by December 6, 2001 0 comments

It all started when Jim Coudal, president of a Chicago-based art and design firm, mailed a Photoshop document to a friend. The friend added another layer, tweaking the original image and adding his own bit to the design. The document kept going back and forth, with Jim and his friend adding more and more layers. Jim then contacted other Photoshop designers he knew to see if they were interested in playing such a match online. There began a game called Photoshop Tennis, played at

The game has become extremely popular among Photoshop professionals and enthusiasts, both for the chance to demonstrate their creative skills and proficiency and for the fun of it. Jim has a huge list of people wanting to play the game. It starts when one player e-mails a Photoshop document to another. The other player then adds a layer to this and e-mails the document back. The layer can be an extension, addition, or a whole new dimension of the original design.

The document keeps going back and forth like a tennis ball, with each player adding his own layers. It is posted real-time on Jim Coudal’s site with one designated person giving commentary on the match. People can login and watch the match, and when it’s over–either after a fixed period of time or when one of the players wins or when one or both of them decide to call it quits–you can vote for a winner. The most popular matches have been those that tell a story, rather than those in which players demonstrate pure design technique. You can also post your comments on any match or volley.

And we’re off! JD begins by toeing the line with a line drawing of Jimmy Connor’s legs in a pair of shorts that seems to be missing a
pantleg. No matter, it’s a simple, understated beginning, showing texture, a deft hand with the line tool, and plenty of room for Mark’s response

A delicious return. Incorporating a few shades of dirt brown broken into squares, a nicely lined shadow, and the ubiquitous Photoshop checkerboard, Mark shows the skill of a shirtmaker layering his threads for a subtle pattern

The pictures below show the beginning of a match with one player (JD Hooge) serving and the other one (Mark Arcenal) returning it. This match had 10 volleys (you can see the whole game at

Unfortunately for Mark’s bad-boy reputation, this shot has the grace of a Schwinn cruiser, not the X-Games appeal of a

Pragya Madan

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