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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK
Playing picture perfect tennis
BBC Go Digital's Jon Wurtzel casts a wry eye over developments in the world of technology

A new kind of tennis has been served online.

Called Photoshop tennis the players are graphic designers, the balls are images, and the racquets are stored in your computer.

Photoshop is the standard graphic design programme for computer artists worldwide.

It works by using a system of layers - background, foreground, with multiple slices in between, each forming an element of the image.

International rally

To start a match one player e-mails a Photoshop image to the other containing a single layer.

Popular among graphic designers
The opponent takes this image, adds a new layer to create a whole new picture and returns it to their opponent.

In this way, the Tower of London can be transported to New Delhi then given a purple paint job.

This rally carries on with each player adding new layers, evolving the images until the match ends.

This is decided either by a time limit, a forfeit or mutual consent.

The matches are played live online at, where the spectators can add comments in real time, and then vote for a winner.

Showing off

Photoshop tennis is more than just an interesting visual exercise.

It's a place to show off your design skills and display your wares in a competitive job market.

And because it uses images, not words, people from all over the world can join in whatever language they speak.

A typical Photoshop tennis match

New layers are added to the original image

The opposing side plays with the face, turning it into a negative

And the other player volleys back, taking the image further

You can hear Jon every week on Go Digital, which is webcast on the BBC World Service site and BBC News Online every Monday at 1500 GMT.

It is broadcast on BBC World Service radio on:

  • Tuesday at 1905 GMT
  • Wednesday at 0105 and 1405 GMT
  • Thursday at 0905 GMT
See also:

10 Aug 01 | Film
Q&A: Creating a fantasy
21 Oct 00 | Education
Quake blows away design problems
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