Design Contests: How to Position Yourself to Win | Ryan Vatz | Skillshare

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Design Contests: How to Position Yourself to Win

teacher avatar Ryan Vatz, Illustrator/designer/guitarist

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

3 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Lets Get Started

    • 2. The Tips

    • 3. The Process

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About This Class


In this class you will learn 6 key tips to position yourself to win design contests. Along the way I will show you my process when it comes to creating a contest entry, and some tricks to speed up your work in Adobe Illustrator. By the end of this class you will be prepared to win your next design contest!

Oh and did I forget to mention that this class is a contest in itself! So be sure to follow the criteria and sure your project gains the most likes for your chance to win an invite to dribbble!

What are we making for this contest:

  • In this contest you will create a bumper/window sticker that represents your favorite State, Providence, or Country.


  1. Post your project before 11:59 August 31, 2017
  2. Your design must be 1-3 colors
  3. Mock up your design on a car
  4. You must include your State, Providence, or Country's Capitol somewhere on your project page.

How do I Win:

  • The project with the most likes by the deadline will be the winner!

Good Luck!

P.S. This contest is for an invite to contribute to the dribbble community! You can go ahead and create a dribbble profile and use it to follow other designers and like projects, but without this dribbble invite you can not post anything. So if you have been waiting to be drafted you may just get your chance to play!

Mock up images found at

Music: Something Elated by Broke For Free

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ryan Vatz



Hello all, my name is Ryan. I'm an Illustrator that specializes in combining hand drawn illustrations with vector art.

To see what I'm up to now, follow me on Instagram and Dribbble.

Check out my Creative Market Shop!

