Photoshop Top 40: The Final 10 Contest

For those unaware, Photoshop Top 40 is my countdown of the most essential features in Photoshop, starting with Feature #40: Reset & Purge and working my way up to #1. And lest you think it sounds like a trivial concept (“hey gang, Feature #38 is Vector Type cuz type in Photoshop is scalable, ain’t that just the swellest?”), I go into detail and share tips and tricks on every topic. For free, because my name starts with a G for Giver (not Geek, although I embrace that too).

Now that I’m poised to unveil the Final 10 Features, I thought I’d ratchet things up a notch with a contest. And not just any contest either. The best contest possible. One with a winner every week with gobs of prizes from a host of sponsors.

Photoshop Top 40: The Final 10

You’ll need to be a member to see what’s in store. Which is a lot.

First, let me show you the sponsors. And by sponsors, I mean unbelievably generous purveyors of gifts. More than $14,000 worth in all.

One-on-One books and videos Fotolia image library Red Giant Software Olympus How Design Conference Print magazine How magazine Wacom onOne Software Adobe O'Reilly Media

My goodness. Doesn’t just looking at those colorful logos (all clickable) make you feel like a kid in a candy shop? Only you don’t have to buy the candy. You have to win it.

How to Play

Now that you know more or less what’s at stake, here’s how it works:

  • Guess a feature. The idea is to guess what next week’s feature—just that one feature—will be. For example, this week you’ll guess Feature #10.
  • Respond to the newsletter. Each week (assuming you’re a member of the site), I’ll email you a newsletter announcement. Respond to that newsletter (not here on the site, although I always welcome your comments) in order to submit your guess.
  • One entry per person per feature. Feel free to make a guess every week, but please don’t shower me with entries; I’ll only count the first one. You can win just once. And employees of the sponsors are ineligible.
  • Fill out the survey. Nothing horrible. Just name, contact info, and a few questions about who you are. After that, you’re green-lighted for the length of the contest.
  • I will select a winner at random from the correct entries. In the interest of fairness, I’ve changed this rule. Starting with Feature #7, I will select an answer at random from all correct entires, regardless of time stamp (provided, of course, that I receive the entry before the contest ends).
  • I’ll announce a winner after the feature posts. So for example, Feature #10 goes live the morning of Tuesday, February 9. You’ll know if you won soon after that.
  • Guess the next feature. After Feature #10 goes live, I’ll invite you to submit your guess for Feature #9. And so on.
  • The prizes start great and get better. The person who first nails Feature #10 will make out like a bandit. The person who first nails Feature #1 will be showered with a gift from each and every sponsor.

I’ll let you know what the gifts are on a week-by-week basis. But suffice it to say, the Feature #10 winner receives lots of gifts and the Feature #1 winner receives lots more, including Adobe’s full Creative Suite 4 Design Premium package. Check out the video at the outset of this post for more info.

Feature # 1 Winner’s Prize Package: Over $6 in Value

Just so’s you know, here are this week’s prizes:

Strategic Advice

How is it possible to guess what I think is one of Photoshop’s best features? After all, my choices so far have ranged from the literal (Feature #29: Liquify) to the conceptual (Feature #25: Selection Calculations), not to mention from the obvious (Feature #12: Camera Raw) to the obscure (Feature #19: Luminance Blending). Here’s my advice for reading my mind:

  • Think basic, not sexy. These are not Photoshop’s coolest features, they’re the program’s most essential. Imagine the tools, commands, and functions you could not possibly live without.
  • Watch what I’ve recorded so far. You can find every one of the existing movies at Or subscribe to the Photoshop Top 40 podcast feed at iTunes. That’ll give you a sense for the rhythm of the series, and help you check features off your list.
  • Watch the live-action introduction. It’s called Introducing Photoshop Top 40, and in it, I mention a handful of features that did not make the list.
  • Assemble your own list. Dream up your own Final 10 list and slip me a feature each week. If your Feature #3 ends up being my Feature #8, then you know to mark that item off and switch things around.
  • Observe the hints. Each week, I’ll provide a small hint. For example, Feature #10 affects every image that you create and edit in Photoshop.
  • Think outside the box. The Final 10 includes at least one command, tool, and palette, as well as a few groups of related functions. By way of example, Feature #11: Opacity and Blend Modes touched upon more than a dozen functions, but I still called it one feature.
  • Be specific. If you had guessed that Feature #11 was “Blending,” you’d be right. But if someone had come up with “Opacity and Blend Modes,” that person would be even more right. The entry closest to the exact name wins.
  • Be persistent. If you submit an entry for Feature #7 and it’s wrong, it might be my Feature #6. You can only submit one entry per week, but you can try it as many times as you like.
  • But don’t be stubborn. If you guess the quick selection tool (which would be wrong) and keep trying it every week because you’re sure it’s on the list somewhere (which it isn’t), then you’ll never win.
  • Enter early. Remember, the first right answer wins. Then again, if you have a glimmer of insight late in the week, no harm in giving it a shot.
  • Don’t guess the Print command. You know how you make a Photoshop Top 40 list, and then when you’re all done it occurs to you that you forgot something really obvious? Well, that happened to me once . . .

