Sand sculpture contests are popping up everywhere with nearly every beachside community scheduling at least one competition during the busy vacation season.
You may never compete at the masters level but here are some tips that could very well earn you placement in the top rankings.
Try to pin down an idea that the judges might not have seen before. Castles are fun to build and a perennial (and personal) favorite - but don't feel that is what you have to build to win. If architecture is your thing, consider creating a cluster of skyscrapers (lots of windows) or a row of little gingerbread houses with chimneys dribbled on top.
"Originality is the Ability to Conceal Your Source" - It is perfectly acceptable to let yourself be inspired by some other artist's work. Say you want to include a dog in your sculpture, but you are having a hard time envisioning exactly what this dog will look like. The internet is a great place to find lots of dog pictures - do an image search on google until you find just the dog in just the position that will work best for your sculpture. Print it and refer to it while you are carving.
It is even easier to carve an object when you have a 3D model in front of you. The toy section in any department store is a virtual treasure trove of inexpensive 3D objects such as cars, boats, animals and dolls that make wonderful models.
Don't discount the model potential of the spectators at the event itself. If a pretty bikini-clad maiden is the one element your sculpture is missing, chances are good that you will be able to talk a likely model into assuming a pose for you - for a few minutes, anyway - if you ask nicely.
Carving or smoothing your sculpture to the ground and cleaning up around the area can make the difference between winning and just finishing. Even a very small sculpture looks better if it is sitting on a pile of nicely-carved rocks. Carved sand looks different from smoothed sand looks different from "finger fluffed" sand. Use alternating textures and there are no rough edges or loose sand laying around at judging time, so be sure to allow enough time to finish all the way to the ground.