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Giving out Source Files

Last day I saw someone posting how they were really happy about an artist giving out source files, like PSD or SAI files and saying they highly prefer artists like that. The author said every customer should have the right to edit.

This got me quite interested but I'm not sure if I should do the same. Since AB has a lot of people who've been in the commission market for a much longer time than me, I want to ask:
Does anyone else give out source files? What are the pros and cons for both, artist and customer?

If this question doesn't belong here, then I apologize!
Thank you for reading~

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( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 22nd, 2018 10:29 am (UTC)
"The author said every customer should have the right to edit."

That in itself is incorrect. The client doesn't have those rights by default.

But I personally do not give out source files unless the client buys me out completely, or they can receive a flattened PSD if they intend to print. My source files are a complete wreck of folders and about 100 layers.

Now I do know that there are folks who don't mind what their clients do with their PSD. So long as they aren't claiming the work is theirs there isn't particularly any harm in letting someone root around in your source files.
Oct. 22nd, 2018 10:59 am (UTC)
I've rarely seen an artist give out source files (it's happened once out of the 20 people I've commissioned) and it's even rarer to see them allow clients to edit, unless it's a sketch commission. Artists have the right to not even provide the full resolution of the flat jpg/png, unless otherwise stated. This is usually done as a courtesy to the client.

Every artist is different here, but the whole edit issue is usually due to the artist's name being linked to the piece and a poorly done edit would inherently reflect on the artist. Not only that, but it's also seen as rude.

Up to the artist really what they want to give in the end, and its up to the client to choose who to commission. But I would imagine that the client would be limiting their pool of potential artists if they -only- commissioned artists who give the source file and allowed the client to edit.

(Apologies for any mispelling here, stuck with lame mobile)
Oct. 22nd, 2018 11:12 am (UTC)
I've commissioned... probably a hundred or more artists over the last decade. I've had maybe a handful who give out source files.

One of these was maybe two weeks ago, actually, and artist who always gives her sketch customers the PSDs so they can line/color them themselves. I think it's neat that she does that, and I will color the sketch myself eventually. But I didn't commission her because of that.
Oct. 22nd, 2018 12:21 pm (UTC)
It looks like nobody has given the perspective of someone who provides the source file yet, so I will.

I don't do fandom/furry/etc commissions, so my situation is a little different. I provide graphic design services to self-publishing authors, and I also sell SVG assets on Etsy. In both cases, I am always providing a (cleaned up) version of the editable source file. Here are the cons for me:
1. Clients who just do not understand that they won't be able to open a .psd (or .svg) with any old graphics program. This is always a struggle, especially if there is a language barrier. They assume I have sent them a corrupt file.
2. I do have to be on the lookout for clients editing my files and re-selling them. Since they have the source file, it's easier to do that. The SVG assets are a bigger problem for this because they're generic use. This has not happened to me yet, but I know others to whom it has happened.
3. A client might choose to make edits after-the-fact that look terrible, and will make me look bad to people who see the end result. I just kind of have to hope they look into my gallery of work and see that I provide a higher quality than what they're looking at. This is mostly an issue with the ebook services, and these days I only take on clients who I have worked with before or who are recommended by clients that I trust, so it's less of a concern for me now.

The pros:
For ebook services, it provides a higher level of service that distinguishes me from other ebook and indie publishing focused designers. My clients also feel like they are being treated as professionals, which is important in this industry because a lot of people trying to sell them things for their books treat them like idiots. It also gives my clients peace of mind - if they need to make a last-minute change (like, a book with the exact same title is released the day before their planned release date and is getting a lot of attention - good or bad! - the title needs to be changed, on the cover and any promotional materials) they know they can pay someone else to make it if I am not available.

The SVG assets wouldn't reach the same market if I wasn't offering the source files. The customers I sell to are using the files with programs that require a fully editable SVG (cutting machines, embroidery machines, laser cutters, etc.) I used to sell my SVG designs as end products through POD services like RedBubble, but the demand for my style is lower in that market. I've only been selling on Etsy for about a year and only have 30 listings up, but my monthly earnings are already surpassing my RedBubble earnings, which I've had since high school.

Like I said - my situation is not exactly the same as someone offering, say, character commissions - but there's my two cents.
Oct. 22nd, 2018 12:33 pm (UTC)
I rarely give out full, un-flattened PSDs, I'll give the client a full rez flattened PSDs, but not one with the layers intact. The only time I give out the full PSD is if I know the person I'm giving it to well enough or if it was negotiated during the payment process. I for one would like to know what the motivation is behind having the files and what they intend to use it for, just in case someone is trying to use my images for commercial purposes without paying a licensing fee.

