Favorite Quote: STFUAC
Favorite Movie: Too many to name.
Favorite Book: Douglas Adams, Piers Anthony, etc.
Favorite Bands: Can we ask about genres instead?
Favorite Songs: Don't think I have one.
Favorite Photoshop Tool: Imagination (and masks).
How did you get your PSC nickname?
Combination of stupid stories actually. I was trying to give remote tech assistance to my sister-in-law over the internet. I needed to create an MSN account to start the chat session. Every version of my own name was taken. At work they called me "Topher" so I tried that and all variants were taken. So then "Tofu" popped in my head. Taken. Suddenly I thought of Alexander the Great and knew that "TofuTheGreat" wouldn't be taken at any site/service that required registration. I mean who would come up with a name that stupid? Wait.
What is your real name and age?
Christopher. Age depends on the current date doesn't it? Chronologically I'm an adult.
Where are you from and what do you like best about being there?
Originally Idaho, then California and now Wisconsin. The best part about Wisconsin is the quiet, unassuming, life I get to lead.
What do you do to keep the bills paid?
Paid nerd. I went back to school to earn a degree in Computer Information Systems in time to cash in on the Y2K scare. For 10 years I worked for the county government. Then I escaped to the private sector. Currently I'm a web developer, pc tech, database admin, network support, and all around general IT guy for a log home manufacturer.
What do you do in your spare time?
TV. Boring ain't it? I'm hoping to change that as I can't stand that I'm addicted to the tube. Gotta ween myself off it.
How did you find PSC, and what do you like most about the site?
Used to hang around on Fark and when I first started doing web development I'd need graphics for the site backgrounds and such. To learn more about Macromedia Fireworks I'd participate in Fark's Photoshop Phriday contests. They weren't very organized and so I searched for "photoshop contests". Found W1K and PSC. W1K seemed to be full of arrogant asshats while PSC had everyone from newb to guru. I saw some weaker entries that were still getting treated nicely! People were actually helping the newbs learn! I knew that PSC was the place for me. Then, after an entry or two, my PC died. After much rebuilding (and an influx of work) I lost track of PSC for about a year. Came back and have been rooted ever since.
If you could change one thing at PSC, what would it be and why?
I'd bring back the sense of teaching. There used to be a lot of people who would give tips, tricks and advice. It wasn't all about winning and was more about the learning. Prizes came along and screwed that up I think. That and the 30-day advantage. I never had chopper's block so bad until 30-day advantage kicked in. It was like image overload. So I guess I'd bring back two things. 7-day advantage and prizes only for specialty contests like the H2H (and maybe the reunion).
Is there any other information about you would like to pass on?
People need to get over the voting thing here! It's a contest for nothing but bragging rights! It's not like winning a PSC contest will suddenly bring you the fame and fortune you feel you deserve. Quit worrying about the outcome and start looking at each chop as a learning experience.
How many hours per week do you spend on PSC?
How many hours are there in a week again?
What other sites, not Photoshop related, do you like to surf?
Webcomics. They're a guilty pleasure that I start each weekday with.
What tools do you use to chop?
PC with XP and CS3 (hey that rhymes). I've got interest in learning 3D tools like blender, sketchup, etc. But I'm lazy (and addicted to TV remember?)
What gets your creative juices flowing, how do you create a masterpiece?
Sudden inspiration lately. I don't get to chop very often anymore (friggin TV). So when I do it's because I got a sudden inspiration for a chop and a burning desire to see it through.
What inspires you?
Fantasy fiction books. Robert Lynn Aspirin's stuff is good. Some science fiction. I'm a picky reader unfortunately.
Do you have a system? Does a chop have to be done a certain way following steps or are you a messy chopper and just go with the flow?
Depends on my mood. I try to keep my layers organized but sometimes it's Layer 0, Layer 0 copy, Layer 0 copy copy, Layer 0 copy copy copy, etc. About the only consistent thing I do is copy the source image and put the original layer in a group/folder that I then turn off visibility and lock. At least that way I have the source to go back to as often as needed.
What style of chop do you prefer to create?
I like photo-reals with externals. All-sources are impressive but seem limited a lot by what the source is. And I'd much rather see a funny or surreal chop than a touchy-feely artsy fartsy chop.
Filters, brushes and techniques: Which do you use, and not use, and why?
Rey has convinced me to use filters only as a starting point. I don't use them much at all anymore (other than the blurs or distorts). I can honestly say that doing things on your own teaches you more about the art of chopping. Gotta love channels too. They're powerful!
When do you know that you have it just right, or is it constant changes up until, or after, you post?
I never know. I've had a handful of my chops that literally made me smile and occasionally giggle while I made them. I knew that those would be well received and I was right.
