Artists VS Copyrights

Commissions. The money generator for the starving artist. Many artists use commissions as their career; powering their lives by taking paid requests from clients. A drawing of a fox here, maybe an otter or two there, or even original characters doing their thing. All of these are totally legal and fine to do. Let’s talk about something that isn’t so legal. Copyright infringement.

Before I begin, let me lay down a quick disclaimer: I speak the truth! What I am about to describe IS indeed illegal and counts as copyright/trademark infringement. Whether or not the copyright/trademark holders will actually bust you for it is another matter entirely. Just know that, should they turn their baleful gaze your way, your legal defense is nil.

Being an artist myself, when I have commissions opened, I will occasionally get a request to draw things such as Nintendo characters, Pokemon, etc. I end up having to turn these down more often than not, because I do not own the characters in question, and neither will I draw the characters for free. (Repeat to yourself: “Exposure doesn’t pay rent”)

Well now, how is drawing these characters for money illegal, you may ask. Simple. Copyright. You CAN draw any character under the sun regardless of who owns it; however, you CANNOT receive money for such drawings. The moment money crosses hands, you’ve violated copyright by profiting from a character that is owned by another entity without permission.

If you’re drawing a character belonging to the commissioner, they are, in effect, giving you permission to make money off of their original character (do not confuse this with the popularized concept of an “OC”. More on that later) for this singular instance and then revoking that permission once the drawing is finished and paid for. They cannot provide legal permission to draw, say, Pikachu, because they do not own Pikachu. Gamefreak does.

Now, what about “OCs”, (the popularized version) that is to say, characters BASED off of owned properties? For example, a Pikachu that’s wearing a bow-tie?

Still illegal. It’s still a reasonable facsimile of a copyrighted character. Even if it’s different colors, wears different clothes, and has different abilities; if it’s still presented as [NAME] the Pikachu, it is in violation. I would also argue that that does not make it an “OC”, as that is an oxy-moron. How is it an “Original” character if it’s based on a copyrighted character? I personally feel “CC” or “Custom(ized) Character” is more appropriate, although I doubt it’ll catch on.

Alright, so… what about an anthropomorphic fennec fox wearing a top hat and aviator shades?

Totally legal. Nobody owns the concept of a fennec fox, therefor you’re in the clear so long as that top hat doesn’t have a Nike symbol on it or anything like that. This also counts (in my book) as a true “OC” because while fennec foxes are a real thing, and your character is based off of them, again, nobody owns the concept of a fennec fox. They just are. This means you’re not basing your work off of anyone else’s work, but rather off of the seeming randomness of reality.

So basically, you can draw whatever the hell you like no matter who owns what, BUT, if you charge money for it, you’d better either have ownership of the characters in question, or have permission from whomever does. Derivatives of copyrighted characters are no exception to this; however, derivatives of non-copyrighted characters are. These laws help keep art thieves from getting away with whatever they please, protecting large companies and individual artists alike equally. Oh, and if you were wondering as to how to acquire a copyright on your own characters… draw them, and make sure you have a signature/watermark. Preferably with a date. (I include the current year in mine) That’s all you need. The signature/watermark isn’t necessarily required, as simply drawing the thing makes it yours (unless it’s derivative or explicitly NOT yours) but having a provable identifying mark on each of your works, this concept being the origin of the word “Trademark”, helps.

Now go forth, and sin no more!… or do! I’m not the boss of you. Just be careful and don’t be a scumbag who rips off poor artists. This post’s featured drawing is from 2012, and features my signature from back then.

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Here’s what I’ve got in mind for this…

I like to ramble, yes? I mean, it’s in the title of this blog (presuming you’re viewing this on WordPress) so… where’s the ramblings? En route!

To be perfectly honest, I’m not completely sure which direction I should go with this. I’ve got many varied interests including art, programming, videogames, and the like, but I’m at a loss as to what potential viewers would like to see. That said, how about a big ol’ cornucopia of whatever happens to be on my mind?

Basically, this blog shall earn it’s name by becoming a sort of “mind dump” at first, then, through viewer feedback or wherever the winds of thought take me, the blog will adapt to suit that need.

I will say though, before we head down this road, I must promise the following:

  • I will NOT rant about politics.
    • Politics are something I pay passing attention to, and can occasionally be passionate about, but for sake of brevity and maintaining a positive environment, that is not something I will be discussing here.
  • Discussions/drawings will remain work-safe.
    • I could go the other way with this…. but nah.
  • Discussions concerning photography, art, and programming are from the perspective of an Amateur/Hobbyist.
    • Take what I say with a grain of salt. I could very well be wrong!
    • If you know better than I, constructive criticism is appreciated.
  • Discussions surrounding controversial topics such as LGBTQ ethics shall be avoided.
    • While I support LGBTQ people and their rights, I am an outsider and am thus ignorant, so for the sake of not making myself look like an idiot, or giving the wrong impression, I’m saying nothing on this subject.

How often can you expect posts? I… dunno. Subscribe to the RSS to make sure you don’t miss anything, if not missing anything I post happens to coincide with your ambitions. :3

Lastly, about today’s featured image, this was a fun thing I made in… late 2015? I can’t remember exactly, but it was made in Corel Painter 2016 using a Wacom Intuos 5 Touch. Could’ve blended the clouds a bit more, but I do love the shadows/highlights. A fun technical exercise to see just how much I could do in Painter. Turns out, quite a lot!

