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Author   Topic : "ethics of using photos in digi painting"
Naeem
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:13 am     Reply with quote
Hi guys,

I'm writing a paper for class on the ethics of using photos in digital painting in the entertainment design field. I know that it's a hot issue nowadays, and I have a few opinions on it. The way I see it- when n00bs use it like n00bs, then I'm against it because they haven't studied the foundation, etc. When pros use it for work- I'm not against it at all, since they've got tight deadlines and need to get a quick idea down.

The thing is- I do feel that if I paint today, with no regard to a deadline or professionalism and as a student, I shouldn't use a photo in a painting at all- that you're not cheating anyone but yourself. I understand that using photos is a technique as well- but I'm sure that when you have a high understanding of color, value, and form- it won't be hard to master that specific technique. It's best to do it all the real way first- when you're not a pro. This way, you can use the tricks and shortcuts later, knowingly, and the right way.
Do you guys agree? What do you all think?


By the way- I posted on here because I need to have quotes from people about the issue I'm writing about, and also to start the conversation. So, if you say anything- know that I might cite you for the paper to "persuade" the reader that I'm right. I'm not getting you guys to do my paper- It's already done Razz. I just need quotes from 2 designers in the industry, hehe
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mull
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:10 am     Reply with quote
I dont personally find any problem in people using photographs within their artwork, whether its due to deadline, texture or in-experience. What irks a lot of artists is when the photograph is used with no painting whatsoever, full of filters and its trying to be passed off as 'hand painted'.

I think along the same lines as yourself, with a no-deadline, personal piece of work you can invest time in painting everything by hand which not only provides greater satisfaction but increases your skill/technque levels.
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Sampster
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:07 am     Reply with quote
I also agree people who are just learning should stick to foundational painting skills. I feel like it's fine to use photo's to create artwork after that but in the spirit of full honesty I think the artist needs to be very up front about about how the photo's were used.

I don't have a problem with using photo's for texture, especially when work needs to be done quickly—but I don't like it when photos are clearly just spliced into work, not faded out as texture but as an actual part of a "painting;" when amateurs do that I think it's often very obvious and ugly.

I also agree with mull... I've seen so many terrible "paintings" done in Painter X that are obviously just clone brushes used over a photograph, following a few contour lines. Makes me upset but in truth the "artists" who do that instead of learning about color and form are only cheating themselves.

annnd I just read the part about "designers in the industry." There are a few thousand of my shirts in print, but I'm not a professional. You could call me a student artist at most probably, though I didn't write in formal paper quality anyway. Hopefully the thoughts spark some discussion that you can actually use.
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Nag
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 12:30 pm     Reply with quote
"The end justifies the means." Is a nice quote that might help.

And a good question to ask when it doubt is "Would Rembrant have done it if he had the tools?" .... I would say yes.
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Naeem
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:36 pm     Reply with quote
well, my thing isn't whether using it is right or wrong. It is a tool of the digital medium, that if you fail to use- you're depriving yourself. However, my firm belief is that before you can use this tool, or even paint well in the digital medium, you must be somewhat fluid in traditional painting and drawing. Sure, you can spend years digi painting trying to improve- but speaking from personal experience where I started digi painting heavily for 2 years, until I realized I had to draw- I can definitely say that the improvement I had in those 2 years was remote- if any. However, the improvement I've had since trying to draw with on paper and painting with traditional media is noticably higher.

So, my take on this whole thing is aimed towards those quick "quick fix" tutorial websites on photoshop everywhere- showing you how you can "paint cities like a pro" after reading the tutorial. I'm personally offended by things like that- because most of the time, the author of the tutorial barely knows anything himself/herself and it shows alot in their painting. On top of it all- they make it seem like digital painting is a breeze- where you slap on a photo that you steal from the internet and then blend it with the dodge/burn tool and so on, and cal it yours.

As for quotes- hehe, I wasn't asking you guys for quotes. I was just telling you that the discussion we have here- I may take it in context and use something you say for one of my quotes.


Last edited by Naeem on Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jabo
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:37 pm     Reply with quote
If Rembrandt had had photography, he'd be a photographer.
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Nag
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 4:40 pm     Reply with quote
Hehe.. that would have been a shame though Jabo =). That Rembrandt thing came to mind cause my art director once asked me if I thought if Mr R would have used the levels in ps had he had the option for it.

