Tuesday 8 January 2013

How to win the Lulupu Challenges: Tips from the Design Team

We have had a lot of questions about how we select the winners for our monthly challenges. Also, some of you have wondered why you didn’t win even though your project was great and a lot of effort went into creating it. There have also been questions about what YOU can do to ensure that your entry to our challenges, wins. So we decided to give you a few pointers that you need to keep in mind and let you know what we look for in our Winning and Top 3 entries.

Here’s the list. It is a bit detailed, but we are sure you would get some great tips from this. :)

Also, we need to warn you that this is a picture heavy post. But we feel that they will only make explaining stuff easier. :)

Fulfil the requirements of the Challenge

This seems to be very obvious, but still needs to be said because sometimes it can be confusing. It’s obvious that you can’t make a Card for a challenge that requires Lay Outs or not use stamps for a Stamping Challenge. It’s the other stuff.

At the start of every challenge, we – The Lulupu Design Team - specify what we look for, what is expected out of you, what you can do and what you can’t. But sometimes we are unable to fit every possible ‘do’ or ‘don’t’ into our list and we have seen that such situations have created confusions in the past. So our advice to you is...

If you are ever in doubt about whether you can or cannot do something for your challenge entry, feel free to ask the DT by leaving a comment on the Challenge post or simply send a personal email at hello@lulupu.com and one of us will respond to your query at the earliest.

But the important thing to remember here is to ask us BEFORE you start your project because we don’t want you to put all your efforts on something to participate in our challenge and then realise that it doesn’t fit our criteria.

Some tips on how to make your projects better

These tips will not only help you with our challenges, but with any project you make, EVER.


Even when you do everything as per our requirements, sometimes it is not enough and we’ll tell you why. When the Lulupu Design Team sets out a challenge, it is supposed to be exactly that – a CHALLENGE. It is designed to test your limits, to get you out of your comfort zone and to let you explore your creativity. And believe us when we say this, even the Design Team experiments with these challenges and tries new things.

Not only do we go through our own process of trial and error till we get it right, we spend weeks brainstorming and discussing ideas for new challenges and it can be hard to come up with something different each month, especially when we have to make sure that it has to be innovative while at the same time shouldn’t restrict your creativity, and we expect the same from you – that is, to put in efforts to do something innovative and creative.

We saw some great work in our ‘This used to be...’ challenge and we loved the response so much that we didn’t know who to pick as the winner. And that’s the kind of stuff we are looking for.

But just to give you an example (and this does not point to any person or entry in specific) let’s talk about the ‘My Favourite Four’ challenge. This challenge allowed you to pick a row, column or diagonal with four great options in each.

Let’s say you had options like – Button, Ribbon, Stamping and Glitter. What we would love to see was how you used all of these in your project making them an integral part of it rather than seeing a project with one button somewhere on the project, a piece of ribbon or string hanging on one end and so on. What we don’t want to see is you ensuring that every element forms a part of your project (technically qualifying your entry) without really bothering about how it is done.

It’s not about what you do; it’s HOW you do it that makes a world of difference. 
It is how to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary.

To put it simply, we would like to see you put your heart and soul into your projects. That’s all. And given that even beginners on the block are talented crafters, this shouldn’t be so hard. :)

Neatness and Finesse

It’s not always necessary to fill the entire space in a card or a Layout. Sometimes, less is more.

{Image Source: Picture 1 | Picture 2}

Unless done very, very carefully, embellishing all over the place may end up looking cluttered and shabby. However, here are a few examples showing you that more can be good too, as long as you know what you are doing.

 {Image Source: Picture 1 | Picture 2Picture 3 | Picture 4}

When in doubt, go with less.

The other important thing is to do a clean job whether it is cutting the PP, stamping images or sentiments, colouring them in, layering or gluing pieces together, distressing – anything and everything. Avoid shabbily cut PP, blurred images or sentiments when stamping, etc. and that will make for a neater and cleaner project.


{Image Source: Picture 1 | Picture 2 | Picture 3 | Picture 4}

Colour co-ordination.

