March 4, 2013

Pointers When Entering Breakthrough, 2013 edition

When you enter a contest, whether it be for our Breakthrough Contest, or the myriad of other illustration competitions out there, it is very important that you present yourself in the most optimal way possible.

Some contests judge images individually and specific illustrations (vs specific illustrators) are chosen for awards and features. In this case, it is not as important to present a portfolio as whole and you might even opt to send only one image.

In other contests, it is the illustrator that is chosen to receive an award. This means that a complete and consistent portfolio comprised of only the best images you have is key to getting noticed. This is certainly the case with our Breakthrough Contest. We want to make sure that you put your best foot forward. It would certainly be very upsetting if your portfolio was dismissed because of an error like wrong file type, poor image quality, or an misrepresenting set of images.

Here are some pointers about how to maximize your potential to win any contest:
  • Presenting your portfolio
    • Take a look at the maximum amount of images you are allowed to submit. Is it pay per image? Or are you allowed to send multiple images in one package?  In the case of our contest, you have only one option of up to 5 portfolio images.
    • Try to use all of the space you are given. It is very difficult to judge a portfolio based on less than 4 images. 
    • That being said, submit only your most consistent and best work. If you work in multiple styles, choose one or the other, not both. When judges see multiple styles in one portfolio (for example, comic book and realistic painting) they are much more likely to give lower scores. If you are keen on sending your multiple styles though, than choose a package that allows for more images (like our 50 image option). This way, you can send more than one style with enough images to support them.  
    • Also, have the best scans you possibly can. Taking a photo of your art from a bad angle with poor lighting will not reflect well on your image. 
    • However, scanning is not always an option so when taking a photo, make the necessary adjustments on photoshop so it looks as close to what it would be in person as possible. 
  • Saving for Web
    • Ok, so you chose the images you would like to submit and now run into this problem: How do I retain the image quality and still meet the file size requirements? Most contests have strict rules regarding the maximum file size you can submit. Saving for web is the best way to ensure you show a high quality image that fits the restrictions. Take a look at how to do this on Adobe's website.
    • For the Breakthrough Contest specifically, our requirement is that the image be no more than 535 pixels wide and no more than 1mb file size. So what you would do first is change the size to reflect this, than save for web according the instructions fromAdobe so that the file size comes as close to 1mb as possible without exceeding it. And voila! You have a crisp, high quality image that fits. 
    • Also, take a look at file types and file name requirements. Most of the time only .jpg and .jpeg file types are acceptable. Breakthrough's system rejects other files types so you have a chance to change and re-upload, but this is not the case with all contests. The worst thing would be to submit an image and have it show up blank on the other side. 
    • Make sure the image is in the proper format! RGB and CMYK color modes are 2 very different things (yet virtually impossible to detect unless you look at the image properties) and could mean the difference between your image getting uploaded or rejected.Breakthrough needs RGB as will most other contests. (Read this article to learn more about the diference and how to switch between them).
    • When naming your files, avoid special characters! Only use English letters and numbers (no punctuation marks, foreign letters, etc). This is a must when submitting toBreakthrough but not necessarily with other contests. It is best to err on the side of caution and avoid them altogether. So the best file name should look like this: johndoe1.jpg

So, now you have your images, they are in the proper format, and represent you in the best way possible. If you are still having technical problems, you can always contact the company in charge of the contest for help. In our case, feel free to email us and we will get back to you asap.

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