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September 8, 2010
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Concerns and Discussion; &a bit of news at the

Journal Entry: Wed Sep 8, 2010, 11:41 AM



Okay so I realize that my last journal was written way back in May and it's probably time for me to spark a bit more discussion (since that's why most of you watch this profile).

Today's discussion isn't about policy, at least not directly, but it is about something which I feel strongly about and that I know many others feel strongly about and I started thinking about the issue based on a few things which crossed my desk earlier today.

The topic I want to discuss today concerns the realm of traditional art - sketching mainly - and how access to digital tools and the mathematical algorithms and procedures known as "filters" have had an impact on honesty among some traditional artists.

If you aren't certain what I'm talking about then you probably haven't gotten around the site very much over the years or maybe you just have a deep seated faith in the honesty of your fellow artists.

What I'm talking about is when an artist uses digital tools to manipulate a photograph into something which approximates a pencil sketch and then claims to have actually sketched the resulting manipulation.

There's a bunch of reasons why an artist would stoop to this level; feelings of insecurity and the all consuming Quest for Attention tend to be at the top though.

It is actually so easy to forge a pencil sketch out of a manipulated photograph I think it would be fair for me to say that I'll probably never :+fav: one regardless of how legitimate it looks just because I've seen to many cheaters.

Even if no direct manipulation has been done the art of "painting over" a photograph in a digital art program is such a popular "technique" that I just have quite a sour taste in my mouth over the whole subject matter- and that's not even approaching the whole issue involving copyrights and reproductions.

Now granted, way back when I used to redraw photographs from the 1800s and early 1900s so I did very similar work to what I'm complaining about right now but at the very least I relied upon public domain photographs for my references and when you actually compare my early pencil work with the photographs you can actually tell them apart because I actually drew freehand.

What I'm talking about is how some artists want to be known for producing astounding work so badly that it prompts a lot of cheating; directly drawing over the photo reference, "tracing" it in a vector program, "smudging" the photo directly, manipulating the photo (or pieces of the photo) into something which looks like a sketch or painting which barely looks different from the original.

A lot of you guys out there report this sort of stuff to CEA, but unfortunately there can be problems writing policy for this sort of cheating behavior.

I mean, how exactly do you prove that someone simply digitally painted on a layer above the actual photograph? Yes, you can prove the two are nearly identical but that fact alone says nothing about the method of creation.

The same can be said for various manipulations - we can't really prove anything because we weren't there during the creation process so all we have are suspicions, and regardless of how much you dislike the cheating behaviors you can't justify deleting something based on a suspicion alone because honestly there are actually artists out there who really are just that good.

So as much as some of you would like, we simply cannot moderate works which you think involved shortcuts or cheating in their creation based on that reason alone.

Copying a copyrighted work is another matter entirely and as I have stated elsewhere quite often if the owner of the copied work files a claim of infringement we'll be more than happy to review the claim; we'd rather than random people don't try to file any complaints because only the actual owner has the right to decide that they don't want their works copied so stop complaining to me and get them involved.

As far as "catching" people taking digital shortcuts and cheating your way to the "perfect sketch" or "perfect painting" we are pretty happy allowing you, the community, to call it like you see it.

I've seen plenty of cheaters abandon their profile when enough people question the authenticity of their work. Hell, many try to file "slander" complaints with our staff but as long as you are not violating our Terms of Service with outlandish abuse or similar tactics we are more than happy to let you guys announce that you believe something isn't quite right with that all-too-perfect celebrity sketch.

Just check your facts and be civil about the whole thing.


In other news we know that for awhile there customer support tickets to CEA were suffering an unacceptable backlog and we've worked hard for almost the last month to reduce the backlog to something a bit more reasonable.

The whole team deserves quite a bit of thanks for slogging through hundreds of drama tickets and other issues been which should never brought into the support center to clear out a huge chunk from the backlog and speed up the response time.

It's still a work in progress but once we've got that firmly under control (keep your dArama in your Block lists plz) we'll be taking a look at doing something similar with Moderation reports.

We'll also be doing our yearly review of various policies and fine tuning them a bit to make certain that we're still pointed in the direction which we want to be heading so more on that in the future.


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:iconeldris:
eldris Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Sorry for replying on an older journal, just saw it.

One thing that really bugs me as both a photographer and photo manipulator is people who make photo manips then pass them off as photos. Granted, they have to be good to make them look realistic enough to get away with it, but they're not photos and shouldn't get credited as such.

I've seen one fairly popular "photographer" who I've reported many times, had many of his/her items removed, but he/she keeps getting away with it and tricking people into believing they are seeing photos.

Could dA perhaps do some statistical trackig of reports and sort of follow up if people are consistently getting reported for the same thing? I know the staff are busy, but I hate to see people getting tricked by mis-representation of art.
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:iconpluto-from-below:
Pluto-from-Below Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
The only thing you could do about this, is make a ban on lying... which is quite frankly impossible to enforce. I don't really care that people make a paint/draw over, but lying about it is just sad. Hopefully the general public can make the decision to abandon these artists (and to not bother you guys to much with it).
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:iconarisniam:
arisniam Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2010
I'm not aware if anyone has mentioned this already, but when it comes to painted over/manipulated works there could be a function, like a notice or a button on one side of the deviation page, that would work as a banner, saying that the work is probably not authentic or original.

The banner could be activated by the dA administration if valid notes have been submitted to them, bringing the matter to their attention.

