Customize Your Next Creative Challenge (draw, write stories, games, and more) | Rob Stenzinger | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Customize Your Next Creative Challenge (draw, write stories, games, and more)

teacher avatar Rob Stenzinger, Interactive Storyteller, UX, Game Design

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Finding Your Fun

    • 3. Where to Play

    • 4. Your Rules

    • 5. Project

    • 6. Tips and Wrap Up

    • 7. Bonus Examples of My Past Creative Challenges

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Creative challenges offer a themed art event to learn new skills, level up the ones you have, and have some fun along the way.

In this class I'll teach you to craft your own custom approach to creative challenges. Whether it's a popular public one (Inktober, NaNoWriMo, Global Game Jam, 24 Hour Comic Day) or one of your own creation. Many art discipline groups have adopted creative challenges as events to celebrate and practice. Whether you're making video games or writing a book, or making comics illustrating scenes, drawing characters, journaling, podcasting, the list goes on.

What about making the most of the challenge and making that event work well for you? That's what this class is all about: make it simple to plan a useful, engaging creative challenge based on:

  • The kinds of fun you prefer.
  • Event arrangements that work well for you.
  • Rules that you choose to get the results you want.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Rob Stenzinger

Interactive Storyteller, UX, Game Design



Hello everyone! I'm Rob Stenzinger, professional coach, UX designer, researcher, and I also make games, comics, and podcasts. One of my favorite things is to make something then share how I did it.


User Experience, Research, and Collaboration

I've been working as a UX designer, researcher, strategist, and facilitator for over 10 years in companies and communities of all sizes. I have a passion both for focusing on the user and for sharing, teaching, and building collaborative teams.


Game Design, Code, and Art

Making video games brings together so many of my interests. These are the games I've published so far:

