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Reference Blanks Compilation?

I'm looking for advice and opinions on a project I'm doing for fun in my own time, an online download of free to use character reference blanks. I'm currently compiling a large organized folder with every free to use reference sheet blank I can find on the internet for anthros, humans, and ferals of all species and variety. I am dividing the files in easy to navigate folders, sorted by species, then by either anthro, feral, NSFW, or any other relevant subcategory. I would be uploading different versions of the compressed folders as well for those who are only interested in a certain species. Examples: A compressed folder with everything, a compressed folder just for wolves, a folder just for cats, a folder just for mythical species, etc. I thought this might be a great use for artists and commissioners alike. While there are large lists on the net with links to various free to use lineart reference sheet blanks (http://furnation.com/forums/topic/14...e-lineart-list), they are not actively updated it seems, and many of the links become broken and unusable.

I want it to be heavily emphasized that I am only downloading and storing files for reference blanks from submissions where the artist has specifically stated in the description of the line art that the art is free to use, as long as the watermark is not removed, no profit is made from the art, and proper credit is given to the artist. To ensure that the original artist of each file is easily identifiable to users, I've named each reference sheet file in a easy to understand way to find the artist, examples are as follows:

All files names will first start with the art site where the piece originated from:
Furaffinity = FA
Deviantart = DA
Weasyl = WSL
And so on

A "_" (underscore mark) will separate the art site indicated from the next part of the file name, the artists username on aforementioned art website, then another "_" (underscore mark) will be put inbetween the artists name, leading into the generic description of the art itself. Note that sometimes the artist name will include a "_" (underscore mark) in their actual username.

The last part of the file name would be the file extension, such as .jpg, .png, .psd, etc. I will always get the highest quality file available, such as .psd's over .png's, and .png's over .jpg's, etc.


I'm thinking about changing the way I label my files, and doing it opposite of how I'm doing now, and have the description of the file first (specific breed, male or female, etc), THEN the art site and then artist name, I think that would make searching for a certain breed easier considering how large just the 'canines' folder is becoming already. What do you think?

I will include a .txt file in all the database folders that will also explain how to decipher/determine artists and art sites, as well as explicit instructions to include artist credit when used, not remove credit to the artist, not use the art for profit, etc.

My main concern for this project is if it would be considered unethical to include artists free to use art in this free collection without their consent beforehand, despite them stating that the art is free to use for anyone already. I have absolutely no problem with an 'opt out' option in place for the artists who do not wish to have their art included in the database for any reason, as I feel that asking each artist individually and awaiting their permission to add their artwork to the files would slow down the process immensely, and I would loose interest for how slow progress would be.

I hope all of this made sense. Please let me know what you think of this, or if there is already a better version of this in place. Constructive feedback, suggestions, and concerns are greatly appreciated! This is something I'm just doing in my spare time for fun, and I think it could be of significant use to the community if spread around. But if it's a terrible idea I want to know, it just seemed like a good idea at the time.


Edited: Thanks for all your responses, they mean a lot to me. Although I am sad to put this project behind me, your input was greatly appreciated!

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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 9th, 2014 12:34 am (UTC)
Yes, please put the site and artist later.

My optimal filename format would be:
breed_descriptor(if needed)_artist_site

Yes on the text file. That would be great. Use tabs between the fields and it'll be easy to upload into any spreadsheet or database system the user likes.

If you haven't found them already:
http://www.furaffinity.net/user/free2use/ (don't forget their favs)
Aug. 9th, 2014 02:04 am (UTC)
this seems a little tricky to me. by doing this as a distributor, you're removing the direct contact point with the artist that someone would need to go through in order to use their lineart/template/etc. file names sort of work for sourcing, but how many people would just rename the file and forget about it?

you'd also be taking away the artist's control over the source material. what would happen if an artist decides they no longer want their work out there as a free to use item? what if an artist has particular terms and conditions for use? for example they want to see finished products, they only want the work to be available to their followers/fans, etc

I think a compilation of links to the original sources would be better
Aug. 9th, 2014 02:34 am (UTC)
This is exactly the sort of thing I was worried about most. While I'm being careful to make sure that I'm following a strict set of rules as set by the artists, there's still that grey area of them simply not wanting it distributed by a third party. (I've made sure to stay away from pieces, where in the art description, the artists rules weren't %100 clear or left a bit of a grey area.)

I wanted to go about creating a download for all the files because it would be easier to manage on my end I think, but it could upset artists as you mentioned. If I created a spreadsheet with links as you mention at the end of your comment, the submission could be deleted or moved which would then create a invalid link in the spreadsheet, and the only way I'd know about it is if someone told me because there's no way I want to have to do regular spot checking.

It's really the biggest difference I think from what I'm trying to do from what already exists, creating a database of files rather than just offering links to the files which can become broken. Of course I'd happily oblige artists who which to have their art removed, do you still think I run the risk of upsetting artists? D: I DO NOT want to do that, but I'd be bummed out by not being able to do this project, because the alternative already exists.

Also, in response to the thing you said about a filename being renamed. Anyone can already do that to a file downloaded directly from the artist, so I don't really see that as an issue related to this topic. Perhaps I'm just not seeing it in the right light.

By removing each individual direct contact with the artist in creating this database I'm aiming to create a much easier connection with someone who wants a reference sheet. Obviously anyone who wants to use this resource irresponsibly would be able to do so, but the same thing goes with each individually uploaded piece of free to use art.

I'm just not sure if I should continue or not, I'm trying my best to be as fair and considerate to each artist as possible, but I wouldn't want to step on any toes.