Pros for the client: They can look at how the art is made, get tips on their own work if they also do that. Maybe appreciate the complexity in the piece and the work the artist put into it. They can use pieces of the work more easily in something else such as making banners, icons or profile pics for themselves, or make minor changes without pestering the artist and paying for additional changes, such as markings changed over the years.

Pros for the artist: At most all I can think of is that the client can make minor edits without pestering the artist, but you have to have an artist that's even okay with that in the first place.

Cons for the client: Not understanding what the file and it's process means and giving them more than they actually need, sometimes frustrating them if they don't know what they're getting.

Cons for the artist: The client can use pieces of the work more easily in something else or edit easily. It would mean the client could more easily use the work in derivative pieces without permission or in the REALLY off chance, edit it and pass it off as their own. They can remove the watermarks and re-post wherever and while the artist has the right to get those taken down, it doesn't make it easier. HOWEVER the same can be said of people that re-post their un-watermarked, flattened, high rez images to their gallery.

You don't have to give out the PSD if you don't want to, you don't even have to allow editing, it's entirely up to what the artist in particular is comfortable with.
Oct. 22nd, 2018 01:10 pm (UTC)
Only on a requested basis, due to the time outlay. When I finish a commission I want to just give it to the customer and be done, and not have to worry about delivering extra files in a requested format.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 22nd, 2018 03:32 pm (UTC)
I dont give them out. Everything I post is full size and I generally have 1 or 2 layers in my SAI files, so it doesnt even make a difference.

Customers arent entitled to making edits or having the PSD/SAI files, and it's very rare I've been given any. Even if I ask to color stuff it's usually just a PNG I'm given.
Oct. 22nd, 2018 03:58 pm (UTC)
ive commissioned hundreds of people over the past 10 or so years and ive never been given the source file.

that being said i personally wouldn't give one unless we made a prior agreement or perhaps for a character reference.

I don't like the idea of letting customers edit my art. It's just really a personal preference because depending on the edit it might clash with my art and just be too obvious that it was an edit.
Oct. 22nd, 2018 05:35 pm (UTC)
I've never given out source files outside of selling usable bases. I always send a full size PNG for personal use and a smaller one for gallery upload. If a client needs it for printing, I'd be willing to send them a flattened PSD, but I do not want my work edited without my input in most situations.
Oct. 22nd, 2018 05:36 pm (UTC)

I often give a psd as a courtesy to my clients who order reference sheets so they can update the design as needed, but I still prefer people just ask me to make edits for the sake of consistency. I would say most people prefer to keep those files to themselves though, especially because the artistic methods of two different people are likely to clash, and that is their right as the artist. That isn't something I generally do either unless requested though, or if I know I'm working with someone who has trouble settling on a design, and thus far I've never had a psd requested for anything other than refs or design commissions (that I can remember). It doesn't hurt to ask for a source file, just bear in mind that the artist can and may say no.

Oct. 22nd, 2018 08:55 pm (UTC)
I would not recommend giving out the unflattened source file at all. There are no benefits and and a lot of risks to you as an artist.

For me (as an artist), I wouldn't entertain the idea of giving a source file and I don't even give full res / un-watermarked WIPS (I also don't know any other artists who would do this but I guess to each their own).

Luckily I have only had one person be difficult about getting watermarked WIPS but they still only get smaller watermarked WIPS like everyone else.

Personally I think asking for source files is a huge red flag and I would be pretty likely to turn down a commission from someone who does that, and would definitely turn them away if they think they have the right to edit the art in any way that wasn't discussed.
Oct. 22nd, 2018 11:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you to everyone who commented and shared their thoughts. I understand the matter more clearly now and have decided against giving unflattened source files.
However, I'll most likely be handing out flattened PSD files for printing as many of you mentioned.

Thank you again~!
Oct. 23rd, 2018 08:59 pm (UTC)
I will give whatever high res files I have (though I don't usually work any bigger than 1500x1500 at 300dpi) if a customer asks... I won't give out my working (SAI/PSD) files. Those are only for me, customers are not allowed to edit my work.

Now, if they wanted to buy out my copyright on a piece, they could have the file.
Oct. 23rd, 2018 11:13 pm (UTC)

I will hand out a flattened PSD to a customer I know and trust. I prefer that my work not be edited , I'd rather handle that myself.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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