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On tracing

Hey all. I occasionally read this community, but only recently decided to join. Hopefully I'm doing this correctly.

This particular post is about a specific artist who is very prone to tracing. I actually held off on saying anything about this, so some of the images in question have been taken down from their original hosts, but I did save some screenshots. The reason I bring it up now is that she still traces.



Naryu/Narumi has been known for her vector work lately. However, if you check on her archive, you'll see that her vector characters have much more structure and stability than her other work. The reason for this became readily apparent to me about a year ago.



She posted this image and talked about how proud she was of it, but two people (including me) pointed out that she traced a photo.



She responded by deleting/hiding the post and complaining about "snark" on her journal. However, up until very recently, she was selling this traced artwork on Artspots and DeviantArt. She was told that this was wrong, yet she did it anyway.

Now, by that point she had already been doing this for some time,. However, she is still doing this, as evidenced here. Please note the general shape of the mouth, the placement of the eye, and the contour of the farthest cheek ruff. Yes, the shapes are a tad off, but the reason for this is that this higher-resolution photo was found through searching for "coyote snarl" on Google image search. Searching for "wolf snarl" (as she did) pulls up a blurrier, smaller version of the image that when traced, produces the aforementioned result.

When she does not completely copy a photo, she will mostly trace it and change a few details, but will still try to pass it off as entirely her own work if she can. For example, note the similarities between this image and one of the first images found when you search for "Japanese crane." I see that only now does her DevArt description say "refs used," but this was only after someone called her on it. Had they not done so, she would have once again tried to claim this work as her own.

When she is not tracing, she will very heavily lift from other artists, as seen here. Please note the general shape of the ears and mouth, the cheek ruffs, the eyebrows, and antlers. Also please note the small lines she put onto the orb in an attempt to mimic the smoke inside the original artist's orb. The most telling detail is the arm; in the original artwork, the dragon's body is partially obscured by clouds, and without this information, she seemed uncertain as to where and how the arm of her dragon should attach to the body.

And a relatively minor quibble, but part of the description for her Earth Rat is directly copy-pasted from here. Again, she makes no mention of this, preferring that people assume she wrote it herself.

Various individuals have confronted her about this. However, she always responds with extreme hostility and takes it very personally. She seems to think there is nothing wrong with what she's doing.

In short, I would reccommend not buying from her. She doesn't see a problem with her actions, and as such buying from her could very well get you some traced/lifted work from something she found on Google. I actually feel kind of bad about bringing this up, but I feel that it needs to be said.

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fatkraken
Feb. 1st, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC)
the dragon is a reach. That's what Chinese dragons look like. Same with the coyote.

The lovebirds, it's pretty obvious it's photoreferenced from that particular image. bit cheeky I guess not crediting, but ALL wildlife illustrators use photos, it's how you, well, know what the animal looks like. And it's rare to see a photograph credit with a print or pro piece. I suppose they could have taken the picture themselves or used public domain stuff, but very few people are capable of drawing highly realistic animals entirely from memory.
sono_cat
Feb. 1st, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
Yes but there is a difference between using photo reference, getting a bunch of different pictures of a subject and studying them to figure out how the animal's anatomy works, and tracing a photo such as in the lovebirds photo.

I'm not taking sides here, but they are two very different things.
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thaily
Feb. 1st, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
The lovebirds and coyote are pretty damning, not sure what you mean with the rat though. But yeah, if you reference from a photo to that extent it's basically a derivative product and she owes the original copyright holder some compensation for using his/her work.
solid_squid
Feb. 2nd, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)
With the rat it was the text that was copied rather than the image. The text description of the rat painting was referenced/copied from the zodiac page.
wolf_goat
Feb. 2nd, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
You went for a popular one, hope you don't get flamed for it. :/

But yes, completely agree with you. This kind of thing is wholly unacceptable when the artist claims full credit for the image. People would still like it visually if they said they were painting over photos, but then that wouldn't get the same fanboy/girling reaction I suppose.
westly_roanoke
Feb. 2nd, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
She's always taken pictures of Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion and traced them. As far back as I can remember.

I thought it was common knowledge that she did that. She's always been one to take the shortest possible route from point A to point B.

Her skills lie only in photomanips and vector traces. We were discussing why her vector work is passable, and her traditional art is pretty much the same stuff she's been drawing since...well...it's the same stuff.

Along with what a delightful person she is RL... and how ready and willing she is to take advantage of people...I can't say I'm surprised.

(Her fox avatar is also ripped from a video game. The little inari miko from Bloody Roar 3(?) 4(?) with the magatama? Same character.)

I'll agree with the lovebirds, the asuka traces (Check her LJ icons for more if you wanna see...) but the dragon and the coyote not so much...
wolf_goat
Feb. 2nd, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
I looked at her icons before you said that and I O_o'd at the Asuka traces. As a fan of the anime, it's more than obvious to me that most of them are direct traces/manips.

Guess it's no surprise that she does it with anything if she does it with something that obvious.
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winail
Feb. 2nd, 2009 12:43 am (UTC)
What's with all of this copying bull shit lately? Tracing IS NOT FUCKING ART. Not in the slightest. If you copy, you're a theft (if you don't give copyright credit).


