Some thoughts from the inaugural Layer Tennis match that happened in real—read: really slow at times—time earlier this afternoon.

Give me 252,000 pixels, competent design and wit. Oh and you only have 15 minutes and can’t use found art. How does that old designer’s adage go? “You can have good, fast and cheap—pick two.”

Kevin’s brilliant serve left me asking, “What have I gotten myself into?” Sure, I’ve been designologuing more recently but I am still primarily an interface designer. Rather than ignore that fact I embraced it with my return volley.

I snagged the orange from a post in this past summer’s archive (right around the solstice) and stuck to what I knew. Tabs. Rounded corners. Login forms. Oh my. I think I managed to inject some humor at the same time though. Not my strongest image but not a bad start by any means.

Initial reaction, “What did he do to all of our beautiful layers?! This isn’t print out the last image and mail it to yourself tennis!” Mind racing, I considered designing a label for a pouch of goat’s blood and even went so far as to fill a ziplock bag with water and red food coloring but the lighting in my office just wasn’t playing nice (neither was the 900x280 format).

Not sure this image ever fully recovered. Dan Mall in the Forum totally nailed the reason why: it doesn’t say anything visually. It relies on the text to communicate. Bad Shaun. What should have been a Monty Python-esque character responding under his breath to the narrator fell flat. Even the Marker Felt taunt directed at the commentary booth couldn’t save it. Over my time limit already, forget about addressing my crimes against kerning. Better luck next time.

I think Kevin was feeling the time pressure on this one. The inclusion of my previous volley was cursory (not undeservedly though). The type and masks appeared to have been done in haste. That boosted my confidence. And his sheep had given me an in. Something I could sink my teeth into.

The sheep looked tired. The perceived weakness was embiggening. I couldn’t resist the pun—or the half-a-decade old grunge brushes sitting on my harddrive. I hit the court swinging with an end-game in mind.

Kevin totally lost me here but my previous attack left me momentum enough.

I printed out the image and channelled my animal nicksake. I chewed up the print out and rubbed it in some dirt outside the house (the new neighbors probably think I’m crazy). Kevin was kind enough to hook me up with the wolf illustrations—his own worst enemy? Gruber and the crowd seemed to eat it up but I don’t really care for this image. I was (again) way over time so I chose posture over coherent design. It’s leading up to something but it feels haphazard. Did I blow my big push?

While this image was gorgeous it didn’t push back too hard. My ducks, or sheep rather, were still in a row for the final image.

Layers and lots of them. I’m really happy with how the closing return played out. It’s chaotic but there’s composition. The wolves peak. The Beast King speaks. The sheep, well, the sheep didn’t quite make it. But elements from six of the nine previous images did.

Was it enough to cinch a come-from-behind victory? Well, that’s entirely up to you. Let the powers that be know who you think won in the Layer Tennis Forums.

A Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing
(D)in rainbows
Shaun Inman
September 28th, 2007 at 8:40 pm