Well, that about wraps it up. I don’t know about you, but I’m plenty excited. Honestly, if you have half as much fun watching these last ten videos as I had recording them, then our Cumulative Fun Factor will be somewhere in The Stratospheric Fun Zone. (That may be the stupidest sentence I’ve ever written. I love having a blog!) Now don’t just sit there. Make a guess.


Next entry:Martini Hour 051, in Which Deke Discovers Our Guest Can’t Even Find Matching Socks

Previous entry:Photoshop Top 40, Feature #11: Opacity and Blend Modes


  • Contest Survey Problem

    Received e-mail about contest.  After logging in I clicked on the link to enter contest but was told I had already taken the survey !!!!  (Even though I, of course, had not).

    Has anyone else encountered this “problem”.

  • We had it set up for one entry per machine

    So if you responded on the same computer as another person—or started, stopped, and came back to it—you would be told that you had already completed the survey. (Your computer is like your avatar, man!)

    Obviously, that’s a problem. But it should be fixed now. (FWIW, we’re kinda feeling our way through this.) So try again or try another machine.

  • Me too

    ...and maybe other users too. so I just want to let you know, and I’ll try later.

  • can’t guess

    I also just registered and logged in ,but was told I already entered when I had not.

  • Same thing!

    Had the same issue, logged into the site, tried to enter, was told I had. Thanks for this opportunity Deke and sponsors!

  • I made it!

    Hey guys, try the “Make a guess” link at the bottom of the post.

    The first link said the same for me but the second did it!

    Good Luck! smile

  • Oops..


    I just submitted my guess..

    I wanted to write “keyboard shortcuts” but something crazy happened and while I was writing the form submitted itself, so I was only able to submit “keyboard” which is kind of stupid..

    So please count my “keyboard” guess as “keyboard shortcuts”.


  • Great contest man!

    Wow…. finaly, I have a chance to win amongst those crazy Photoshopers!!!

    Based on the clues… I’m confident about my guess. Now the question is… was I quick enough!!!?

  • You may need to clear your cookies

    Apparently Constant Contact may get confused by historical behavior.

    So try clearing your cookies, or worst-case scenario restart your computer, and then try again.

    I have modified this section of the comment in which I suggested alternative links. Apparently, they were doomed to failure. The links in the main body of the post are correct.

    Hopefully, this will solve your problems. If not, please let me know!

  • Gotcha

    So noted.

  • Did this happen before or after you filled out the survey?

    In other words, did the survey page fail to load, or did it fail to process you properly after you entered the info?

  • clear your browser cache

    I need a lacie monitor so thanks and all.

    I noticed the diffuse reflection of a lamp on my window at night which was black and covered with condensation and thought it looked like a gaussian gradient.

    So I took a picture and put it into PS, setting the mode to overlay 34% and above an image layer, giving a diffuse spot effect. I compared this to a gaussian radial gradient and it looked a ton better, more natural. If this looks better than the gaussian function could I incorporate it into a blur function by using it as a displacement map?

    Rather than seminars etc, why not provide a photoshop support service. Php emailer tied to a paypal link. People ask their question and get an answer the next day. The task can be delegated, generate more money and the niche has not yet been filled (that I’m aware of). I’ve picked up a lot about photoshop and I’m loathe to sit through long tutorials or buy whole books when I only need help for specific areas.

  • Announcing the winner

    Deke, since someone probably already guessed feature #10. When are you going to annonce the winner of this week’s prize?

  • okay submitted

    better late than never wink

  • still not working

    Even if I use the “direct” link you provided in your reply… it immediately shows a [basically] blank page with the admonition that “you have already taken the survey”.

    Has nothing to do with Constant Contacts e-mail…... something in your user DB is throwing incorrect flags.

    And YES… completely cleared cache, wiped out all cookies, etc etc ad naseum

  • It works

    The link is at the end of the post “Make a guess”.

  • After much research and testing

    It appears that the links I provided in my previous comment (now deleted) were wrong. Classic case of trying to fix one problem by introducing another.

    This is the correct link. (Same as now in the main body of the post.)

    If after clearing cache and cookies and restarting and replacing your computer that still doesn’t work, then we obviously still have a problem and will get back on the phone with Constant Contact for the hundredth time.

    Gosh, I’m having fun.

  • I’ll announce

    When the Feature #10 posts on Tuesday.

  • You are

    Really going to do what you said you were going to do?  How refreshing!!!

  • Not

    In this contest…  it’s all about the right response and time stamps grin

    Best of luck everyone!

  • No extra points

    For being a smartass.


  • email

    received your “guinea pig” email and responded directly (as per your request)... mail keeps bouncing back as undeliverable.

    NBD as you seem to have the situation well in hand.