For fucksake. DRAW YOUR OWN GODDAMN SHIT ARTISTS.
fiercereaper
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
Tracing is a legitimate tool used by artists and one shitton of illustrators. Ideally, all of these people know how to draw without it, but using tracings in artwork does not automatically make something not art or total suck.
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stormslegacy
Feb. 2nd, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)
I disagree with the coyote and the dragon. A snarling coyote is not copyrighted, the pose is different, and more than just what results from eyeballing. It's actually very well done.. The dragon also has a completely different composition and the orb is not unique to that artist, that's a common theme...
tyreenya
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)
I disagree. These are really generic, general poses. Most of these are taken from things that the animals *gasp* actually DO. Imagine that. Lovebirds cuddling. Cranes Dancing. How DARE she make animals in generic poses of what they do in real life anyway! *Le-gasp!*

Canines Snarl, Cranes dance. You don't need to cite refs for EVERY SINGLE thing that you draw.

Lovebirds- heavily referenced maybe. Cranes- If you notice that the other crane pose differs from its partner, and the folded wing one is a generic pose that is common for cranes. Coyote/Wolf, dragon, and anything else- generic poses.

And SO WHAT if she uses traced pictures for her Avatar/LJ pics? She never claimed that she drew them, and isn't selling prints of them.

jesusfuckingchrist, Guys. IIRC, Jazaaboo, you have a running history of causing unnecessary drama. Leave the poor girl alone and stop attacking her on Generic poses. Get a life, or look for serious offenders.



swandog
Feb. 2nd, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
I totally agree with you, Tyr...
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warsawkook
Feb. 2nd, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)
TL;DR

-If this chick IS tracing/eyeballing directly from ONE photo, using species poses and coloring from ONE photo, and then selling prints:
A) she is MORALLY in the wrong for not posting OBVIOUSLY that these pieces are ref'd/traced directly from ONE image and giving credit/link to said artist/photographer/image
B) she is LEGALLY in the wrong if she has not PURCHASED rights to said photo/drawing, or come to a LEGALLY BINDING AGREEMENT with the original artist

If she is NOT selling prints or "originals" that are actually traces
then this doesn't even f--king belong here, IMO.

Damn near EVERY ARTIST learns from tracing at one point or another. It's a fact of life. I'm not ashamed to admit that it's how I learned to draw dinosaurs when I was 13. My art teachers encouraged it to the point of "use this to develop your skills - BUT once you've gotten the hang of it, you NEED to learn to do this on your own."

If she's a youngster learning to draw, then fine. Whatever. Live and let live.

If she's someone who's making MONEY with this shit and doesn't have rights to what she's tracing - then set her on fire and burn the barn she lives in. (FIGURATIVELY OBVIOUSLY.)
lo8a
Feb. 2nd, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
I don't have any patience for this shit.
thornwolf
Feb. 2nd, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
Most artists artfully "Frankenstein" (for lack of a better term) poses/aspects/colors/figures from various photos to create a different composition, as well as combining it with their own style. There's nothing wrong with it as long as you use it for reference and don't copy it directly (also..don't trace, that's, kinda lame unless it's your own photo).

Granted, in some of these, I don't feel she differed /enough/ from the original ref photos, but some of these are really reaching.
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thornwolf
Feb. 2nd, 2009 05:22 am (UTC)
I disagree. I've seen some pretty shitty vector work. Hell, a month ago I put out an ad to hire a vector illustrator for a catalog I'm designing and I had to wade through a pile of very very bad vector work to find the few good ones.

So, yes, it takes talent.
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airukitsu
Feb. 2nd, 2009 05:51 am (UTC)
I think what the real poo poo is is her attitude more than anything
tsunami_ryuu
Feb. 3rd, 2009 01:10 am (UTC)
This. Her vector work is pretty impressive. She just needs to give credit where credit's due and stop being a douche about it.

Honestly, I don't think any less of artists who credit their sources. Quite the contrary, I respect when artists are humble enough to note when they had help.
saeto15
Feb. 2nd, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
Tracing's bad, mmmkay.
aaaamory
Feb. 2nd, 2009 08:42 am (UTC)
OH MY GOD THIS GUY TRACED A PHOTO HE IS NOT AN ARTIST!!!!11!1!1!one11

westly_roanoke
Feb. 2nd, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
Which is why this man is in some legal trouble at the moment...

http://www.myartspace.com/blog/2009/01/lawyers-and-law-professionals-weigh-in.html

Original artist thinking of pressing charges...people are arguing that a vector trace is 'transformitive' enough to be protected under fair use. And others are arguing that the photographer should have been paid for his work.

As a photographer, I agree that the original photographer should have been paid. It's not easy to get shots so perfect that the campaign's artist would want to trace it! And, photographic art is what this person does for a living.

However, to go so far as to say the man is not an artist, I dunno that's a stretch. A lazy artist would perhaps be the better use of the word.
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armaina
Feb. 2nd, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
I would like to comment that while you may have found a few generic art pieces of animals that were heavily referenced, really the only problem I see here is that she didn't as readily state the source. Yes she should state her sources in the case of heavily referenced material. Though I don't see why it's a problem for her to feel proud of learning to use illustrator and start to use the gradient mesh.

However

http://naryu.artspots.com/prints
It's not like she's selling those images as prints. And before you say anything about the Chinese dragon, if you look at so many different classical chinese dragon pieces of art, the shapes are very much the same. (PS there's a reason why Chinese dragons carry an orb or golden pearl) Also the Crane piece is fine, it's a proper reference rather than a copy.

Also I've commissioned her, and she didn't copy something else for my commissions. So there is nothing to 'beware' about commissioning her.

Edited at 2009-02-02 09:50 pm (UTC)
bloofoxtales
Feb. 2nd, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC)
I commissioned her, and never got what I paid for. :( I've since given it up as a lost cause. Glad you got your stuff though!
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