic of some debate. Member draken3d (who, I should say, liked the comp) quite rightly made the point that the background is low-res when compared with the other elements. But the design and composition are spot on. I regard this as a sketch for a beautiful composition. And as any working designer will tell you, the sketch is where the magic happens. Plus Marc submitted a layered PSD file, which showed his worked. (Not a requirement, but it swayed our opinions.)

Honorable Mention

The free Monthly subscription to, $50 in credits from, signed copy of one CS4 One-on-One book, dekePod t-shirt, and two Martini Hour glasses go to . . .

Holiday Flowers, submitted by member Michael Brunsfeld.

(Click the image for full-res.)

Like Martin and Marc, Michael’s name begins with an M. (As does his gender.) But that’s not why we chose his piece. This was easily the most distinctive submission, and it uniquely shows off the power of Photoshop. Plus, it’s a bit self-deprecating. As Michael wrote, “I think my wife looks lovely, but I look completely off my rocker.” Alas, Michael, artists often do.

The Other 9

Okay, so much for the lucky winners. Now for the rest. Colleen and I are absolutely haunted by the remaining 9 in the Best 12. Did we really choose the Top 3? Or were some Other 3 more deserving? Although it won’t make any difference, that’s up to you to decide. While they receive no prizes (other than our respect and high praise) here they are, in the order they were posted:

Odyssey, submitted by member nickgreenaway: Dude, your skills are on fire. You don’t need my prizes. You’ll earn a living easy.

Shadow Edge, submitted by member c-monsta: I love everything about this, from the high-key model to the G. I. Joe-derived poster. When’s the movie come out?

The Man, submitted by member trudolph: The dreaded Man is rendered in every bit as much detail as his hapless victims. You execution is exquisite!

Lady in Thought, submitted by member nanderton: Both Colleen and I fell in love with this image. What a beautiful model, what a great photograph, what excellent work.

Why Did You Place Me on This Background, submitted by member macg. Such angst, such anxiety! And yet, our tormented model looks very much at home in his new environment. A composition I’d be proud to create.

The Knife Thrower’s Assistant, submitted by member jfrancis. Joe runs an extremely informative blog at digital Artform. As if to prove his chops, his comps are out of control, as witnessed by the following. Plus, it’s rated PG.

Winter Survival, submitted by member JDalool. Oh g-g-goodness, this has been a cold Winter in Boulder, Colorado. But one look at this image, and suddenly I feel warm. Even my tummy.

My Dream, submitted by member Lolka. In college I double-majored in math and art. And this image employs both math and art! Plus, it documents the specific prize (Honorable Mention) that Lolka was hoping to receive. If only everyone was so easy to please!

Circus, submitted by member stevecoda. How can you not admire a composition that includes me in clown shoes, Colleen in clown makeup, and a miniature blue elephant casting a shadow in the wrong direction? I love it!

To the other 134 of you, my most sincere thanks for your submissions. You died on the vast plain of Photoshop Top 40: The Contest, but I chant over your sacred remains. While I cannot comment on every one of your submissions (this post took me 5 hours!!), I can tell you this: You rock, keep trying, and keep being you.

Next entry:Photoshop Top 40, Feature #16: Adjustment Layers

Previous entry:Warmest Wishes for the Holiday Season


  • Sorry, temporarily had comments disabled

    Now they’re back on.

  • Photoshop Top 40

    it’d probably be easier to crop and paste the pieces you want from the original to a new pic.
    But if you want to do it via css then you got it pretty much figured out already.

    You may need to add a break between each line to get it to render in 9 seperate pieces…......

  • Congratulations to all the winners!

    And thank you for including me in the Best 12. I’m flattered!

    Circus was one of my favourites - with a supersized Deke!

  • Watch out next contest

    Somehow I knew I wasnt going to win. I knew Deke loves graphic art and I spotted the people who had good chances.

    That being said, watch out next contest… I’ve got my eye on you! smile

    Congratulations to the winner and everybody who participated!!!!!

  • Congrats to everyone

    Great choices on the winners, and thanks for having a killer contest for all the top 40 fans

  • haha hello y’all from London Town

    haha deke i love your pearls of wisdom there rather amusing, i feel the warm glow from your comment and shall cherish it always!

  • Congrats MD, and Thanks…

    Congratulations MD, that is a really nice job, and thank you Deke and Collen for choosing my piece as runner up, I’m honored.

    Marc Gaudet

  • Congratulation Guys .... It’s a real Gallery of Artist

    Failed to win the Contest but learned some important things (From Deke & My Friends)

    1- Understand your Client… and the Purpose of Submittal

    2- Contest is Minor ... Life is Major .... Keep Going Because you’ll never Fail

    3- I Need to spend more effort and enhance my skills to compete with my Gurus.

    Again Congratulations (M)s .... your work Rocks!

    See you on the Next Contest

    Black Seals ... White Reveals…!

  • Great work is great

    congrats everyone!

  • Congratulations

    To the winners; well earned!!!  As for my compadres in the bottom 130, loved all your entries; keep up the good work and I look forward to the next contest.  I have improved a lot since the Martini Hour contest, and may even make the top 10 next time…. who knows, but it is fun trying in any case!

    I need to unpack, wife and I just got to the resort for some after Christmas R&R.  I hope you all have a great and prosperous New Year!

    Deke, Colleen and crew, keep up the outstanding work; you are a credit to the industry!

  • Good sports all around!

    I’m so gratified to see such an amazing spirit of camaraderie among the comments. Even when folks admit that they’re feeling somewhat catty, they go and end the post with something magnanimous. Catty is human, magnanimous is evolved.

    Meanwhile, I look and the contest entries and think, hmm, these are better than a lot of my crap.

    More to come . . . contests and crap.

  • Nice snaps. Fits for offline

    Nice snaps. Fits for offline viewing as well.

  • Congratulations to all the winners!

    congratulation guys…I missed this this one maybe next time.


  • Congratulations to you guys,,,

    Congratulations guys.. I missed this one ...maybe next time.


  • Just ... great!

    Hi to all!

    I’m glad that my graphic was chosen for the grand prize!

    If you are interested in the creation - I try to submit a “how to” in the next few days at my blog. I just have a cold and lying in the bed. So I need some time to power up again.

    I really saw a lot of great work in this contest and I’m looking forward to the next one.

    Best regards from Austria!


  • So many good entries!

    I’m glad I didn’t have to judge them all. Congrats to all the winners, well done!

    Thanks Deke and Colleen for all the great podcasts and this wonderful contest.


  • dekeLine - the steps

    dekeLine - the steps

    The description is online now at

    The language is german, but I think you can see the steps.

    Best regards from Austria



  • Well deserved…

    The submission by Martin Dörsch is design at its finest. Well worth a look at full resolution.

    I am more partial to photography and couldn’t help but admire “Woman in thought”.

  • WOW!

    Great entries. The winners are very inspirational. And Deke you do have cool contests. Have some more!



  • Top 40 #15

    Hey Deke….something bad wrong with #15…..very, very very slow all others ok….


    William L. (Frank) Collins

  • dekeLine - Tutorial


    As Lolka said, It’s absolutely right that I have used Chris Spooners tutorial as an inspiration. But I think tutorials are here to inspire people.

    So to proof that I know the applications and that my graphic is made by myself, I created a tutorial of my creation. I made a similar artwork from scratch and recorded all steps.


    Original Files:

    At my blog ( you can download the source files.

    So have fun and I’m sure that there are some new techniques to learn for everyone.

    Best regards!


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