See full profile

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1. Lets Get Started: pace you'll share. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever wanted to win and design contest? Maybe you've won one and want to win some more of them. Or hey, maybe you just want to learn some tips and tricks on how to speed up your process. An adobe illustrator or No, no, I got it. I got it. You want a chance to win an invite to dribble? Well, do I have the class for you? Welcome to design contests. How to position yourself toe win. After winning a few contests myself, I decided to maybe I should share my process and what I've learned about design contests. First, I'll hit you with the tips. Six Tasty treats that I use for every contest I enter. Then I'll take you on a journey of my process owned by the way, this contest class is itself a contest. What? That's right for your project. You will create a car bumper stickers, Last window sticker for a chance to win an invite to drivel. Take a swan dive into that seductive design community. So if all that sounds good to you, don't wait. Enroll and gain some of that tender contest knowledge 2. The Tips: e might be asking yourself a below what I find all these fancy contest you're talking about . Well, that's a great question. We can look at social media by searching Hashtags on INSTAGRAM or following design groups on Facebook. Other ways is through a simple Google search. This will take some digging, but some companies usually throw out design contests for logos or posters or things like that. And then also, we have Dribble the Social Media Network. Four designers. They even have this nice handy playoffs tab where we can find out. Okay, let's see what other people are designing for different contests on the site. And don't limit yourself to just the contests. There are also 30 minute challenges to help you brush up your skills and really speed up your process. Another place to find great contests or right here at skill share. A lot of teachers go ahead and put contests to their classes to help push you and add something to your portfolio. Whether it be a nice project toe, add as a visual element or even some honors to your resume. If you win the contest. These are just some things that can really push you and really help you with either your clients or getting that new job saying, Hey, I did win some contests and there's some merit to my work way found the contest that were wanting to design. For now, it's time to read the rules. There was one time that I missed this step and actually posted something that was some great work and really got a lot of likes on the social media platforms that I posted it. Teoh. But I didn't read the rules through I forgot toe submit my email and all of a sudden, even though I submitted some great work, it wasn't selected because I didn't follow the rules. So I can't stress this enough. Read the rules. Sometimes companies ask you to follow them on social media platform or like the post, and then some even have you fill out some form that will include maybe you're email address or maybe even your city address. If you're gonna win some kind of poster, some kind of item that needs to be mailed to you. So read the rules thoroughly, not just looking at what you're designing, but how you need to present your design. They're also gonna probably include file formats. So if they're wanting you to design a logo, then you can't just submit a J peg. For instance, you might have to submit a illustrator file to get the actual vectors to the company. So once again, read the rules, Read him again. Before you start designing, read the rules. Now it's time for some contest preparation. We're gonna one of research the company that is sponsoring this contest, this student IQ too long. But just enough information needs to be grabbed so that we can design the best entry for this contest. The research would include looking at the company's website. Look at what designs have been done for them in the past that they seem to really enjoy. Also looking at if they have ran a contest in the past looking at previous winners, seeing okay, this is the stuff that they're looking for. This is the stuff that has won in the past, has grabbed their attention, so kind of looking at where I can make my designs fit that kind of look and feel. Also, we're gonna wanna look at if there are any current entries. Some contests allow you to see who's already entered the contest, and if it is a like platform where the most likes wins, then you'll be able to see all the people that have already posted. So looking at who's already gotten a lot of likes and maybe a lot of good feedback and good comments already and seeing well, I could do something similar to that. But better, you know, we don't want to really copy that person's idea or anything. But maybe we just zig where they zagged and use that kind of project to influence the submission that we make. So we've done the research on the company that we're about to do the design contest for now . Little tasty tip. The first. This can't always be the case, because sometimes contest start without you knowing or things like that. But if you get it early enough, the sooner you pose, the longer you're in front of the judge's eyes or if it's a like platform, where you're collecting likes and the most likes wins, the longer you have to gain those likes and even market your project to filter in some or those likes. Another thing is that you'll be in before the design contest gets saturated. So if you come up with an idea and then everyone starts posting that same idea later, you become the one that was the innovator for that idea. So the judge and everyone else following thinks that Wow. Okay, this person was the first guy to post a ladybug and everyone else that posted ladybugs or just copycats of that ladybug. So you're ladybug could win. Maybe this design contest should be for a ladybug. Maybe. Maybe that's another class, but yes, be the first. This next little tidbit might be a little weird for contests, but it team player now, why would I want to give anybody my vote whenever I'm trying to get the most votes myself? That's a great question. Poorly done. Sean Connery. Well, let me tell you this. If you give that one person a vote, they're gonna be more likely to say, Hey, wow, This guy gave me a vote during this contest. And his works pretty good too. So why don't I give him a vote as well? This has worked for me and many occasions and contests. I've given people a vote In fact, I've given every single person that has entered the contest a vote. So whereas I gave one vote 21 piece, I got 200 votes back for my peace. Just think of your likes as social currency. Give out your votes, and I'm sure that those people will be more likely to return that favor. This tip does pertain more to the voting or likes category of contests, but who's to say a judgment? Enjoy seeing all this camaraderie in their contest. Now