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Banes at 12:00AM, Nov. 2, 2017

Cheat, cheat, no reason to play fair…(the Clash)

Years ago, when I did my first animation and posted it online, looking for attention like always, there was one comment that made me defensive, annoyed, and eventually, thoughtful.

I had no idea about animation timing or any of the little rules at the time; I just wanted to do animation. I'd managed to find a tutorial online about creating animation using a whiteboard and free software.

It was a little one minute joke thing. Just a silly thing, but it was cute.

Anyway, the comment that struck me a little odd was this: “If you drew this on paper, it's pretty good!”

My initial reaction (which is fairly close to my reaction now) was “who cares if I did it on paper? What difference does that make?”

I guess the commenter was gauging my level of artistic skill. To me, that's irrelevant (a convenient point of view, maybe, for a lazy artist).

To me, the only thing that matters is “was it entertaining? Funny, or scary, or touching or whatever? Could you understand what was happening?”

I heard the great comic artist Neal Adams in an interview where he talked about the idea of “cheating” in artwork. He doesn't see using photo references, copypasting as anything but tools to increase his output. To get a job at Archie comics, he even traced some Dan Decarlo art. I'm told that a lot of comic artists trace photos to create their pages.

There are a lot of webcomics that use copypasted or simplified styles or stick figures or whatever. Some of them work and some don't (for me personally, I mean). All that matters to me is whether I enjoy them.

What do you think? Does it matter how a comic is created? Is it “cheating” to cut corners like this?

In Comic Blockbuster news: Thor: Ragnarok opens this weekend. I'm just a buzzin' with excitement to see this thing! Cannot wait!!

Happy Thursday!




penciljunkie at 3:30PM, Nov. 5, 2017

It depends on the motive . If you are doing this and claiming it as your own and accepting everyones accolades then it is wrong . if you are honest about it and using it as a vehicle to tell your story then it's ok . For me it would defeat the purpose of making the comic since I'm concentrated on the art itself and improving my skill.

Tantz_Aerine at 6:24PM, Nov. 3, 2017

I think it depends on how the copying and the tracing and the like occurs. Tracing other peoples' work and claiming it as yours I think is wrong. Copying and generally relying on other peoples' composition skills to create your own work is also wrong. Tracing and copying from real life I think is fine, on condition that it again doesn't overtake your own artistic independence.

Avart at 11:24PM, Nov. 2, 2017

Interesting and nice Banes! I'm always looking for a new way to make my comic better/nicer/faster and definitely many of my resources come from photos, either a pose or either a background. I know some pros (and I know about other pros that do the same) who haven't assistants and uses photos or 3D models/backgrounds (me too) to save time because the publishing dates are insanely short. So, they decide to use that 'cheat' to increase the production and have 'some' free time to stay with family/friends. It's arguable, many would think is unfair or talent lacking/laziness... I'm not.

zinccomics at 4:07PM, Nov. 2, 2017

"Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up." - Wally Wood

fallopiancrusader at 10:51AM, Nov. 2, 2017

Interesting subject. I had been planning on doing a youtube video in a similar vein in the near future. I define "cheating" as "breaking the rules," so I would want to define the rules first. I believe that the commercial art (like comics) and fine art industries follow different mechanisms here. In commercial art, there are two rules: Rule 1) "The product must please the client." Rule 2) "You cannot take someone else's work and call it your own." Other than that, anything goes. In the fine arts, it is up to the artist to create the rules, and then follow them. For example, In Yayoi Kusama's work, the strength of the piece lies in the time it takes her to paint millions of dots everywhere. The process of the painting is more important than the finished installation. If she were to use a spray gun to paint her dots, then that would be cheating, because she is breaking her own rules.

cdmalcolm1 at 10:04AM, Nov. 2, 2017

This is not new in any way. Hollywood, the music business, fashion, you name it. They do this all the time. As Pros, it comes down to pleasing the Employer and making onlookers crave at the end results. Time is money. Fans that find out that a pro didn't completely draw something, may think that they are cheating. Where as the pros think, "that's like drawing a straight line without a ruler. Why would you do it?" Tools, Tracing and References helps make the 'art' what it is. Recording Studios Cheat all the time. There is NO BAND and yet there is music. Basically what I'm saying is, Pros don't call it Cheating. They call it Production or Producing. Don't take offense I was a starving artist once. Starving artist who don't know how to make money with their own art are just artist. Sure artist can produce but they are not in production. Face it. We all know what looks good. Artist that don't use a "cheating" method will not learn how to do it right. It's guessing.

hansrickheit at 9:53AM, Nov. 2, 2017

I frequently "cheat" by making photo-collages from various found sources for backdrops in my comics. I transfer the image onto paper with a lightbox and draw in the figures by hand. An example can be seen here: This particular image was used for the latest page of COCHLEA & EUSTACHIA, which can be seen here:

bravo1102 at 8:08AM, Nov. 2, 2017

You see some things will always be good enough and others will NEVER be good enough, cheating or not.