Guitar Fretter: is a puzzle-action game for iOS and Android, Windows, a... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: creative challenges present both fun and potentially difficult obstacles in your path. As an artist, creative challenges our public or private ways to practice your art. Many art disciplines have adopted creative challenges as events to celebrate in practice, whether you're making video games or writing a book or making comics illustrating scenes, drawing characters, journaling, podcasting, the list goes on. Chances are there is a creative challenge out there in the world for you and what you make . And if there isn't, you could certainly invent one for yourself. What about making the most of the challenge and making that event work well for you? What do you want to learn? What do you want to make? What conditions are fun for you? This workshop is here for you as a space to design your approach, just like you would gravitate to games that you find interesting. With the right level of difficulty and obstacles that feel fun for you, I'll teach you to craft your own custom approach to creative challenges. Whether it's ah popular public one or one of your own creation, you'll make a mini challenge of your own and test it out to find the kinds of challenges that work for you, where you are at right now with your practice. I'm excited to see what challenges you make. I'm Rob Sten Zinger. I make I teach and coach interactive design games and collaboration through over 10 years of using creative challenges for fun learning and making products. I have some insights to share in this workshop. Welcome to customizing your creative challenge. Let's dive into this workshop with less and one find your fund. 2. Finding Your Fun: So now let's explore finding your fun. Games are engaging mechanisms that can hold our time and attention. And if we look at the kinds of games that you like, and a bit about why that's going to inform part of your creative challenge when we like a certain kind of game that gives us a look into what we find both fun and challenging to really important components of your or creative challenge. I use video games in my examples, but really, this goes for all games you play. Let's list games you've played. It doesn't have to be a giant, exhaustive list, but let's at least get three examples. I'm betting somewhere in your recent and distant past there there's at least three examples of games. The game you most recently played an inspiring favorite. What game is the one that makes you want to pick it up again and again? And then there's probably games where you've wandered outside your comfort zone. You've you've tried a thing and it didn't work out. What what's that game? Let's make sure we get three examples at least feel free to gather more. I just wrote the initials of a few games and I know what they mean to me. And you feel free to use initials or write the whole name and what have you? Uh, this just keeps the list private to me. And because I'm not here to critique these these creations, all these games, tons of great work has been put into them, and I respect them all, but I don't enjoy playing them all. So let's let's see what we can do with this list. Okay, so we're going to place. There are listed games into these categories, and we have sort of quadrants of looking at games from easy to difficult. And so we place the position somewhere along this line and then easy. Could be. It was easy to learn. It could be that maybe it had a little bit of a challenge to learn. But then applying what you learned went very well. It was get a skill. And then now the world is yours kind of thing, or was it still was. It's still challenging so that that's the difficulty line there as faras and how I tend to think of that and then from not interesting to engaging, not interesting didn't hold your attention and engaging you really wanted to keep playing for it is, you know, long as it worked out into your your schedule or kept you up too late. I don't know. Let's place our games on this grid here. Easy plus, engaging is a skill you like. Easy plus, not interesting would be something you're just not into it. It could be something necessary that you have to do or something that's avoidable were. If it's something you have to do it, it's probably it's in your way. Not interesting and difficult. Do not want things that are necessary in this in this quadrant that you do not want. These may lead to some pretty serious creative blocks and things that get in the way of getting that task accomplished and how you relate to it. How you adapt to due to not wanting it yet needing to do that something that's engaging and difficult. Well, you're probably leveling up you, you're feeling good about the strain, and that's an interesting thing to pay attention to. A lot of games try to live over here. What aspects of the games are appealing to us? Let's think about that for a minute. So is it the Is it the space or the theme? The world? Do you like science fiction? High fantasy? A simulation? Is it the just The choices are options you have available, right? Is it a game full of, um, a lot of acrobatics or violence or non violence? What kind of choices are you available and how are they matching your tastes? What about the obstacles? What are the kinds of things put in your way? The puzzles, the opponents, that kind of thing, the rewards and the risks are sort of the stakes for the choices. And how are those meeting your taste? A couple more categories, the characters or the story. Let's do one more journal exercise to wrap up finding your fund. For me, fun games have blank and not blank. Often blank difficulty is worth it. Sometimes blank difficulty is worthwhile. I'll answer this for me. You answer this for you. I tend to I prefer something that has some steaks, and I feel like I'm pushing myself a little bit. But that's this is going to be very much tuned to your style and your interest, just like other folks putting those games in that quadrant, maybe even you. You could place them very differently than I would, and that's what finding your fun is all about. So now we have some fun criteria to use for customizing your creative challenge because a good creative challenge should feel good to play. Next up will be where you play your creative talent. 