it's time to be loud. Market your designs on your social media platforms. Start creating a buzz for the design you've entered into the contest. Encourage non designers to go and vote for your design if they're able Teoh and always remember, the sooner you post your project, the longer time you have to market it and gained those votes before that creepy deadline starts coming in. 3. The Process: we've gone over the tips. Now it's time to get to the needy. Greedy. Let's talk about this contest. Show of hands. Who wants an invite to dribble? I hope you're not raising your hands because this is previously recorded, and all I'm looking at right now is a microphone. But yes, this is still your chance to get an invite to that. Oh, so nice sugar and spice community that is dribble. So what do you have to do to win this price? Surprise. Let me tell you, in this contest you're going to create a car bumper sticker or window sticker that represents your state, providence or country. Now the criteria we need to post this before 11:59 p.m. On August 31st 2017 In your project , it must include a 123 color bumper sticker window sticker, an image of that window sticker mocked up on a car in post your state's your providence or your country's capital in your project. Another thing you may want to dio in case you win the invite to dribble is to go ahead and create a profile on dribble. If you don't have one already you can go to dribble, click, sign up and sign up for the basic or free profile. This will allow you to follow designers and allow you to like projects in, like, certain designs. But it won't allow you to actually contribute to the community until you get the highly coveted invite while you're there. Hey, maybe you can go ahead and follow me. Just search for Ryan vahts in the search area. Yeah, How's that first rainless plug. So if you're ready to start, go ahead and do it. But I'm gonna go through my process when creating this project. Maybe show some tips, some tricks in illustrator to speed up that process to make sure that you're the first post . So let's stop deadly datil in and get that sweet Oh so sweet screen recording test. I'm gonna do the state of Texas. This is where I have been born and raised, and I feel like I've got a good handle on what I'm gonna do. I've done some quick research on dribble, quickly searched for sticker ideas to see different kind of car stickers and bumper stickers, and then also did a quick search on Texas and seeing what everyone's done for the state of Texas and things along that line. So jumping back into illustrator thinking about kind of three themes that can define my Texas, that's gonna be We love the state flag. We love the state shape and we love stakes Doc in cattle stuff. So I grab some inspiration here. Just grab some screen shots. We got brands. You know, we love to make sure everyone knows who's cattles who think of these brands like, uh, Texas Higher cliffs or something. And I like the style of the old Western brands and everything. We got the state flag. We got the state shape itself. I'm gonna start with state shape. This is something that it's a tough shape to make. So I go ahead and I just grabbed my pin tool and I traced this. They had bad boy, cause this thing is a tough one to make. What I'm gonna do is I'm not going to I'm not going to do like each one of these little ridges. I don't think that will really make the sticker look too good. So I'm gonna simplify this shape out a little bit and make it to be something a little warm , a little more manageable. Some might even come back here and grab this guy and pull him down a little bit. There we go. I'm gonna continue the shape on. Think simplifying this out will really help define the shape. In the end, it's just I'm just gonna do all straight lines for now, you know, probably go back in and clean up each point that I make. So, like the way this would look about like Dad. So I have my shape my Texas over here to make this a little bit bulk year down here, toe kind of give it a little more something to stand on. I don't wanna take away the shape of the state. I still wanted to be very recognizable, but have some creative freedom on just how you want things laid out. That's pretty good. I don't want to spend too much time. This is We want to be sure that we're the first opposed, you know. Now I'm wanting to keep it more of a line are kind of like thes brands are I want this to look like a brand, and I'm really envisioning this to be a one color project and thinking this will probably be a window sticker too. So I'm gonna beef up these lines to make it have more that brand feel on it. And I do this pretty big. So as you see, 30 point, um, will work pretty well. If this was smaller, five point might have worked well, but, um, so I'm gonna keep it right there for now. And now let's don't incorporate the flag into this, but do it in a way that it would still kind of look like a brand. So I'm gonna go ahead and grab here and go this star tool in the hold option. So it goes in this Ah, you have this kind of style star here and then holding optional give you that style star. So I'm gonna go. Looks like the flag has more This style start to it. So I'm gonna get this guy going here. 12 keep him on a line here thinking about bringing this line down to make that blue part of the flag. So I need to be a little smaller, have a little room here and then, like, have these lines almost match up. So I'm gonna make sure that they do match up a little bit. Looks like all right. Got lucky. Kneeled it. All right. Still keep in the shape. Very recognizable, but able to play with it more. And it looks like I don't want Teoh. There's too much room here, Maybe around the edges, so that I have more Ramda, come down with this line. All right, So, see, if around here that's not gonna meet up so apologised from here. Go down. Just gonna laying this out, seeing where I want things, and then I can really perfect it whenever I'm more comfortable with where things are. Let's go about all right there. Pretty good. We're getting close. We're getting towards still the state of Texas. You can see the flag poking in there more and more so I'm gonna make it more of a brand kind of thing and kind of admin flair to these to the way this looks. So I'm actually gonna want to I want to keep this pretty clean. Gonna want to stop this line somewhere about there. I think that I'm gonna run this line straight down about there get this little more breathing room there. I know what this start have a little more breathing room to, so maybe. Okay, so the intersected that stars, they're just see how that looks. If I stop this liner here, I'm using a lot of hot keys. So what I'm doing to, I had some of these anchor points is I'm selecting the line. And then I'm pushing my plus key, which brings up my at anchor point Pin tool and where this intersection is between this line in this line, I'm wanting to add a little node there and then