I know what you meant Annis and I did´nt really mean the quote in that way. For me it´s a bit of a philosophy, use the tools that are given to you. I´ve had the same experience as you with the drawing and I completely agree with you that you have to learn the foundation first and you can almost always see it right away if someone does´nt have it. I sometimes use photos but mostly for textures and color picking. It´s also sometimes handy for things like vegetation and lights (the halo), but that kinda is texture aswell. It´s sometimes fun also to have an image you´ve been working on but there´s something missing, and throw a photo in there (a texture or whatnot (or just a small single building in the backround)) and the painting goes "pop" cause suddenly you have something in it that the eye recognizes as a "real" thing. The eye fills in the rest and brings the whole image up to that level.

Anyways.. bla bla
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Affected
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:57 pm     Reply with quote
If it looks good, who cares how you did it? Illustrations are made to visualize ideas. As for developing skills, how you do that is something everyone has to figure out for themselves.

Of course, a lot of the time paintings will look better since finding photos with exactly the right light etc. can be impossible. It's far too often easy to spot a photo that's been contorted too far to "fit" into an image.
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notic
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:07 pm     Reply with quote
to quote craig: "professional is what get's the job done"
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Ben Mauro
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:30 am     Reply with quote
when doing work work.....do whatever it takes to get the job done. I don't think
there should be any guilt in using photos or looking at reference, if you have
never seen a car before how will you be able to draw one accurately?

If you want to grow as a designer and illustrator i would only use it when it is
necessary, if it is helping to illustrate and visualize your idea more quickly then
go for it. As with anything it is all relative. If you want to be a professional
matte painter, thats a large part of your job, coming up with your
shot/background/whatever and collaging photo's together to get a photo real finish.

But in the end, if you don't have any drawing and design foundation, no
amount of photo collaging and filters will get you anywhere.

see you in class dood. Very Happy
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Ranath
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:14 am     Reply with quote
notic wrote:
to quote craig: "professional is what get's the job done"



yeah, that's how it is at work. When learning I don't think you should restrict yourself in any way. Just be smart, if you notice you're always struggling with something and end up going for photos, then you have probably used the shortcut too much in the past.. or avoided the subject matter too much. In which case you should of course know to study it more separately.

But sometimes photos help greatly the learning process. Don't limit yourself.. if you don't have a teacher around, sometimes just studying the photo in every way possible, color picking, manipulating with paint, messing with it helps you a lot in understanding what makes the thing look like what it is. Some people just don't know how to use photos correctly, so they limit themselves by saying something like "one must not use photos", without really realizing how much they could miss. It's just one technique though, and you don't wanna become dependent of one trick..
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notic
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:47 am     Reply with quote
spot on there ranath..

i think the biggest concern is that it's easy to forget/ignore about the actual 3d form that is so crucial, and simply end up copying 2d shapes.
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Ranath
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:18 am     Reply with quote
notic wrote:


i think the biggest concern is that it's easy to forget/ignore about the actual 3d form that is so crucial, and simply end up copying 2d shapes.



which is why sparth/vyle/viag/barontieri/m@ brushes shouldn't be given to people who are just starting out. Fancy looking results initially, until the realization hits that you can't get any further without knowing the basics. Too bad some people never get past the "make a mess with brush and photo mix and hope it's good" stage Confused




I know I haven't Shocked
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Synnical
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:46 am     Reply with quote
Photoshop is a powerful tool, and sorry to quote Spidey's grandma, with great power comes great responsibility, and that responsibility of doing good art has to be learned through studying the fundamentals. If you abuse the tool without knowing the basics, you are ignoring that responsibility and cheating yourself out of actual improvement.

I personally learned how to paint digitally, but I did my fair share of drawings the traditional way. Digital for me is a great tool for understanding how colours work; and I believe if you start out by treating Photoshop strictly as a painting tool (no heavy filters/photos/layers involved), you can actually learn and find your own style faster than you would traditionally. Like Ranath said, you don't want to limit yourself, you just have to be smart and responsible in the ways you learn.
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Mikko K
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:47 am     Reply with quote
Quote:

i think the biggest concern is that it's easy to forget/ignore about the actual 3d form that is so crucial, and simply end up copying 2d shapes.


Quote:
which is why sparth/vyle/viag/barontieri/m@ brushes shouldn't be given to people who are just starting out.


Have you guys ever heard of traditional painters complaining about stupid kids not knowing how to use watercolor?

The truly motivated people will always pick up things and learn on their own. All in all, the quality of digital artwork we see online has really gone up in the past 10 years. So it can't be all bad.
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Ranath
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:52 pm     Reply with quote
Mikko K wrote:
Quote:

i think the biggest concern is that it's easy to forget/ignore about the actual 3d form that is so crucial, and simply end up copying 2d shapes.