3. Where to Play: where to play. Where would you like to have the space and the time, The overall place, The venue. The group of people that you wish to be connecting with through your custom creative challenge. Let's think about the social aspect of your custom creative challenge. Who do you want to be working alongside? What sort of roles that you wish to share to connect with one another? Do you want to collaborate on a bigger project where you could wear fewer hats? Or do you want to be taking on that entire project yourself? Where do you wish this social connection to take place is? Will it be purely virtual online, or will you go somewhere in person? Another aspect of the social connection will be the interactions that you wish to have in your creative challenge. If you are working completely in private, then maybe you have very little of this toe Worry about. But the more of a group, the larger the group that you have to interact with and the more ways that you're wanting to interact with them. So, for instance, just sharing your work there's amount of effort. There you have a packaging and presenting it. Having a title on a drawing is more than just posting the drawing itself. Thinking about what kind of things you wrap your post in as faras. Is it an entire block post? Is it something micro blogging? Is it a comment? And how much context will you be providing it, um, description, etcetera. What about the support? So now you're sharing things. Others are sharing things as well again. If you're not doing an entirely private creative challenge, showing support and participating looks different, depending on the kind of art that you are connecting through. So, for instance, drawings and commenting, liking re sharing and whatnot are fairly naturally, well fit for social media things that maybe our take more time to consume, like long prose videos audio. What have you. So if someone's making music or making podcasts as part of a create creative challenge, consuming that and keeping up with the volume, it depends on how many people are there and how large of things that they're sharing because that can that can be something to keep track of and consider for your for your resource is further assistance is going beyond the basic interactions and socializing and the basic sharing of your own work, further assistance would be Maybe you have special knowledge in a tool, and you're looking to be of service to folks in the community time. The social aspect will take up sometime. The creating the work will take up some time. What is your capacity for this creative challenge? Over what duration? How many hours in a day do you have for all of the aspects that you wish to put into this creative challenge and then for how many days do you have this capacity? So where you play your creative challenge is an event. It's something happening in a space at a time. So what size of crowd, where do you want to be? What kind of socialising preferences do you have? What kind of time capacity do you have and which art do which wish to practice? And then what events will this be like and feel like? And not I feel like all of this gets really close to describing your creative challenge event. What's missing now are your rules, and that's what's coming up next 4. Your Rules: So let's think about the rules. You have that round out this picture of your creative challenge event, the kind of fun that you're looking to tune and gravitate toward in your creative challenge . So how much learning do you want to have with this creative challenge? Is this product meant for going to market? Are you doing this to actually develop something for your business? How complete do you expect the product to be in the duration of the creative challenge? Tuning the tools affect aspects of this as well. If you choose certain tools, will this help you make a product ready for market and lower the pressure there? And then this all feeds into your your overall expectations. Think about the kind of quality of output you wish to have. Is it meant to show portfolio level work? What do you expect? And when this is going to really feed into the pressure you're putting on yourself through the creative challenge. Of course, the event is part of the context to so thinking about this and sort of that grid of like, you know, high toe low in engagement and, uh, low toe high effort toward the hot, high effort, high engagement quadrants, the more stress you'll probably have during the challenge. Tune this to your liking. If you really want to crank up the challenge and you feel like you're betting on high engagement, high reward well, the more things you put in this that this bucket and the longer the challenge goes on, the more likely you'll end up floating down here, where now you have hi effort, low engagement. It's worth really noting that that's that's adding a lot of pressure. It's your at risk of making it less fun. You could try to balance things out where you feel, uh, high high engagement and low effort and back off some of the pressure. So think about that. When you're tuning your rules, try to find away where your expectations are a well met package based on everything you've chosen so far. Next up, we're gonna test this out in a mini project 5. Project: our project for this class is taking your fund, your event in your rules and putting it into a recipe for your custom creative challenge. Let's do that in this format. First, I'll read what I wrote and weaken. Look at the prompts. This challenge is tuned to be medium difficulty. Be very engaging. Make a mini comic in a silly theme one times over eight hours in one day, using clips, studio paint slash digital tools to make a finished product eventually and learn pacing in reaction moments with frequent sharing and low socializing and collaborating as solo. So not a team, just me. So then we if we go through these prompts this combines everything we've thought about so far. What difficulty, What level of engagement, What art will you be working on? We added Theme theme is a spice for now, like finishing the definition of of our creative challenge and then getting there are time worked into here and getting our tools worked in. And then what kind of product outcome and what kind of learning outcome and then the social aspects where we think about are we sharing and how much right and then the socializing aspect. Will there be a lot of group encouragement and connection and what not And then, well, I m I in a situation where I'm wearing one hand or all the hats in my A team or a member of a team solo, have you? So for your project in this class, use this recipe, your recipe because maybe you're writing. Maybe you're making a game, and that could be of a certain scope that would be challenging to test. But let's cut that recipe down into something bite sized and test that as a way to explore how all this works together and get your impression on. Is this fun? Is this going to be an interesting, engaging and enjoyable sort of challenge? Test your creative challenge in many forms and whatever things you have to tune to make it so you can have this challenge be testable in 5 10 15 20 minutes or if you have the capacity an hour. But try to do a very fast, small test of your whole challenge and see how it goes, and as a result, does it show promise to being fun? Does it show promise to meeting your learning outcomes that you're hoping to get. Does it show promise to getting at the kind of product that you're hoping to get? And it's not about being, ah 100% certain, but just getting an idea that is this a direction you want to go into, and if it is, you've got a good recipe for your creative challenge. 