bravo1102 at 8:03AM, Nov. 2, 2017

But at the end of the day it's just like KAM said about Mutt and Jeff, nobody cares if he didn't have heart for his art. He was wildly successful. Nobody cared about the Lion King or Robin Thicke or the tracing in 1950s Disney classics or the extra effort and love someone puts in. If it doesn't match their definition of art or criteria for the genre might as well not bother or stay awake nights wondering when your best will ever be good enough and knowing full well it won't just because you use photos or digital.

bravo1102 at 7:12AM, Nov. 2, 2017

Though there are times when the absolute perfect shot doesn't come to me until the edit and I will reshoot.

bravo1102 at 6:50AM, Nov. 2, 2017

Whereas the guy you'd expect to make extensive use of stock footage, doesn't. I will occasionally reuse close ups but I will change the expression. I go through unused images or deleted scenes to fill in but not repeat images. I shoot enough images from enough alternate views so that I have additional images from the first set up. More work during shooting means less work during editing. Just like producing a movie. Have that extra take in the can just in case.

mks_monsters at 6:48AM, Nov. 2, 2017

Maybe it is because it was beaten into me, but I do not consider referencing and tracing as the same thing. And I firmly stand by doing the work yourself and if you do have a partner, give credit properly. I mean the very definition of being an artist is doing all the work yourself hence the saying; you cannot spell heart without art.

KimLuster at 6:34AM, Nov. 2, 2017

I've heard of a phrase: "If you ain't cheatin' - you ain't tryin'!" There's some subtle nuggets in that phrase!! I've yet to do any actual tracing in my comics, because it would've undermined one of my goals, which was to get better at drawing without tracing, referencing photos, etc... But if I were in production, and time=money, I wouldn't hesitate if I thought I could twist it enough to look different enough from the original and more my own... I've often wondered if 'digital touch up' is sorta cheating for so-called Traditional Artist like myself. As I've gotten better with Gimp, I've used it to enhance highlights, shadows, and colors of scanned drawn images. Even modified a proportion or three! My overall opinion - if a reader/viewer likes it, it worked!!

KAM at 6:17AM, Nov. 2, 2017

Bud Fisher, the creator of the comic strip Mutt and Jeff, was criticised by other artists familiar with his other work for not drawing the strip better. Fisher felt the strip didn't need the extra work to be funny and successful. And successful it was.

thunderdavid at 5:46AM, Nov. 2, 2017

Yea this topic hit it on the nail for me. I kinda cheat, with copy and paste. I remember learning how animators would practice this to save time & money. Of course I'm not making money but it saves me time. Lately, I've been more concern of my story rather the art. And had redo some pages. So i feel who cares how the art was done. Was the damn story entertaining?

bravo1102 at 5:44AM, Nov. 2, 2017

Sorry Banes for hijacking the thread and making it the "let's bash Disney" Cheating by Stealing stuff from yourself or from the public domain is one thing, or borrowing for a parody but it's something else again to lift copyrighted material is another, isn't that right Mr. Thicke?

bravo1102 at 5:32AM, Nov. 2, 2017

$1.4 million worth. :) Would have cost less to buy the rights outright like Tarantino did. Really stupid.

ozoneocean at 4:49AM, Nov. 2, 2017

The ip holders of The Lion Sleeps Tonight however were XD

bravo1102 at 4:49AM, Nov. 2, 2017

For anything else you want to say about him Quentin Tarantino bought the rights to the original Inglorious Bastards and financed the restoration of it and the original Django before producing his films.

bravo1102 at 4:40AM, Nov. 2, 2017

The producer's of Kimba were in no condition to litigate so it's the same thing as being in the public domain to some people. ;)

ozoneocean at 4:16AM, Nov. 2, 2017

The lion king though was IP theft, which is another level of cheating ;) Shakespeare is copyright free

bravo1102 at 4:12AM, Nov. 2, 2017

The most beloved Disney Snow White almost all the normal humans were traced from live action filmed footage. Fleischer, another animation pioneer famous for the superb Superman cartoons of the 1940s also traced live action footage for human movement. Michelangelo used tracings done in his studio to transfer the images into the Sistine Chapel. They're everywhere. :D

bravo1102 at 3:34AM, Nov. 2, 2017

Regarding Disney, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty as well as Robin Hood and Jungle Book all shared traced sequences. Far more so than The Lion King where the whole story is lifted from Shakespeare.

ozoneocean at 3:24AM, Nov. 2, 2017

Cheating is pretty normal in the world of the pros. A LOT of comic art is traced from photos or poser figures. Unfortunately it's easy to tell and when you notice it it looks pretty weak... But a lot of people just DON'T notice. One of Disney's most famous films, the Lion King, as a direct rip-off from the famous anime Kimba the White Lion, even directly tracing scenes. The rest of their thievery was supplied from Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book. They even stole song "the Lion Sleeps Tonight" for it. And yet this unoriginal pile of IP theft is one of the most beloved things ever. More on the subject of "cheating" in comics, many used to consider any kind of digital drawing to be "cheating", in the mistaken belief that drawing with a tablet is any different to drawing on paper. There are arguments about the differences between Pixel Art, custom sprites, recoloured sprites and just using game sprite sheets...

ozoneocean at 3:14AM, Nov. 2, 2017

On second thoughts, I don't really want to cheat by stealing the subject, haha! Doubling up isn't a great idea.

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