Quote:
which is why sparth/vyle/viag/barontieri/m@ brushes shouldn't be given to people who are just starting out.


Have you guys ever heard of traditional painters complaining about stupid kids not knowing how to use watercolor?

The truly motivated people will always pick up things and learn on their own. All in all, the quality of digital artwork we see online has really gone up in the past 10 years. So it can't be all bad.


yes, often shortcuts give nice results that keep you motivated and keep you working, which is of course a good thing. I think the major problem there is that people might not realize how important the basics are because you're getting so nice results with so little work.. and they won't realize how important it is not to trust on a special tool to do the job.

Digital painting has improved much in 10 years because it has become more popular. More people are working on it and figuring things out, tools develop, people from traditional media are joining in and sharing their applied traditional techniques. There's just more knowledge about painting among digital artists now simply because more people are doing it. Now people have more places to look for tutorials, advice, inspiration, works to study..

But I don't think it's just because of some pros sharing their brushes Wink
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Hideyoshi
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:41 pm     Reply with quote
I think everyone knows when he/she is ready to use photos in digital artworks and get away with making it look skillful and not amateurish. It's pretty evident if you lack the basic skills and simply use cheating tactics to get fancy results.
I believe photos should always take on an aiding role in achieving your visions and not be used as something you built your artwork around with filters etc. Because then it becomes manipulating rather than creating.
Personally, I'd always keep the use to a minimum just for the sake of learning...
I have recently played around with paitning over heavily blurred photos just to get your imagination started. I think using photos as a means of inspiration is a great thing and I am pretty sure I read that Mullins used this technique occassionally...
Also, I personally think that custom brushes can be an equal curse if you start to rely too much on them. It's tempting, but not as rewarding as painting your stuff by hand Smile
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notic
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:58 pm     Reply with quote
mikko, it wasn't really a complaint though, more of a concern towards beginning artists who gets easily deceived by "shortcuts" instead of thinking while painting.

i always encourage experimentation in art though, it's fun and much can be learnt from it. but i also think it's important to do longer studies not having to think about which brush get's the coolest effect.

i'm not claiming to be an expert though(just look at my paintings Wink ), everyone can do as they want, and shouldn't feel obliged by following "rules".
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Mikko K
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:37 am     Reply with quote
I totally agree with you guys. I was just trying to point out the somewhat ridiculous concerns everyone (myself included) always seem to have about "kids using shortcuts and learning bad habits".

It's not like anyone has ever gotten *really* good results from just brainless photo/texture/brush play.

I usually go through the speedy thread so quickly these days, and it takes something special to catch my attention. So the gimmicky stuff really isn't doing it for me anymore.
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notic
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:08 am     Reply with quote
hehe yeah.. i suppose we're getting old!

Very Happy
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seth1
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:30 pm     Reply with quote
Synnical, that was his grandpa. Rolling Eyes
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Synnical
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 10:59 am     Reply with quote
o right, my bad Razz
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Duracel
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 2:34 am     Reply with quote
Quote:
I think the major problem there is that people might not realize how important the basics are


Maybe more important than learning the basics is "realizing by yourself" the basics are the most important part.
And do you learn this by learning the basics or by cheating and realizing that this will be not the same?
And maybe learning the techniques of good painting is not a basic too, but cheating on yourself? Do you know?

To quote Craig again
Quote:
I think there is too much emphasis on technique and skill here. I know, you think that's easy for me to say with the fancy pants art edu, and you are right.

Technique is an illusion, and I had to get technique before I realized that.

But remember, I said too much emphasis is bad. A little is good. Gotta have the tools, then forget about them, fast.

How about a rule, you have to break at least one rule a painting. Except the preceeding one.


I'd like to say he pointed it!


To get back to the photo-question:
I'd like to ask what the main aspect of drawing/painting is for you?
Is it to get professional? Then go with the earlier Mullins quote ...
Is it to learn how the world works in a visual way? Then learn the basics as you see them! And as you see most of the pictures in this place.
Is it to feel the pulse of life ... then theres no need to stay with the old traditions. And maybe the speedpaintingthread is an old tradition too ...

The last months i realized one thing for myself. Drawing and Painting as the visual way of showing things is just one Aspect of Life ... and when i only focus on this, my drawings and paintings will be most time just about this one aspect. Pictures about pictures.
This is the real limiting of yourself.