What is the limit to what you will chop?
I will not mock anyone's religious beliefs. That's just rude. People should be allowed to believe what they want just as others are allowed to not believe it. If you don't share someone else's political or religious view then get over it. Free agency is the right of every human being. My only exception to this rule is the farce of Pastafarians and the FSM. That's not a religion and they know it. It's mocking the concept of religion and beliefs of others, they know it, and it's rude. Grrrr!
Are there any tips and/or tricks that you would like to pass along to less experienced choppers?
Worry less about the voting and friendships. Participate to learn and have fun! Don't be afraid to ask for help on an image (just don't do it with vote whoring in mind). PSCers respect people who are willing to learn and take constructive criticism for what it's worth.
What is your favorite type of source image, and why?
I like objects. Keep people, plants, landscapes, etc. for externals and not sources. Some of the all-time best chops on this site came from object sources.
There is often talk about how the source is used and to what extent it should be. What are your views on all sources, outside source use and animations?
All sources are cool when done well. But people seem to think all source automatically means votes. If it looks like crap I'm not gonna vote for it just because it's all source. Also quit with the author's notes of "all source except for part a, b and c". If there's externals then it's NOT ALL SOURCE! DUH! Oh and stop with the "all source and PS tools" shite. All source without "PS tools" would be the source pic. That's the whole point of the site is to use "PS tools" to manip the pic! DUH!
What is your preferred resource for outside source images?
Was Google, now sxc.hu and deviantart.com. Flikr occasionally.
In your opinion what makes a good chop?
Idea/Theme first followed by execution and authenticity. Bonus points for humor in my book.
Do you have a system to get things started?
Have you ever completed a chop and then decided not to enter it in the contest? If so, why?
More times than I can count! My hard drive's "image library" has a folder for PSC contests and it's littered with chops I didn't enter. Usually it's because I couldn't finish in time. More often than not it's because I couldn't pull off the look/effect I was trying to achieve and then time ran out. I don't know why I keep these unfinished chops around.
After you finish your chop do you just post it or seek opinions of family and/or fellow choppers first?
It varies. Sometimes I'll run it by my wife or son. But usually I'll just post it and go about updating it from the feedback I get on the chop. Occasionally I've sought the advice of billtvshow, TheShaman, marcoballistic and a few others before a comp started.
If some one finds a fault in your work do you change it or stay with what you posted?
I change it if I have time (or can interpret what they're saying). The ability to edit during a comp is the beauty of PSC. That's how we learn!
What qualities do you look for when deciding to vote on a chop?
Idea/Theme first followed by execution and authenticity. Bonus points for humor in my book. (sounds familiar). If I see a weaker chop done by someone who is consistently trying to improve, then I may cast the "effort vote".
Some member prefer not to vote for filtered chops or animations. Is there any particular style/type of chop you won't vote for?
Blatant filters with no effort bug the snot outta me. Anyone can run a pic through every filter and plug-in they've got. That doesn't equate to effort or talent. It's lazy and I will not vote for it.
Time is always a factor, how much time do you spend on a chop and how much time is too much?
Depends on the chop. I really don't care about winning anymore and so I've thrown out some goofy stuff just for the hell of it. They've tanked and I knew they would so I won't update them. But it was fun to do at the time.
We all love to get votes. Now are you a constant vote checker or do you just let it go and check once a day? (be honest)
Depends on the chop again. If it's a chop that made me smile or giggle while I worked on it then I may check the votes regularly throughout the day to see how others reacted to it. Actually it's not the votes even. It's the comments I love. I still hold that I would rather have a chop get comments than votes. I like the reactions and things people say.
What chop of yours did not do as well as you expected?
http://photoshopcontest.com/view-entry/156646/squirrels-of-war-edit.html didn't do as well as I thought it would. I thought it was funny. Heck I still do.
What do you consider your best chop so far?
That's easy. My first team chop I did "Whale Watching" http://photoshopcontest.com/view-entry/94391/whale-watching.html. There's so many externals in there! My favorite chop of my own would have to be http://photoshopcontest.com/view-entry/84036/pigeon-punting.html. It's a simple chop but the humor in it still makes me smile and giggle.
What do you consider your worst chop so far?
Don't go there. ;)
Who is your favorite chopper out there and why?
Currently I think I have to favor Claf (http://photoshopcontest.com/portfolio/14493/index.html). His attention to detail is amazing.
What do you NOT like to see in a chop, and why not?
Ridiculing someone's beliefs. It's rude to ridicule.
What is the best chop of all time?
Yeah right! That changes all the time.
Do you have any other PSC related comments to add?
Feel the love! Don't hold back the helpful critique, mini-tut, etc. Help others to learn or PSC will fade away.