6. Tips and Wrap Up: here we are wrapping up this class of customizing your creative challenge. I'm a fan of creative challenges. I want to congratulate you on making your own. You're bringing mawr thoughtful, fun, interesting experiments into the world that I bet you're going to create some interesting art through and that you may invite others to share and maybe reuse your recipe for creative challenges we explored where you find your fund, the kind of events that your going to build or think of building or taking part in. And that fits for you. The rules that help make it meaningful for you and all that together creates your creative challenge recipe. So where things can go wrong and things to watch out for are pushing yourself too far, trying to put too many variables all the way cranked up to maximum difficulty and maximum complexity. Please do tune your challenge to be reasonable for you. Find playful fund, and if you want to have the really tough challenging fund, it's OK, but really know what you're getting in for. There may be big ups and big downs if you meet or don't meet your expectations. This is part of the challenge. It's what's what makes the challenge have some kind of stakes where it it isn't predetermined, to have it be what you were expecting in the beginning. It's a safe space to fail, and you're being kind to yourself and kind to each other and encouraging because the idea of the creative challenges that it's an optional obstacle. I hope you are working to make a safe space to fail, which makes a safe space to learn and be productive. Some quick tips. Be sure to get some rest. Creative challenges can can be a grueling thing. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Make sure you get some rest. Make sure that you're having a helpful spirit, some curiosity for others that are participating. At least sometimes it's more meaningful to connect with that community. And a creative challenge is a perfect opportunity to meet some future collaborators or friends, celebrate and find things worth celebrating. There is likely so much creativity, so much effort and skill in practice, and maybe genius going on around you pop up and notice it last. I just want to say thank you so much for taking part in this and keep in touch good luck in your creative challenges 7. Bonus Examples of My Past Creative Challenges: Perhaps you're wondering. Hey, Rob, that was a pretty cool workshop. Thank you. Which you're welcome. Um, but what have you made with creative challenges shall be what you've done. And that's my intent here. A brief overview of the creative challenges I've tried and some of the results 24 hour comic day. I enjoyed connecting with local artists in a public venue. That was a really fun time socially and also making comics. I made three comics while 2.5 comics because two of them I finished one of them. I didn't. And it was not because of the the endurance grueling trial of drawing essentially for 24 hours, But it was because I chose to throw a big variable at myself where I was trying to learn clip studio paint, which was called Monk a studio back at that time. And have that be the first time I tried to use it to make a comic. So that time I only finished 10 pages, but the other times I finished all 24. I made a comment called metal or the girl as an offshoot story for a different comic that I have called art gig Zoo. And then I made a comic called No Remorse River Horse, which is about a bit of a conflict between Hippo and a bunch of rabbits. And I have iterated on that later on added some or rhyming prose, and I called it Toughest. Hippo goes to Bunny Town, and I like that version a lot for that event. It was great socializing and some productive work, but not really finished product type, productive work. So it was. It was a prototype level products, 30 characters and 30 days. I didn't finish one product at all through this experience, but I did connect socially. It was all online, but I met a plenty of artists. So a lot of folks in my social network come from that time when I win three different years . I participated in making a character every day for a month and shared description, name description, backstory type things. So it was great character development that feeds into other storytelling. In October, I participated in that four times. So far, it has been a great product background development place for me to work within the constraints of the challenge, but then also do some some style exploration and design exploration for different characters for different projects. Things like to Pizza Team, which is a comic and game that I'm working on things like Ghost Brawlers, which is a comic and game of working on and than one time I took a break from the development aspect of it and just use it for the visual creative practice. And I add, I used the drawing prompts for drawl a wean, and that's essentially curated set of promises to get you to you so you don't have to think you stare at a blank piece of paper on it seemed all celebrating the holiday of Halloween. I've created a few challenges that I've shared and talked about publicly, and one of them was the four hour book cover workshop, and that one was a process a lot like a design workshop. But it was collaborating me in the book author, the book author Pete Gilbertson. He was up for this because way we both wanted me to work on the project, and I had a lot of time crunch going on, and as a design facilitator, I thought, What if there was a way to shape a creative challenge where we got the book cover done in four hours. So it was all about making a lot of design choices in stages that we locked into and then designing small and rapidly in generating a lot of ideas and focusing them down. And then as we started the I started working on bigger things. There were less variables, so it was safe to to elaborate and refine the artwork. At that point, unblocking, I really missed the process of publishing stuff visually, frequently because I had a Web comic. Inferiors, back and unblocking, was all about Okay, publish something visual. Every day doesn't have to be complicated. It can be a simple scribble or it could be is complex is I wanted to be, and I varied how I would approach it. I would go through Siris of Time where I would work on the same theme where I created a little mini book of facial expressions. Not a finished product, but pretty close. I need to go back and finish that product. I like that. I have that in my back catalogue that I'll pick it up one of these days, but I explored lots of character design techniques and color palettes. When I worked in color, I played around with different tools, but it was all to just keep practicing. And so that's what I enjoyed about unblocking aren't sound off? That's a creative challenge that I co created with my friend and collaborator Jersey Droves . We work on a podcast together called Lean Into Art, and one of the big themes of that podcast is that is finding value and reflecting and thinking about your own art process and experiences, and then building on that and finding the themes, finding you know where you want to go next and learning more from each project that you do . So we encourage folks to do that kind of art journal reflection through this creative challenge. Art sound off. And like many creative challenges, lots of rules, different recipes and tuning, and that was a fun experience. Is one of the hosts of the challenge is to continue to find ways to make it welcoming and relevant to people of different backgrounds to get a taste of that core experience. So art sound off has been going on for five years. Well, this will be the sixth year, and I've developed a few product, um, rough draft things with it as faras blawg articles, potentially books and also raw material for future workshops. Whether you choose to practice in public or practice in private with your creative challenges, I hope these examples were some helpful context about some kinds of things that could come out of it. Thanks.