You need limits to concentrate on making the decisions where you need them. You choose the drawing/painting as the way to express yourself. But most people choose the same way to "impress" theirselves.
And wonder why the only fall into manierismen.

Using a photo is just the extended form of limiting yourself on the wrong end ... start with this! And free your mind from this point on.

I worked with photos and filters myself ... till i found this place way back in time, and i realized limiting myself a long time.
The last months i realized how limited places like, sijun, conceptart or the cgsociety are. Mullins is ahead of its time ... in this case too!

Using photographs or not is the wrong question!
What impresses you, and what you like to express? What feels good about drawing/painting for yourself? Why the hell do you do this?

And if you come up with that the only true reason why you do all this is, to get as much compliments by others as possible ... well, then grab a photo, overpaint it and say you have painted it all out of imagination!

Lars
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sweetums
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:52 am     Reply with quote
Duracel wrote:
Quote:
I think the major problem there is that people might not realize how important the basics are


Maybe more important than learning the basics is "realizing by yourself" the basics are the most important part.
And do you learn this by learning the basics or by cheating and realizing that this will be not the same?
And maybe learning the techniques of good painting is not a basic too, but cheating on yourself? Do you know?

To get back to the photo-question:
I'd like to ask what the main aspect of drawing/painting is for you?
Is it to get professional? Then go with the earlier Mullins quote ...
Is it to learn how the world works in a visual way? Then learn the basics as you see them! And as you see most of the pictures in this place.
Is it to feel the pulse of life ... then theres no need to stay with the old traditions. And maybe the speedpaintingthread is an old tradition too ...
I think you're missing far too much with such a limited choice. Why not, "I create for the joy of creating?" I do not need to "learn how the world works in a visual way," in order to paint my vision of it. I have no plans to ever paint as a paid professional, I create simply for my own amusement.

Quote:
The last months i realized one thing for myself. Drawing and Painting as the visual way of showing things is just one Aspect of Life ... and when i only focus on this, my drawings and paintings will be most time just about this one aspect. Pictures about pictures.
This is the real limiting of yourself.
Sorry, no. That is YOUR real limiting of yourself. You cannot speak for anyone else's creativity or motivation to create, only yours. This post clearly demonstrates that you are not experienced enough in the creative process, simply by your attempting to categorize other people's efforts.
Quote:
You need limits to concentrate on making the decisions where you need them. You choose the drawing/painting as the way to express yourself. But most people choose the same way to "impress" theirselves.
And wonder why the only fall into manierismen.
Oh no! Not even close. Again, you are projecting YOUR issues onto the rest of us!

You do not need "limits," so much as you need Goals. Creativity is being CREATIVE, not limited...As has been quite often repeated for this discussion, "whatever gets the job done." THAT is being creative. To impose limitations such as "you can't use photographs until you learn how to draw," is draconian, extremely bossy, and utterly shortsighted and defeating. Creating is free. No limits, no boundaries.

You create with GOALS, which involves choices, but as an artist, you should already have made the major decisions about the work before you even make a single mark. People do not "impress" themselves when they create, they enjoy themselves. Two similar, yet very different concepts. And, what you dismiss as "mannerisms" is called "Individual Style," and is how viewers can tell the difference between the work of Craig Mullins, Djabih Eng, and Andy Warhol.

Quote:
Using a photo is just the extended form of limiting yourself on the wrong end ... start with this! And free your mind from this point on.
You would do better to "Free your mind from this point on," by unshackling it from your out-dated, restrictive, and "limiting" belief/dictate that:
1. Using photography in your art is somehow "bad," and
2. You are helping anyone by telling them not to do something simply based upon your personal beliefs, rather than verifiable facts.
Photographs can be very effectively used to create art. Photographs are as much a tool as a pencil or a tube of paint. And like a pencil or a tube of paint, they are not much in and of themselves. It is how the tools are used that makes the difference between a visually appealing work of art, and a waste of time.
Quote:
I worked with photos and filters myself ... till i found this place way back in time, and i realized limiting myself a long time.
The last months i realized how limited places like, sijun, conceptart or the cgsociety are. Mullins is ahead of its time ... in this case too!
For some purposes, possibly. Not everything, not all situations. You paint your opinions with an extremely wide brush, don't you?