Creeping Back to Life

Last post was August 22nd, 2014. Loooong time ago now, isn’t it? Nearly ancient history in internet time. Ah well, I kinda figured it’d go that way. Didn’t help that life reared back and punched me in the face (more than once) since then. OH WELL!

On with the regrouping, I suppose. This blog will have the same feel as before, more or less. Dunno if I’ll be continuing the storm photo showcase or not. We’ll see.

Not sure if I want to continue using this theme, what with the whole ‘shoved to the left’ thing going on. Either way, chest compressions and whatnot are underway as I pick up this blog I dropped 3 years ago. Here’s hoping I hold onto it for more than two months this time.

Storm Photography 11

Storm11
More nifty clouds. Last of this day’s batch. (6/24/2013)

As the caption says, this is the last of this day’s activity. What a photogenic day that was. After this, we move on to 2014 and some of my most recent shots.

Storm Photography 9

Storm9
More lightning. Caught a little bit of streetlight on the left just out of view. (6/24/2013)

Not too shabby, but I did manage to get some lens flare distortion from a street light off-shot. My lens hood is too long for the lens I was using, otherwise that probably wouldn’t have been an issue here.

Storm Photography 8

Storm 8
First time trying my hand at lightning photography. Blurriness is expected. (6/24/2013)

And here we have one of the shots from the first time I tried taking photos of lightning. Sorry it’s a bit blurry, but such is the nature of the beast. I can’t recall if I had my tripod with me that night or not.

Tip time! Wanna know how to do this? You’ll need the following for best performance: A decent tripod with lockable footings, a remote trigger (technically optional, but highly recommended. Doesn’t have to be wireless), a DSLR camera, or other camera that allows manual shutter control or “bulb” mode.

Oh, and don’t try this if you have work the next morning. This and tomorrow’s shot were taken between 2 and 3 AM.

Confirm via Doppler radar that the storm you want to shoot is NOT headed towards you. $500+ cameras don’t like rain very much. A storm jacket may protect it, but setting up the remote trigger might be tricky. Best case scenario, the storm is passing very nearby without any precipitation reaching you. This’ll provide a nice clear shot without worrying about verga… or virga? The hazy cloud-like thing that is actually heavy rainfall. It obscures your view.

Set up your tripod and mount your camera. Use a Kit Lens (All around lens that’s a jack-of-all-trades master-of none) or a Wide Angle lens if you have one. Do NOT use a telephoto lens. You want the physical length to be as short as possible to allow more light to hit your sensor. If you have a lens with Image Stability, disable it. Also disable auto-focus, since you’ve got nothing to focus on. Set your aperture as wide open as it will go to enable maximum light intake and focal depth of field. (f-stop 22 or higher) Set your ISO value high. (Normally you never want to do this because you’ll have tremendous noise, but if you don’t, the shot will come out black.) Have it facing towards the storm, but make damn sure there are no street lights or other lights in your view. They will whitewash the shot. Set your camera to bulb mode, or manual shutter. If you can’t do this, set the shutter speed as long as it will go; you want the aperture to be open as long as possible.

Connect your remote trigger if you have one (they’re cheap as hell. You can easily get one for ~$15) and test it to make sure it’s working. You do NOT want to have any physical contact with the camera. The pressure of the blood flowing through your body as your heart beats is enough to foul the image. (as seen above)

Once you’re ready, frame your shot towards your target area and then take repeated shots with the aperture open for 15-30 seconds apiece. Any lightning that occurs in line of sight of your camera while the aperture is open -should- be captured.

You’re going to have a lot of blank shots. That’s just fine and is bound to happen. Some of the hits might not turn out so great depending on the brightness of the bolt of lightning in question. If you luck out, you’ll get a bolt of lightning that’s off to one side, but is easily croppable.

Just be sure to keep an eye on the radar and know for certain if anything’s headed your way. General lightning safety rules apply here; don’t stand in the middle of a field. Look out from a group of trees or other objects more likely to get struck than you. (Ok, that’s not really a best case scenario, but then again, you’re trying to take a picture of a stream of electrically charged exploding air molecules ten times hotter than the surface of the sun.¬†Clearly you’re a risk taker.) Be prepared to QUICKLY¬†pack up and take cover if things get hectic, and if you hear sirens, assume it’s gotten hectic. Even if it’s a false alarm, it’s late night with zero base visibility. Not even the craziest storm chasers chase at night, so get your ass indoors and take cover because you WON’T see it coming. The difference between a badass and a dumbass is that the badass survived.

I’ve got one more shot from that night and a couple from the next day that, in my opinion, are my best shots yet. You’re gonna dig them muchly.

Storm Photography 7

Storm7
More pretty cumulonimbus action! (10/25/2012)

The last of that day’s shots. This was selected from a 2-shot bracket; one of them on Full Auto, this one on Manual. This one came out much better in my opinion.

Storm Photography 6

Storm6
I love it when storms are really dark like this. (10/25/2012)

Another shot by the Rebel on the same day. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but man can the Rebel do dramatic lighting better than the PowerShot… Or perhaps it’s because I’ve got it in manual exposure and by this time I’ve had Photography I in college and I actually know what I’m doing… Somewhat.

Storm Photography 5: Enter the Rebel

Storm5
Dramatic lighting. The Canon Rebel T3 is good at it. (10/25/2012)

Up until now, the shots you’ve seen have been taken by a Canon PowerShot A470. Days before this was taken, I came into the possession of something much much greater: The Canon Rebel T3 DSLR. It is my baby, and this is it’s debut in storm photography.