This should be done ALWAYS. It’s not said enough, but it may be as important as the rest of your project because let’s face it, handmade or not, shouldn’t it look pretty? And colours that go with each other always help achieve that goal.

How to pick & match colours

If you find it difficult to match colours or you can’t think of a good colour combination, you can do any of these things..

(1) If you pick one pastel colour, pick all pastels.  If you pick one bright, pick all brights. If you pick one neon, pick all neons.

You can make an exception if you are confident that a certain pastel and a certain neon or bright will make a good combination, because sometimes it’s good to follow your heart.

E.g.: Baby Pink, Pista Green and NEON colours – BAD idea.
But, Baby Pink, Pista Green, Sky Blue – Awesome. Get the idea?
Here are some pictures to give you a better idea.


{Image Source: Picture 1 | Picture 2 | Picture 3}


{Image Source: Picture 1 | Picture 2 | Picture 3}


(2) Pick colours in the same family.
E.g.: Shades of Blue, Lavender and Purple or Shades of Pink, Red and Maroon or Shades of Yellow, Orange and Red, etc. They always work.

 {Image Source: Picture 1 | Picture 2 | Picture 3}

(3) When you can't think of a colour combination, you can start with choosing any multicoloured PP and pick the colours on it. It always helps. And it works even better if you use the PP and the co-ordinating colours in the same project.

This is the first thing that you should look for when you’re using PPs because you need everything to match with the PP.


{Image Source: Picture 1 | Picture 2 | Picture 3 | Picture 4}

(4) You can also choose a pretty and colourful picture and pick colours from that. You won't believe the amazing combinations you can get just out of looking at pretty pictures.

Patterned Paper co-ordination & Matching Embellishments 

This is an extension of colour co-ordination but we’ll talk more about co-ordinating PP (when you use two or more PPs in one project) and matching embellishments.

All the rules of colour co-ordination apply to PPs and embellishments as well.

A. Patterned Paper

Before we discuss PP rules, we would like to let you know that the DT saw this first at Kristina Werner’s blog where she did a series on ‘How to use your Patterned Paper.’ Unfortunately, we don’t have the link to the specific post(s) and/or video(s). But here are a few things to remember.

(1) Choose one PP with Large/Medium patterns + One PP with small patterns + One solid pattern.
(2) Choose only one multicoloured PP – this will help to match other single coloured PPs from other paper packs as well.)
(3) Plan ahead as to how you will use each PP – as in, which one will be in focus and which one(s) will be added as accents.
(4) While using more than one PP, use papers from the same pack as far as possible. This will ensure that the papers are already colour co-ordinated. However, if you are confident that you can match papers from different packs/collection kits, who are we to stop you? :) (This one is from the Lulupu DT :D)

This will help a great deal in adding variety and colour to your projects.


{Image Source: Picture 1 | Picture 2 | Picture 3 | Picture 4}

B. Embellishments

Embellishments add life to your projects! Whether they are buttons, twine, banners, flags, flowers, charms; there are so many possibilities. And because of that, we sometimes feel the need to use too many of them on one project when it really may not be necessary. Less is more – works even here. In fact, it works everywhere! {See earlier pictures for examples}

Use Sketches

There are times when we have all the stuff we want to use, but we have no clue as to what goes where and designing the card becomes a little difficult. Sketches for cards and layouts could be a great way to get started on you project and then let your creativity take over.


The only basis we have to judge your work is by looking at pictures of your project. So you can imagine how important the pictures become. Even the best of projects can seem not-so-great if the pictures aren’t clicked well.