Quote:
Using photographs or not is the wrong question!
No it isn't. YOU did not start this thread, so YOU really can't say that the question is "wrong."
Quote:
What impresses you, and what you like to express? What feels good about drawing/painting for yourself? Why the hell do you do this?
Why do YOU care? If you look at what I create, and enjoy it, why is that not enough? Why do any of you presume to be able to dictate how someone else creates? Do you EVER see the great artists telling others how they should or should not create? NO!. When asked for critique, you will find people commenting on visual dichotomies, such as bad anatomy, or poor visual flow, or bad values, but those are comments relating to SKILLS, not choices...
Quote:
And if you come up with that the only true reason why you do all this is, to get as much compliments by others as possible ... well, then grab a photo, overpaint it and say you have painted it all out of imagination!
PFAH! You are terribly myopic to think that people create only to "get as much compliments by others as possible," or perhaps you are terribly insecure, yourself.

There are people who make a fairly comfortable living doing nothing but "grabbing a photo, and overpainting it." May I suggest you look at this artist, or this artist, orthis artist, or this artist.

Create in the manner which works best for you that you enjoy. Do not create to please others, unless you are getting paid for it. Use any tool that helps you create the image you want. Do not be "limited" by the dictates of others as to what is "appropriate" or not.
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That which does not kill you should make you wiser...
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Duracel
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:36 am     Reply with quote
Quote:
I think you're missing far too much with such a limited choice. Why not, "I create for the joy of creating?"


i would say it goes the same direction like: [Is it to feel the pulse of life ... then theres no need to stay with the old traditions.]
Nontheless, i never say this list is complete.


I said in one part
[...] i realized [...] for myself. [...]when i only focus on this, my drawings [...]
You answered:
Quote:
Sorry, no.[...]You cannot speak for anyone else's creativity or motivation to create, only yours.



On the rest, i have the same feeling you don't really understand what im talking about(hope its not my not that good english) ... you pick out the sentences instead of critisising the whole statement.
I said things later on i don't agree with those in my own posting. Thats what its about!

I say "Using photographs or not is the wrong question!" ... what this means is including this:
Quote:
Photographs can be very effectively used to create art.

Of course they can do, this is, why i say you should ask yourself, if you use a photograph to limit yourself, or to free yourself. Most of the "photocopying" People tend to limit themselves with this habit. Nontheless, using them or not is the wrong question; cause the point is to ask questions you didn't asked before.
Asking just the same questions all over again is limiting yourself.


Quote:
Create in the manner which works best for you that you enjoy. Do not create to please others, unless you are getting paid for it. Use any tool that helps you create the image you want. Do not be "limited" by the dictates of others as to what is "appropriate" or not.


Nothing else do i say.
(well except, that i don't think you shouldn't do things to please others, too ... cause thats one aspect of our nature, of being a social-being)


So please read it again ... i only say, go out and feel free and then, the questions about photocopying will disappear.
You said more or less the same, expect that you are not agree with me; ok, thats fine. Smile
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Detailling a speedpainting is nothing but speedpainting in detail.
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Kamal
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:48 pm     Reply with quote
As long as the artist is the exclusive copyright owner of the photograph it's fine regardless of the circumstance. What really bothers me is when artist pull stuff off the web and think that if they change it enough, it's their own work. Eek!! So sad to see even professionals doing this Sad
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Ranath
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 2:19 am     Reply with quote
roaylty free stock photos, man..

besides, the way good artists use photos is such that you'd never recognize any specific photos there.
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Kamal
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2008 10:40 pm     Reply with quote
I love using royalty free photos in my design work, but you can't paint over royalty free images or make a painting of a royalty free photo and call it your own. That's a derivative copy and therefore you can't sell exclusive rights to it to anyone (which is usually what clients want). That's the down side of using "roaylty-free".
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 12:00 am     Reply with quote
I really have to agree with you Duracel. Wise words. Maybe I understand them different than you mean it. I dunno. Doesn't really matter anyway. It seems you really know what it is about, and in the recent months I expirienced a similar change of things in my art or my approach to art. My motives seem to change,...I questioned myself, why I draw and paint. I am still not really sure. I just know I became stuck at one point.

Using photographs is okay if you are honest and feel good about using them. If there is anything that bothers you, don't use them. If you want to sharpen your skills, try to avoid it. At the moment I have to use photographs a lot in my work at Crytek because we simply don't have enough time and people want to see highly detailed stuff, furthermore we have to deal with very complex structures. Working with photos is very technical, not very artistic (at least the way I feel about it). However it still is very hard to implement them in your work. Most of the time you won't suceed with photos. it will look fake, because of fake lighting, fake values, etc. You have to be very good to use photos the right way. Which brings me back to the point that basics are essential for that kind of work.

Cheers!
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