Ping Pong Paddle.

Ryan Schenk challenged me to a duel of sorts.

MSPaint vs. Photoshop

How close could I get in replicating his sweet ping pong paddle graphic.

First, Ryan Schenk’s:



A few things to notice:
1. the TIGHT gradient of the paddle itself – this is extremely difficult to duplicate. If you have firefox and can zoom in on the image, the gradient doesn’t appear until about 6x. Prior to starting the paddle, I expected this to be the greatest challenge.
2. soft edges. This isn’t too bad in MSPaint. If you have a color you can “softify” the edges by pulling up the gradient wheel and finding and dividing the color shade column into quarters. By doing rings of lighter colors the edges become softer.
3. The Shadow. Prior to starting, I didn’t think this would be an issue. As it happens, finding the ideal gray scale was far harder than I expected.

So how did I do?



Here’s my method:

First I created what I deemed an appropriate shape using the SPLINE tool. I got as close as I could. The perfect curve of Schenk’s paddle was hard to replicate.

Next, was the handle. I opened up my color wheel and created three or four custom Mike D gradients using the Gradient print screen trick.


You can see the distinct black outline of the spline curve as well as a mostly textured handle. Once the colors were available, the handle wasn’t a problem.


Here’s my first attempt at the gradient. Horrible! You can see I was using a black-red to white-red mix, and the gradient was FAR too dramatic. You’ll also noticed the shape changed slightly. I removed a handful of pixels off the left side as it made the paddle appear misshapen.


For this next attempt, I tried to just go from the white-red to red. It’s better… but still too much. Then I discovered something. If instead of copying the gradient out of the color wheel, I actually copied the red edge of the gradient field… I could get an EXTREMELY tight gradient.


Just above the paddle in this picture is the gradient I used. The gradient was SO tight that I had to make little ‘turrets’ underneath in order to indicate where the color was changing.

After that, I just took the simple gray scale that’s on the left and started work on the shadow. Originally, I was expecting it to be three pixels thick. This DID NOT WORK. My end result was more like 7 pixels. It was also tough to make it look like a distinct shadow and not just a weird growth off the side of the paddle.

You’ll notice that in between this and the last picture the depth of the gray gradient changed. The dark end of the gray scale was WAY too dark. This helped my shadow work a lot.

Once the shadow was done, I softened the edges of the paddle and removed my gradients. I tried a couple different tricks of shrinking the image and enlarging it again. If done in MSPaint this will have the effect of auto-gradient. Amazingly, this method didn’t produce anything as good as what I had pre size changes.


At this point, I wanted to make a few final changes. I didn’t like the intersection where the paddle meets the handle and the shadow. so I made a few minor changes and finished her up.


So there you have it.

I’m very proud. I think Schenk’s is still sweeter, so Photoshop can take the win. But once again, MSPaint has provided surprisingly good results. With more practice, my MSPaint skills will continue to grow and the Photoshop-MSPaint gap will continue to narrow.

7 thoughts on “Ping Pong Paddle.

  • 7/19/2007 at 4:23 pm

    The ping pong paddle graphic is the basis of a Dashboard Widget I’m making called PNGpong, which will strip color “correction” and other meta tags out of PNG files, and then compress them.

    Also, Mike D, I can’t believe you anti-aliased the paddle by hand. That’s really quite disgusting.

  • 7/19/2007 at 4:35 pm

    You are the John Henry of digital art.

  • 7/19/2007 at 4:51 pm

    ha ha! Thanks!

    We must respect previous technologies. They have a potential far greater than any of us expect. Really? I think I’ve just barely touched the tip of the MSPaint iceberg.

  • 7/19/2007 at 8:12 pm

    Dude, if you put the effort into climbing what you put into MSpaint, you would be climbing way harder than me by now….wait a minute….right, you already do climb way harder than me.

  • 7/19/2007 at 8:27 pm

    I appreciate the effort but I just think you’re limiting yourself to the 8bitness of MSpaint.

    However, as far as 8bitness is concerned, you should challenge eboy

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