So how can you click good pictures?
  • Use a good camera. It need not be an expensive DSLR or even a digital camera. Some phones have great cameras. See which one works best for you and use that.
  • Always click pictures in good lighting. Natural light will always give good results, but you can click excellent pictures even in artificial light if you position your projects properly.
  • Clear the clutter near and/or around your project. You don’t want a great picture ruined because there was a stamp cover or a torn piece of PP in the background.
  • However, you can add decorative items and place them strategically around your project. For example, a roll of twine matching with/used in your project, a few pearls or gems or petals strewn around the project. This is not necessary but it makes your pictures better.
{Image Source: Picture 1Picture 2Picture 3Picture 4Picture 5Picture 6}

  • Having a PP (preferably of a size larger than your project) in the background, and then clicking the picture also gives a better looking image. It looks even better if the PP is in contrast to the PP/colours used on your project.
           E.g., If you have used solid PP on your project, used a printed or multicoloured PP in the background and vice-versa. If you have a light coloured PP on your project, use a darker colour or a contrasting colour in the background and vice versa.


{Image Source: Picture 1 | Picture 2 | Picture 3 | Picture 4}

As an example of the fact that if you know what to focus on, you can eliminate any amount of clutter around your project, take a look at the picture of all the actual stuff on the table...


and the resultant picture of just the card...

It's as simple as that! :)

Watch, Observe & Learn

You can never know enough. Even if you’ve been crafting for ages, it’s always good to know what others have been up to and how they do what they do, because there is no end to learning. Newbies, our advice to you is...

Don’t just watch. Observe. Try and figure out what it is about a project that makes it so appealing and pretty, that makes it stand out. And see how you are different from the crafters and projects that you admire or what it is that you are doing wrong.

That is how we have all learnt – more or less. Fellow crafters need not be just a source of inspiration. They can teach us so many things without even knowing it!!

To Summarise

What the DT looks for in your Challenge entries, is listed below in the order of importance.

(1) Whether the instructions and rules of the challenge for qualification have been followed without exception.
(2) How the idea is executed – The more creative and innovative your project, the higher are your chances of winning.
(3) How the project looks – This is in terms of neatness, finishing and overall appeal.

We hope this helped. Please feel free to ask us anything about the challenges, or help with any product or project that you may be working with/on. We are happy to help you in any way we can.

Team Lulupu.


  1. Wow... Lots of stuff to learn (to win) in this post for an amateur like me. A very good post Nikita.

  2. thanks for detailed and elabrate knowledge,but i think LUCK is also most important aspect ,which works along.I have seen every doing great effort,and make thier projects good going ,its luck ,which decide's-what will hit to DT'S mind.

    1. Megha, we can't speak for other challenges, but as far as Lulupu is concerned, LUCK has nothing to do with winning our challenges because we don't pick winners on a random basis yet. We evaluate all entries based on merit, i.e., the criteria specified above and shortlist entries accordingly. The Design Team then takes a vote and unanimously decides on a winner (the entry that as maximum votes)and this takes about one or two days after the challenge closes. That's the reason we declare the winner on the 3rd of every month.

      I hope this helps and answers your questions.

      Good luck for your future entries.
      Team Lulupu. :)

  3. Wow such a lovely poat, hats off to the effort put in for elaborating the selection criteria and also giving examples.

  4. Great stuff, lovely examples and clear words, thanks for the post. :)

  5. Very wise advice. I keep seeing cards made by people who have so many things jostling for attention. (I'm probably simply jealous that they have pattern paper, dies, accessories and tools that I don't...so yea, a case of sour grapes! ;)). But really, sometimes there's so much on the plate, its chaotic. Even if were a busy design, I wish there was some thought put into it and perhaps a method to the madness.
    I love your post and I'm including it on my blog (with your permission) to remind me of where I'm going wrong, and where to better my craft.

    1. Dear Natasha,

      We wrote this with the hope that this post helps crafters with any queries they have about creating a great project, and the point seems to have hit home. We are glad you feel that way. :)

      Just a small question though. What do you mean by 'including it on your blog'? It was kind of confusing.

      Thanks for appreciating our effort.
      Team Lulupu.

  6. hey thats an interesting and a very useful post ...have saved this one ..thank you :)

  7. This is a very interesting post indeed thanx to the DT members for putting it together, it will not only help a crafter have a better understanding of the challenge but it is overall a very good to know information to better you skills and a great reminder of things that will help make better projects thans a ton, kudos to the DT.


Thank you for your comments and feedback.