Photoshop Tennis is one of those things that can only happen in the sacrosanct madness of the internet. The essence of the competition is this:

  • There are two competitors.
  • There is a 'serve' image, produced by one competitor or a referee.
  • The first competitor edits the image and posts the result via e-mail or forum, and sends it to their opponent in flat form such as jpeg, gif or png (not as a Photoshop file).
  • The opponent edits that image and sends it back, and so forth until...
  • A set limit, or until one of the competitors quits.
  • The winner is determined by vote of the audience.
This is the essence of the competition. There are variations on the rules.

Rules and variations

The rules set out in the Wired article on the subject state that this sport is mainly played by professional web designers, and that the editing done is in the form of adding exactly one image layer per round, and that the competition continues until one player quits. The article also says that the competition happens in real time, ending in a few hours at most. I don't know the 'official rules',

I myself am presently involved in a match of P.T. with a very different set of rules. These rules are oriented more toward an informal community setting within a forum (a web BBS or Usenet, or even an IRCbot would do just fine) and since I know them in detail, here they are:

  • An outside party picks a serve image and gives it to one of the competitors.
  • The competitors 'volley' a set number of times (3, in my case) by manipulating the image in any way, including changing the size or merely 'quoting' the last image in a major way.
  • After the set number of volleys, the audience votes, and the winner is chosen. If a competitor fails to 'volley' back in less than a set time limit (48 hours), they lose.
This sort of competition lends itself to a single or double elimination tournaments, provided there are enough competitors. I am presently involved in an 8 person, double-elimination game and am favoured to reach the next round.

A similar, detailed set of rules is available at the "" link below. Details include setting a theme for the contest, setting a specific canvas size, and a much longer time limit of 2 weeks per volley.

Photoshop and alternatives

It is most common for all competitors to use Photoshop. I assume this is doubly true in the 'professional' circuit. However, the few forums I have browsed indicate that it is acceptable to use any image editor, moreso since it is impossible to tell which editor a person is using. I personally use The GIMP, because I use Linux and don't want to purchase Photoshop. I have even seen some low-level competitors using Microsoft Paint, though this is a good way to lose fast against anyone else.

If you have anything relevant for me to add here, please let me know.

Sources and helpful links:

  • Adobe Photoshop

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