2007 Digital Wizard Winners

Five creative imagers make magic and win top honors in our fourth annual collage competition.

2007-Digital-Wizard-Winners
2007-Digital-Wizard-Winners

What do a flamingo, a baby, a yellow car, a horse, a supermarket aisle, and Mt. Rushmore have in common?

Aside from being the setup to a cheesy joke, they're all images used by the winners of Pop Photo's fourth annual Digital Wizard Contest.

Our rules were simple: Turn out a masterpiece by combining, manipulating, and/or enhancing elements from at least four of the 12 not-sogreat images at left. Use only tools that are in your image-editing software; adding other pictures is forbidden.

Picked as the best from among nearly 500 entries, the five winners shown on these pages demonstrate technical ability, creative vision, and, in more than one case, a pretty good sense of humor.

$1,000 Grand Prize Winner

This modern-day Pinocchio, shown above right, wasn't made in a toyshop but in Adobe Photoshop CS2, by 28-year-old Alison Davis of Central Lake, MI. A graphic designer and mother, Davis immediately saw the puppet-theater potential in the photos.

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She combined filters to turn the baby's face into a wooden one, bloated the eyes with the Liquify tool and used Transform's Warp function to give him more of a smile and raise his eyebrows. She crafted his body using the crates from the grocery store for his arms and legs, and parts of the horse for Pinocchio's donkey ears and tail. The puppet's clothes are fashioned from bits of the textiles in the living room photo and clothing from the picture of the couple. The background is the Roman Forum photo with a Paint filter over it.

"I apologize to the mother of the baby whose eyes I bloated and face I turned to wood," Davis says.

This digital Geppetto spent 16 hours over the course of four days on her project.

$300 1st Prize Winner

Twenty-one-year-old Los Angeles art student Julianne Holzschuh's aspirations to be a video game designer are apparent in this fanciful composite that she spent 25 hours creating in Photoshop CS2. Crafting a Pegasus by using the feathers from the flamingo on the horse was just one of the painstaking steps that Holzschuh went through to design this introspective scene. Other elements she used include one of the girls from the double portrait, pieces of Mt. Rushmore, and the sky from the beach photo.

Her inspiration came from the horse: "I knew I wanted to use the horse, and when I noticed the flamingo, I knew I wanted to make a Pegasus," she says. "I like mythical creatures, so I had a lot of fun with it." Turning what she calls a "dumpy" horse into a sleek Pegasus took a lot more work than she anticipated, as did shifting the girl's proportions and focus.

Holzschuh started her artistic career in more traditional media, drawing through her high school years. But, encouraged by paintings created in Photoshop that she discovered online, she began to teach herself techniques from online tutorials and forums, and later from advanced classes.

She calls her image "Best Seat in the House," which it may be, because to us it looks as if her mysterious subject is poised at the edge of the world.

$200 2nd Prize Winner

"I would love to say that I spent two or three hours on this picture," says 41-yearold graphic designer David Goswick from Tulsa, OK. "In truth, the picture evolved [over a longer time] as it progressed. So the final product is nothing like how it started."

Goswick says that while he was working on this project, his 9-year-old son was in a play about ancient Rome, which no doubt inspired his theme. "I think the two projects melded in my brain and helped me produce the final image," he said. He crafted the virtual toga from the curtains in the living room picture, the sandal from the coffee table, the shield from a wheel of the yellow car, and the spear from the fence in the same picture. The horse was given its new regal look with a digital hair cut, and head gear fashioned from living room upholstery, a lock from the car, and a flamingo feather.

Although Goswick used Photoshop 6.0 for his work on this image, he has used several different programs since he took up digital imaging in the late 1980s, acquiring his skills on the job and on his own. "I have been interested in art for my entire life," he says.

"Manipulating images digitally strikes me as being very powerful, particularly because photographic images have been regarded as the 'truth,' " he adds. "It's fun to bend reality and surprise the brains of the viewers."

$150 3rd Prize Winner

Sixty-four-year-old Susie Holderfield from North Royalton, OH, was using her computer to research genealogy online when she began to admire the graphics she saw on various sites. Inspired, Holderfield taught herself image editing by using the software that came preinstalled on her computer. She proves you don't need Photoshop for great results -- she made this image with Corel Paint Shop Pro 8.0.

Holderfield entered three images in our contest, each of which took about 15 hours to create. This baby robot was by far the most challenging and amusing of the bunch. The yellow car and baby image play the most obvious roles in the composite, but exhaust fashioned from the seaside sky, serial number lifted from the grocery store, and living-room fabric for the mouth delightful additions.

"I laughed a lot doing this one," Holderfield says of her creation.

$100 Honorable Mention

World events may have been playing on his mind when he thought up the theme for this apocalyptic image, says David Birkbeck, 48, a machinist and motorsports photographer from Fairview, OR. This thirdtime Digital Wizard prize-winner completed his entire image the day before our deadline.

It's clear which of the four images he combined, but the focal point of the burning city took the longest, since he had to paint it all in using brushes in Photoshop CS2. You can view more of his work at www.daimage.com.

Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Allan-Fuerte-Tampa-FL
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Allan-Fuerte-Tampa-FL
Allan FuerteTampa, FLImage By Allan Fuerte
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Alison-Davis-Central-La
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Alison-Davis-Central-La
Alison DavisCentral Lake, MIImage By Alison Davis
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Andrea-L.-Pacia-North-P
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Andrea-L.-Pacia-North-P
Andrea L. PaciaNorth Providence, RIImage By Andrea L. Pacia
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Brian-Bouskill-Placenti
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Brian-Bouskill-Placenti
Brian BouskillPlacentia, CAImage By Brian Bouskill
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-David-Birkbeck-Fairview
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-David-Birkbeck-Fairview
David BirkbeckFairview, ORImage By David Birkbeck
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-David-Goswick-Tulsa-OK
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-David-Goswick-Tulsa-OK
David GoswickTulsa, OKImage By David Goswick
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Fred-Luhman-Lakewood-C
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Fred-Luhman-Lakewood-C
Fred LuhmanLakewood, COImage By Fred Luhman
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Susie-Holderfield-North
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Susie-Holderfield-North
Susie HolderfieldNorth Royalton, OHImage By Susie Holderfield
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Gregory-McQuay-Gary-IN
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Gregory-McQuay-Gary-IN
Gregory McQuayGary, INImage By Gregory Mcquay
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Julianne-Holzschuh-Los
Digital-Wizard-Finalists-Julianne-Holzschuh-Los
Julianne HolzschuhLos Angeles, CAImage By Julianne Holzschuh
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