2009 Digital Wizard Contest Winners

This year's submissions proved imaginative people can make anything worth looking at.

For six years now we've been giving readers some pretty boring images and asking them to unleash their creative prowess upon them. The breadth and depth of this year's pool of submissions was staggering, proving once again imaginative people can make anything worth looking at.

"Being able to take photos is great, but being able to make them into something totally different is Photoshop is amazing." Says this year's grand prizewinner, Broadcast Designer, Scott Little. His enthusiasm for digital imaging is clear in his incredibility detailed creation, which took 30 hours to create. The 34-year-old Orlando, FL resident said that as soon as he saw the photos he knew what he wanted to make. "Once I saw the front of the car, I knew I was gong to use the grill as a rib cage, I built the rest of the idea around that. A robot seemed appropriate from all the metal pieces and straight lines available."

So what's his flower-friendly robot made of? Would you believe fruits for eyes, parrot feathers on his legs, stone stairs for feet, pyramids for the head and arms along with subway cars, with the car's headlights for joints and windows for shoulder blades? To create this masterpiece Little deployed heavy use of the masks, Paths, Layer Filters, Transform and Warp tools among others.

Forty-two-year-old Patrick Rolands, a car plant employee from Wentzville, MO, combined his life long interests in photography and illustration a decade ago. He taught himself the ins-and-outs of Adobe Photoshop CS2 through trial and error, and created this bewitching illustration in just eight hours. His inspiration came from old horror movies. "My first attempt at a werewolf looked like a deranged terrier so I gave up on him and worked on my other entries." Rolands says. "As I was working on an entry based on King Kong I realized that my monkey would make a good wolf."

By the time he finished the wolf man was a composite of the koala, the blond girl on the trampoline and the boy crouching behind her. Rolands took selections of the koala's nose and used the Warp tool to fit them over the girl's head in several different layers. He then used the Brush tool to darken her ear and give make it pointed. The nighttime woods were created by combining the background of the sports car photo and the stone tower, with some color adjustments.

Freelance photographer and illustrator Dominika Gardocka, 25, from Woodhaven, NY, has been "painting with software" for almost half her life. Her years of practice and her love of painting horses helped her create this image in only 4 hours. While it's clear which photos she used for some of this composite (the pyramids and beach make up the background), the Pegasus is a surprising mix of the parrot (the wings, hoofs crafted from the beak), and the koala bear, which was stretched and liquefied. Gardocka used several different layers in Adobe Photoshop CS3 to add texture and blend it together to get an antique look. See more of her work at www.dunaillustrator.com.

After watching the movie "Independence Day," Orlando, FL-based Graphic Designer Edwin Lunandy, 28, was struck with the inspiration for this image. It took him about five hours to create the alien spacecraft from parts of the subway and car. But it takes more than an expertly fashioned spacecraft to impress us. Lunandy's apocalyptic vision really tied it all together. "I needed something to make this mage more interesting, so I created the explosion effect," he said. "I trimmed the pyramid a little bit, and adding Cloud Filter and Layer Mask to create the smoke effect."

TV Design Director Jeff Brown, 41, is no newbie to digital imaging. The Dayton, OH resident started with graphics on a Tandy Radio Shack Computer many years ago with at his first television job, and claimed "Your Best Shot" prizes in 2001 and 2002. To construct this dazzling peacock Brown said he used a lot of the same techniques for cutting and pasting images for TV newscasts. But instead of breaking news, he made a beautiful bird from fruit, sky, a koala bear and lit it all with a subway car "all in less than five hours," now that's impressive.