As far as the vigilante flaming is considered, if a deviation is already marked as one of questionable origin/making, then flaming comments could be banned/flagged.
This would definitely create more work for the admins, and I can't suggest *exactly* how the flagging comments system could work, but I hope the idea helps.
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:iconarisniam:
arisniam Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2010
I wouldn't call it an accusation, more like a questioning of authenticity. But I get your point.
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:iconrealitysquared:
realitysquared Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Unfortunately such a banner would be a bad idea due to the fact that nobody who wasn't present during the creation of the work could really say with 100% certainty that some sort of fraud is going on, and even if there is a little bit of doubt we want to absolutely avoid making any "official" accusations on that subject because it could be considered to be defamatory.
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:iconbleedsopretty:
bleedsopretty Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2010
i kinda feel bad for people who do stuff like that. that they feel that in order to be respected or get any sort of attention on this site you have to have AMAZING drawings etc. so i guess they don't feel like they have any other choice perhaps? well and then of course you just have people doing it out of laziness ? anywayzz..

i missed your journals.. :heart:
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:iconrealitysquared:
realitysquared Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
That is sort of true- it's an unfortunate fact that far to many people are obsessed with the never-ending quest for attention and "popularity" and I suppose if you were that desperate or insecure cheating your way into being known as an "awesome" artist with photo-realism skills would probably seem to be a good idea at the time.

As far as my journals are concerned I'm going to try to write them a bit more often again - I spend a little too much time in the backroom areas around here and not enough time out front where people can see me :p
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:iconsnowraven-moonstar:
SnowRaven-Moonstar Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2010   Writer
I admit to not really knowing a lot about this. My focus is writing not visual art and while I have certain training it is not the kind that woudl allow me to distinguish digitally altered work from that which is all done by hand so forgive me if anything i say shows my own ignorance.

I have a thought. Since it is possible to take photos and create a digitally made sketch to make it seem that it was done by hand would it also be possible for someone to manufacture "evidence" in the same way against someone if they have an axe to grind and want to ruin an artists reputation.

I've seen some appalling examples of vigilantism over the last half year or so and so this is why I wonder about it. I know that people wanting to look legitimate and not like someone with a beef or like someone on a witch-hunt will submit evidence against the person they believe are cheating and the like. i was just wondering if such evidence could be manufactured in a similar way to people manufacturing counterfeit progresses of supposed art pieces.


Another thing i've been thinking about for a while since I've started seeing various accusations of painting over photos and the like this last little while...is reworking old stories, specifically fanfiction. I often wonder how these people would feel about this or how writers might feel about it. Could these stories be considered the writer's version of painting over a photo or would it be given a bit more credit since even a genuine ff tries to be original if only in plot...and if the plot was original enough or far enough away from the original creator's idea and if the rewrite was chagned enough to not show the original source would it be considered cheating still or merely inspiration. I've wondered this for a while since I have old stories I've thought about rewriting but ended up only workign on in drips and drabs. It's just something I've been thinking about for a while. I thought i'd throw it out there and see if anyone had anything to say...
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:iconrealitysquared:
realitysquared Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
While I agree that it would be easy to manufacture "evidence" the problem with trying to do so is that you can't sneak the faked piece into someone elses gallery so it'd be a bit difficult to launch any sort of campaign against anyone when everything in that person's gallery is legitimate and you're hosting your faked somewhere else.

The most damning thing is when the accusations appear to be true because the faked work is actually in the accused person's gallery and they are actually making false claims about what it is that they've done.

As as vigilantism is concerned I am in complete agreement with you that certain segments of the community have tipped over the edge into loony, over-protective extremism - we are forced to reject the most ridiculous claims sometimes.

As far as reworking old ideas go, it's important to remember that for all intents and purposes originality is dead - just about everything has been done by someone by now. "Originality" is now best defined as something which is original to you and not deliberately copied from anywhere or anybody else.

Considering that there are no original ideas left, especially in fanfiction or other fan works since those genres are very narrow in scope and focus, it's to be expected that some works are going to appear very similar to another work - we in CEA see this all the time and it's not typically a problem as long as the differences outweigh the similarities by a good degree.
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:iconsnowraven-moonstar:
SnowRaven-Moonstar Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2010   Writer
I can certainly see how difficult it would be to manufacture evidence and get it into another's gallery. What about making it seem that one peace was copied from another though? Art is referenced often enough. I would have to assume there are ways of telling thought software whether something ahs been referenced and done from scratch and when somethign has been painted over? I do appologize. I don't know much about digital art. All my history in art knowledge comes from more "traditional" forms of art. I dont' really know how most of these programs work for the most part.

I hate drama and vigilantism. I especially hate it when I get messaged personally with demands to stop watching one artist or another because they are "cheating" and what all. That happened to me recently. Thankfully the people who messaged me were fairly reasonable about leaving me alone when I told them to. I didn't even have to block them but it was still a little much. I dont' really agree with creating accounts for no other reason than to harass other artists but it seems to becomign more common...but maybe it's always been done and I've only just recently been made aware of it due to being drawn partly into the drama. I just don't understand it...especially since it's so easy to get people to believe something and so many just blithely jump on the band wagon without doing their homework. *shakes head* sorry...I didn't mean to go on a ramble about it.

Yes, that's mainly what I thought. There are only so many plots and conflicts and so there are bound to be similiarities. I've even read some (well known) series in which the references are fairly obvious though I imagine it was deliberate. I have just often thought about some of the better FF I worked on before I got more interested in original stories or started finding ways to take a plot idea and make it original without being a FF. Some of them were original enough that I've thought about reworking them but with all the current concerns about overpainting in art I did wonder if doing that woudl be the writer's version of overpainting and if it was cheating.

this makes me feel a little better about it though. It's still tricky to rework things though but perhaps I might go back and try working on it. :) Thank you so much for your reply. I always find your journals helpful and interesting. I appreciate it that you take the time to write these journals concerning policy and the like. There are a lot of people on DA who have a tendency to scream "unfair" when policy is enforced in their own galleries. I'm glad that you take the time to address some of teh conerns. :D take care.
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