TalkBack Send comments via our feedback form.
Interview by Eric Martin
“When Pancakes Go Bad: Optical Delusions with Adobe Photoshop” is a new Photoshop book by Avi Muchnick. Avi is the founder of Worth1000.com, a website that sponsors Photoshop contests that feature funny, doctored images. "When Pancakes Go Bad" highlights entries from the Worth1000.com artists, and also includes behind-the-scenes tutorials. I talked with Avi about his website and the book.
ERIC: Can you give us a short history of Worth1000.com, and tell us what you project for the site in the near future?
AVI: I built worth1000 during a hiatus between working and starting law school. It launched it's first Photoshop contest in January, 2002. It was a hit pretty quickly, as people would email each other images from the site and word got around to newspapers who wrote about us.
About a year later we added many other kinds of contests, including 3d, illustration, photography and writing. That was a fun addition for our many members who enjoyed more mediums than just Photoshop. The latest addition to the site has been something known as corporate contests, where we allow companies to come to us to have their logos designed (or other graphic work done) as part of a competition.
As far as future plans, I'm currently working on spinning off the merchandise area of Worth1000 into it's own site, to allow artists to sell their work on merchandise quickly and easily.
ERIC: Did the 'When Pancakes Go Bad' book idea come about because you wanted to offer people techniques that would help them with submitting works to your site, or was it a completely separate idea?
AVI: The pancakes book was actually not my idea at all, but the idea of an editor at Thomson Publishing named Megan Belanger. We had the idea for a while to put out a coffee table book, but didn't really have much time to pursue looking up and sending out proposals to publishers.
Luckily Megan stumbled across Worth1000 and had the foresight to see that our access to wonderful artists would go hand in hand with her idea for a funny Photoshop tutorial book. She loved an image from our website called "Jemimaphobia" which showed a pancake with teeth, and had us adapt it for the cover, and changed the title to "When Pancakes Go Bad" for legal reasons.
ERIC: Is 'When Pancakes Go Bad' geared to the very beginner, with step-by-step instructions, or to someone with more knowledge of Photoshop?
AVI: I would have to say that it ranges. There is definitely something for everyone. It's not a book that shows you how to use Photoshop, but rather shows you how to do specific techniques in it. Even if you never used Photoshop before you should be able to reproduce the steps that we listed in the book to create specific images.
ERIC: What's your favorite "effect" that you wrote for the book?
AVI: I edited many of the tutorials and found one by Tracey Somo that shows how to dress up a squirrel into a little girl's outfit to be wonderful.
ERIC: You have seen so many Photoshop pieces that it must be hard to impress you now. So can you tell us of a "wow" moment that you had recently at Worth1000.com - where something just blew you away?
AVI: That's really true - things online rarely impress me nowadays. :) Here's one that recently came out that definitely did.
ERIC: I've read that you are in law school. How much time does Worth1000.com take from you, and how much time do you spend yourself these days with Photoshop?
AVI: I spend quite a few hours a day on it, mostly answering emails and doing regular maintenance. I also spend quite a lot of time on other projects and websites that I'm developing (not necessarily related to Photoshop).
I graduated law school last June, and during that time I still found enough time to run the site, but also had a lot of help from the administrators - users who volunteer their time to help run things.
ERIC: Are you planning any more Photoshop-type books?
AVI: A book is tentatively planned for September, but I haven't decided if that's a process I would like to go through again. Editing a book is a tremendous amount of work, and I'm still a bit burned out though it's months later.
ERIC: Everyone has a an all-time favorite Photoshop tip. What's yours?
AVI: The masking tool is your friend. :)
When Pancakes Go Bad: Optical Delusions with Adobe Photoshop