coming back with pushing a in getting the select arrow, selecting that line, maybe cutting that right there. And I'm grabbing a and selecting the anchor holding shift to keep that straight, maybe making it the same with their that's coming together. That's becoming something that I'm starting to like more and more. I'm not wanting to spend too much more time with this, but I'm gonna go ahead and clean it up and show you where to go from there with some editing magic. I've got my lines where I want them, but there's just a few more tweaks I want to make. What I'm going to want to do is outline these paths. Now, one thing that will speed up this process and I've been using them along is hot keys or keyboard shortcuts. Now for outlining these lines, I'm going to be doing this a lot in the future. And I've already created a keyboard shortcut to create outlines out of some line work. But let me show you how I did that. So you're going to go toe edit to create your keyboard shortcuts that you see right here. So clicking that and finding out. Okay, look, we have some tools, and we have all these keyboard shortcuts that are already programmed into the software. I'm gonna need to go to Menu Command to find my outline. Shortcuts. So menu command, good object. And now school down to path. Right here and now we got outlines. Stroke. How you do this is you basically find one that you want to create a shortcut for. Grab that type your short cut in and make sure that it's not overriding any other shortcuts so that you now lose a shortcut as well. So I selected this shift command one as my outline strokes, we're gonna do There's push. Okay, Name your new short cut, and you'll be good. So now that we know our new shortcut for outlining strokes, I'm gonna play with this a little bit. Another thing I've noticed is I don't like how these angles come out so far, so I'm gonna want to. I like the way the star looks like that. Yeah, right there. So I'm gonna edit the corner to be that cut off corner. But I don't like the way it looks anywhere else. Really? I only like the way it looks on the edge of this star. So want me to do is I'm gonna duplicate this and place it right over someone hit command, see for copy and then command F, which is paste in place. What I'm going to do there is now on this one. That's right above it. I'm gonna make those bevel join corners so it doesn't look like anything happen. But if I grab that copied line, you can see that it worked. All right, So what I'm gonna do is select all of these and hit my new hot key shift command one and all of my strokes are outlined. If you notice here one of our select because there's two here we have this weird stuff going on and room. Remember, I just want to cut off these tips here. So what I'm going to do, I'm actually gonna go to Pathfinder, where you can find this is thru window Pathfinder in this little toolbar will pop up. You can throw it onto your tools here, and I'm going to divide this stuff. It's now it's divided. It's all cut up. I'm gonna jump into here. Now I'm gonna do is quickly just delete all those corners. Nice. It's basically exactly the way I want it. And I don't like those to be in all those small pieces, So I'm gonna select everything and just bring him back together. Join them together right here with this unite button. All right, That's basically exactly the way I want it. So I don't want to accidentally move any of these things. So I'm just gonna group all these three pieces together with command G. All right now, I can't take these apart anything. All right, so this is good. Now my strokes are outlined. so that they do not change. In case the sponsored the contest wants a vector file, they won't accidentally move things around cause it's grouped also, and they can't change the stroke because the stroke is now aligned. So we are ready to go with this now for mine. I'm going to present the sticker as a white sticker. So I'm wanting this to be on the window. So I like the way the white seekers look on the window. So I'm gonna go ahead and for just to show the sticker really well, with high contrast there. So that's my presentation for the sticker, and I'll go ahead and jump into Photoshopped and show you how we're gonna mock this up. It'll be really easy. So we finished our sticker and now we're ready to mock it up. I'm opening up Adobe Photoshopped right now. I found an image of a car that I'd like to put the sticker on, and I'm going to include some images of these cars so that you can do the mock up process really easy without having to dick for some car images. But feel free to find your own if you want go back to Illustrator. We have our sticker here. Go and copy it. And in photo shop, we're gonna go ahead and paste it. Smart object that'll work for me, and we'll go ahead and sighs this to. Besides, we think this is gonna be, um, didn't be pretty good at some little Texas pride to this orange bug here. That's pretty good size for a window sticker. All right, So because this is a smart object, we'll need a rash. Arise it to really make it look like it's actually on this window. As you can tell right now, it's really flat. This The state of Texas is pointing towards us, but the bug is kind of angled away, So go ahead and hit command T to transform. I'm gonna hold command while I grab these little nodes here. Minha kind of aligned this base a little bit with the bottom of this window here, try to make it a little parallel and kind of make it kind of play with it. The dimensions of it. Try to get that perspective right, like it's actually stuck to that window and you play with it more, but that's pretty good right there. Now, if you notice also, it still looks kind of different. Just because this is so crisp in the background, you can see is just a little fuzzy. So let's go ahead and make these kind of look like they're in the same image to making sure that this is still selected. I'm going to go toe filter, blur. And then Ghazi Ambler, This is great because it has a real time preview. So if I go there, you know it disappears because it's way too blurry. That's still way too blurry. And that's even too blurry. So let's try toe match. What kind of blur is actually in the photograph behind it? So kind of around this range here is looking pretty good. So I'm just gonna go ahead and hit, OK, there and now it looks like it's actually part of this image. All right, so we've mocked this up. We've gotten the sticker. Go ahead and export your stuff posted in your project, include, be sure to include that state capital or ah, Providence Capital, our country capital in there to make sure you got that right. Be sure that your projects 123 colors and you're ready to post your project in the frantic section. So one wish you guys good luck. I want to thank you all for taking this class. It's been a blast, and I hope that you have had a great time and have learned a lot in that you'll have a lot of success success in future contests.