Edited at 2014-08-09 02:50 am (UTC)
Aug. 9th, 2014 02:48 pm (UTC)
the bit about the file names was because that's the ONLY sourcing you'd be doing. at least if someone went to the artist's page and downloaded a file then changed the name, they'd know where it came from because they got it direct from the artist
Aug. 9th, 2014 04:50 am (UTC)
My main concern for this project is if it would be considered unethical to include artists free to use art in this free collection without their consent beforehand, despite them stating that the art is free to use for anyone already.
I'd think so. "You may colour/modify this" is different from "you may redistribute this as-is", and it's a distinction I've seen artists or stock providers write explicitly into their rules before. Those that haven't might just not have thought of it.

...> I feel that asking each artist individually and awaiting their permission to add their artwork to the files would slow down the process immensely, and I would loose interest for how slow progress would be.
In that case I think the ethicall options would be to not start, or to look only for things that explicitly say they may be redistributed as-is. Getting the word around and inviting artists to submit material might also be a possibility
Aug. 9th, 2014 05:13 am (UTC)
Ask the artists first or don't do it.

I was thinking of putting out free-to-color lineart in the future and I would NOT want an unknown third party distributing it.
Aug. 9th, 2014 07:03 am (UTC)
I say this project is a don't. Unless the artist has already put it out there in their commentary that this is okay? Its a no.

I see free-to-use lineart like stock art; most stock artists, especially on DA are.very protective of their stock and do not want it to be compiled into other zip files to be distributed elsewhere. And I know for a fact such a subject is pretty much frowned upon in digital custom brushes for programs like PS.

I know your heart is in the right place with such a project, but its really not a good idea; too much can go wrong.

You're again; better off just making a database of links, that never steps on toes since it could A) help those who want linework and B) drive traffic to artists pages.
Aug. 9th, 2014 12:22 pm (UTC)
It sounds good, but you really really need to ask them first.
I'm currently trying to make a multispecies lineart for ref sheets and similar / want to add some expression poses too. And while I would not mind it being redistrbuted per se (with the proper link back and all that ofc), I would be annoyed if someone didn't ask first to add it to such a huge compilation or add it to a "free to use" profile. I'd probably ask you to remove it just because you didn't ask, but I might be a bit more confontional than other artists. I would say ask first, or you can leave a really bad taste with the artists and some of the community
Aug. 9th, 2014 04:20 pm (UTC)
I recall you made a post on this on the artist discussion on this project. https://forums.furaffinity.net/threads/1258020-Character-Sheet-Blank-Database

A database with links is a good idea though i would really ask first. Though i would really be prepared for the consequences of doing something like this.
Aug. 9th, 2014 04:44 pm (UTC)
I agree with above people, if you are going to be distributing it as a pack, you need to get permission from the artists first. And don't be surprised if many artists don't agree. Here are the reasons why this may not be an ideal way (especially from artists' POV) to do this kind of project:

  • You are going to be re-directing traffic that would have otherwise gone to the artist's page. Yes, more people overall will probably see that piece, but probably fewer will be viewing it on the artist's FA or dA, as opposed to their own computer. Yes, people will have the ability to search the artist using the info in the filename, but not all will go through the effort to do that.
  • Eventually, some of these files will no longer be properly attributed. Artists sometimes close down or move accounts. Presumably you will update the filenames in the currently available download - however, people who have downloaded the pack previously will now have improperly attributed files and will be unable to properly credit when they use these resources.
  • The artist loses control over that piece. Yes, it is free to use now, but in the future they may want to rescind that, or delete the piece from the internet altogether. If it is part of the pack, many people will have it on their computers, and may go on to use it without realizing that they have an older pack and this piece is no longer free to use.

Edited at 2014-08-09 04:45 pm (UTC)
Aug. 9th, 2014 04:51 pm (UTC)
Here are two alternative ways to go about this project that I would propose:

  1. Groups. Both dA and FA have the ability to create club/group pages. On dA these are referred to as 'groups', I am less familiar with FA but I do know that they exist. You could run one on each site - find submissions that qualify, and ask the artist if they will submit/allow you to feature the piece. On dA (again, the one I'm more familiar with) you can organize the pieces in the group into 'folders' for easy browsing. This will also make it easier for users to scan and find a template that fits their needs since things will be displayed in thumbnail format.
  2. A volunteer project. Get artists on board who desire to contribute to a resource pack like this, and have them create pieces specifically for this pack. You will have less variety, yes, but the artists will have full knowledge when they create the piece what it will be used for, and will be working with you every step of the way to be sure they are comfortable with how the art is used. An easily-searchable project name that will take people to a homepage dedicated to it will make it easy for people to find and download the most up-to-date version of the pack, and to find the proper attribution if they find the artist they are searching for no longer goes by the username attributed in the files.

P.S. You could even make it a non-volunteer project if you want by finding out what each artist would be willing to do for how much money, and putting together a Kickstarter for it. You could get a lot more/potentially higher quality artists on board for something like that. I would approach something like that with caution though, of course.

Edited at 2014-08-09 05:25 pm (UTC)
Aug. 9th, 2014 05:14 pm (UTC)
Personally, I'd be very upset if someone did this with a template I made.

It's one of the reasons I finally decided to not do a template. As people have approached me with a topic like this before.
Aug. 9th, 2014 05:18 pm (UTC)
Understood, I've already deleted what I had collected so far. Thank you for telling me your thoughts!
Aug. 9th, 2014 07:02 pm (UTC)
I think a lot of people offer these as an incentive for people to come to their page, increasing their visibility and hopefully their customer base.

Maybe if you ever decided to make a big ol' master post somewhere? Like maybe with thumbnails that lead directly to where people can find the template?

You'll also have to keep in mind, some people trace to create their "free bases" and whatnot, you'd have to be wary of that.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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