  • Photoshop Elements 8 One on One

    I want to buy your book as titled above but I have PE version 7.  Are there enough changes in PE 7 and 8 that another book would be more appropriate?
    Thanks in advance for your answer.


  • That’s obvious

    I’ve been one as long as I can remember, and never got extra points for it.

    It’s all good, the occasional smile more then makes up for it!  grin

  • PS Elements 7 vs 8

    Hi, Mary. There are a few new features in Photohsop Elements 8 that are specifically covered in the book, but most of the techniques make use of features that have been in Elements for a long time. I think an Elements 7 user would be able to use close to 90 percent of the Elements 8 book, maybe more.

  • I’m an idiot

    Just got the email to make a guess for #7 and when I saw your hint of “the ultimate convenience tool” I immediately wrote “Actions!”  Only AFTER I submitted it did I realize you had already selected actions as a lowly #30!

    Oh, well. I think they are the ultimate convenience tool for the work I do!

  • Don’t feel bad

    I know just what you mean sonesta, I did the same thing this morning as well, it was my first entry so far, I choose layer comps, and then after looking at all of the 40 see it at 39, so don’t feel bad, I’m a bigger idiot than you by far, lol..

  • Don’t get down on yourself

    At least your presumption MADE the top 40….  grin

    Feature #9. Hint: It takes something bad and makes it good.  I went with Lab Color (anyone that took that Video training knows why)

    Feature #10.  Hint: It affects every image that you create and edit in Photoshop.  I went with Resolution… Humm, does it?

    Guess away, and have fun, and stop acting like an ID10T… lol (PS: you can only win once, so being a slow starter might not be a bad thing!)

    Let the Good Times Roll, good luck all!

  • True

    My wife took our dog to get groomed after work.  She asked if I would go pick him up when they called, and being the obedient husband that I am I said sure.  After I had picked up Chewy (dog), my wife called me at home to see if I had picked him up before she left to come home.  I saw on call waiting it was her, so being a smart ass I answered the phone “Steve’s Bar and Grill; liqueur in the front, poker in the rear!”  “Not funny” was her reply, as I heard everyone in her Church choir group burst into laughter over the speaker phone…

    I guess my point is Idiot is in the eye of the beholder… at least they all laughed

  • Compliment & Site Navigation Suggestion

    Deke—Just LOVE your Top 40 videos….VERY well presented…it’s so much easier to ‘watch’ than to have to read long written instructions. 

    About your site… I wish it were easier to use.  I would have sent this by private email but I cannot find a “Contact Us” link (or a HELP link either).  And the emails I have received from you appear to have ‘send only’ return addresses. For instance, here a couple of things I find troubling…

    1.  As mentioned, there are no links for HELP or CONTACT US. 

    2.  The “Home” page contains extracts from elsewhere on the site, instead of navigation and directory or table of contents link lists.

    3.  The tabs at top of page have redundancy and are not intuitively named.  For instance,

    Both POD and STUFF take user to same location/information (Top 40 blogs) and BLOG has Top 40 info in a non-top-40 area.

    PRESS—I would infer this would contain articles about you / your website

    VIDEO —I would infer this would contain free videos

    ..............Believe both could be combined with a dekePRODUCTS tab, telling user there are products for sale and taking user to another page where the each product is LISTED at the top with a navigation link to more info.

    4.  The Top 40 List.  I cannot find any LIST of the links to each of the Top 40, so I have to scroll through all the context pages of all of them to see 1) what feature is offered in each and 2) which one is where.  A simple Table of Contents on your Home Page would solve this nicely.  Something like

    ==================Free TOP 40 PHotoshop PodCasts List ============

    ....................................[is ‘podcast the correct term for these mini-videos?]

    40.  Name of 40th Video   . . .  [link to that blog post]

    39.  Name of 39th Video   . . .  [link to that blog post]
    38.  Name of 38th Video   . . .  [link to that blog post]
    37.  Name of 37th Video   . . .  [link to that blog post]

          and so forth ..  all 40 listed sequentially so one could choose the one/more s/he wishes to view.

    I apologize for going into so much detail in this public area, but could not figure out a way to communicate non-publicly.  If you’d like contact me personally by email, we could correspond further on these and some other suggestions I’d like to offer.

    Thank you for listening.  Please know that my ideas are not meant to be negative but are offered as potential ways to make a good site even better.

    — VJ (VeryJoyful)

  • Thanks for the detailed feedback!

    And no offense taken. The current navigation controls were built on old assumptions (all of 20 months ago wink. Been discussing changes, tho no time frame for implementation at the moment. You know how these things go.

    I don’t list email b/c a) I’m not particularly responsive and b) I have problems with bounces. Besides, this way, others can see comments and absorb or make their own.

  • What a great story!!!

    What a great story!!!

  • Contest Dates

    Just wondering if this contest is still open for guests. I haven’t received the newsletter in my email.

  • I’m afraid this contest is long gone

    But look for more in the future.

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