May 23rd, 2015


Fair Use

The headers I've been putting on A Rational Arrangement posts are all created by me. I am not, in my opinion, a particularly good visual artist. I am trying to make the headers look as professional as I can, which means a lot of accommodations for my various weaknesses as an artist. And, in many cases, shortcuts. For example, for this image:

Header 3

I dug up a 19th century picture of a carriage from a website of public domain images, and traced over it to make the carriage. And then re-did some things, like taking off the coach driver's seat and re-doing the carriage wheels, to make it fit with my image. The teeny fancy scrollwork on the windows was done with a french curve stencil from ArtRage*. I looked up a bunch of pictures of big cats and drew the greatcats freehand based on those. The little human figures I just drew freehand without a reference.

For the next header, of Wisteria's eyes: I photographed my face and traced over the eyes, then modified them some to look more like my concept of her.

This one:

Header 3

was traced over photographs of my own hands (wearing a glove for Nik's gloved hand).

With the broken cup:

Broken teacup

I looked up a bunch of broken-cup images, couldn't find a public domain one I liked, and so drew this freehand. The fringe on the rug is from an ArtRage stencil; so is the rug's border pattern.

For the plates:


I drew the simple one (the second plate from the left, with the gold rims). The other three are from public-domain images of plates that I reprocessed to use my palette.

My process can be summed up as: I use my own photographs (or ones taken for me by Lut) and public domain images any way I feel like, including copying, tracing, transforming, etc. I will use images copyrighted by others as inspiration, but I won't trace them or copy them exactly. I might get the idea for how a pose should look from one, or see the places where a cup breaks from another, but I am not going to use the same broken cup or an identical pose.** That's where I draw the line. It's fair use to look at other people's copyrighted*** images for ideas and inspiration, but not to copy, trace, or use photoshopping techniques on them.

So the story of this lousy "artist" who steals people's photos and then sells them for lots of money is deeply aggravating to me. The instagram business is pretty horrible, but I think what really makes me go "SERIOUSLY?" is the example at the bottom. This jerk took somebody else's photo, spent three minutes defacing it and cut-n-pasting a guitar that he probably stole from another party's site. And some judge -- an actual live supposedly-law-enforcing JUDGE -- calls that "fair use"? Are you kidding me? THAT is "fair use"? That is garbage.

What gets me even more is that people with lots of money are actually enabling him. That gallery owner who put his stolen instagram work on display, and that fool who paid $90,000 for one of his stolen photographs? I bet they know what he's done. And they still think he deserves their time and money. GAH. >.<

Anyway. There've been a few points where I was looking at some photo and wondering if my drawing was too similar to the original pose (even though gender/dress/features/build/etc. are different and the pose isn't identical). But after seeing what that jerk gets away with, I'm feeling pretty good about myself. -_-

* ArtRage is a lovely drawing program that octantis recommended to me years ago. It's an inexpensive drawing program designed to mimic the use of real media. I am using it in this project to do an assortment of standard digital tricks. Go figure.

** I do make an exception with pose-reference books. I figure it you are putting out a pose reference book, that indicates permission for artists to imitate the poses in their own work. Same for "How to Draw" books.

*** And "copyrighted" would be "everything that has not explicitly been placed into the public domain or aged into it". You do not have to register to get a copyright. Everything I turn up via Google image search, I assume is still under copyright unless it is explicitly labeled otherwise.