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Making Your Contest Submission Sparkle


by hylakisweetheart

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Getting your submission noticed by the judges doesn’t have to take a long time or even be hard! When it comes to making your submission sparkle, think about neatness, effort, and theme – your submission will most likely be chosen if you do. Judges pick entries that show effort and follow all of the guidelines. They pick the ones that most deserve it! Whether you’re drawing for the Art Gallery or the Beauty Contest, or making a movie poster for the Random Contest, all of these basic rules just... apply!

Neatness

I can’t stress how important it is to make your submission neat and tidy. But detail shows effort, right? Actually, detail doesn’t always mean that you’ve shown a lot of effort. We can both agree that your Kacheek’s abstract crayon-doodle may be detailed, but that doesn’t always mean that it took a lot of effort. By making your entry sparkling neat and clean, you’re telling the judges that you cared enough to make it presentable.

How do I make my submissions neat and clean?

There are several things to take into consideration. First off is size. Make sure that your submission follows the file size limitations. Also, make sure that it’s not too many pixels wide or too many pixels tall. A good rule of thumb is to look at the sizes of other entries, apply a little mathematics, and average it out to something you can work with. Can’t draw small? Resize your image in an art program, or get a friend to resize it for you.

The second way to make your images clean is to make them easy to read. Obviously, this means that you must make your text readable. If you don’t have a special program like Photoshop or PSP to outline or highlight your text, add a clean white space to the bottom and center on it some black text that describes your entry or gives it a name. Remember that you’re trying to make it clean looking, so don’t add too much or the image will look cluttered.

The third and possibly most striking way to make your entry neat and clean is to add a simple, 1 pixel wide black border around everything! The black border helps add contrast to the white backgrounds of the site, and not only that, it looks good, too!

Effort

Effort is what the judges are, obviously, looking for. If your submission doesn’t show effort, the judges probably won’t pick you, so try your best! Entering a comic into the Neopian Times? Give the frames different, light-colored backgrounds and shade your drawings with a light source. Battling the Random Contest? Make sure your colored pencils or art pens don’t leave lines.

How do I show effort in my entry?

Adding detail properly is a good way to show effort. Don’t get me wrong – adding too much elaborate detail is definitely not good, but you can add some spice to your entry by adding some pretty basic designs. Try adding crosshatching to the buttons on your Krawk’s shirt or some folds in your Cybunny’s blanket. Little things like that make all the difference!

Perspective is also another great way to show effort. By adding even simple 1-point perspective to that pyramid picture of yours, it looks much more realistic and 3D than an otherwise flat pyramid would, and is obviously the best way to show effort in your picture!

Coloring is also a great way to show effort. By adding some shadows, even if they start dark from the inside and get lighter as you go in, your images, once again, look more realistic and show more effort. Adding text to an edited image? Add drop shadows or emboss the text. Very spiffy!

The final way to show effort is to do it with real-life media. Baking something for the Random Contest or making a sculpture for the Art Gallery, you can show effort by using other ways to show effort! Add detail to the hair on your clay Moehog or frost your Zafara-shaped cake with realistic colors and maybe even shadows! Draw a line of trees in the south of Meridell using perspective, and it’s amazing how much effort you can see.

Themes and Settings

I like to think of themes and settings as the basis for all good submissions. Is your submission going to be easter-themed? Is it going to take place in Roo Island or in Neopia Central? It’s important to think about these things before you start on your entry, because you’ll probably be shaping your whole entry around it!

How do I add a theme or a setting to my submission?

Before you begin working, think about the contest rules or even your pet’s paint color. If the contest specifies a theme, your work has already been cut out for you. If not, it’s time to build your own and make your submission sparkle! You can even think up both a theme and a setting.

Choosing your theme is, first of all, the most important part. It may seem like you should first choose a setting, but this is not the case. If your pet is a Maraquan Jubjub, try making your Beauty Contest entry full of Maraquan delights. Add baby-themed items to your baby movie poster for the Random Contest. Dazzle the judges (and Ollie) with your orange-themed Art Gallery entry! Use characters to put together a theme that revolves around their paint color or their personality.

Next, it’s time to choose your setting. If you’re going to do a Halloween Bruce surrounded by cauldrons and broomsticks, what do you think is the best place to put all of this? The Haunted Woods, of course! Once again, use your head to place your theme in one of Neopia’s themed worlds, and you have yourself a setting. Hopefully now it makes more sense that you chose a theme first!

Now you’re ready to put together your entry. Remember all of the things that we talked about – neatness, effort, and theme – and all aspects about them – and you’ve surely worked your way into the spotlight.

 
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