Respect the artist, show the love

Once in a while, I shall post on homebrew day something only slightly related to homebrew. Today, I explain how to properly find images and credit artists.

Why should you cite art?

Remember that a human being (or multiples) likely spend many hours on the art piece you are using. The minimum you can do is to make sure you don’t scatter their content and strip it of any authorship. Artists hate that. I’m sure you can imagine.

Moreover, it is possible to use great illustrations, without being an art thief. You can find tips at the end of the post.

How do I cite art?

If you want to do it Chicago Style, check this link.

Otherwise, one of the two should be enough.

  • Name of the artist (and if possible, link to the direct page)

  • Name of the rights holder, including a link. Unless the connection is obvious, for instance for an Image of Dhalsim, “Street Fighter, ©Capcom” is enough. For an image of Kratos, “God of War” shall do. And so on.

You can add the citation under the image, or at the end of the document, in its own section.

I found it on a wiki/website, is that not enough?

Unless this is the official website or wiki of a brand, no. You should either cite the artist, or the owner of the copyright/distribution rights.

 Public Domain Images

While you can do whatever you want with public domain images, it’s good to share the love. I recommend to indicate that those images are from the public domain.

How to find the source of an image?

For art, if you do not know the author or owner of the content, you can try a google, tineye or Bing reverse image-search. There are multiple browser extensions to do that with a simple click. Chrome, Firefox, Edge (native with Bing), and Safari (look up BackTrack).

But the best way to avoid this problem is to start by using only identifiable art.

Great Image Sources:

  • artstation.com

  • deviantart.com

  • Some of the Imaginary Subreddits such as r/ImaginaryMonsters, r/ImaginaryCharacters, r/ImaginaryLandscapes and so on.

  • Image search with your favorite search engine with the right keyword. For instance, “D&D Bard Character Art”.

  • Sometimes pinterest. However if you want to exclude it from your image search, use -site:pinterest.*

  • And now something very interesting, you can use WoTC official art, including art from their books and Magic the Gathering, as long as you respect their fan policy (more below on that).

    • Use theartofmtg.com to browse some, or just look up cards.

    • There are multiple sites to identify the artist of a certain card, including wotc’s own one, the Gatherer.

    • Many WotC artists have their card arts on their website, their artstation, or deviantart. For instance, Steve Argyle.

How to not be an art thief, and still use great art

It is true that in 99,999% of the cases, no one is going to bother you if you are using some image without permission. Especially if your content is just for you and a few people. But you can still respect Intellectual Property, and use great images.

Most of those solutions assume you are making noncommercial fan content. Therefore, they do not apply to the DMsGuild, even PWYW content (which is reflected in their policy, that they enforce).

 Ask or Pay the artist

Go directly to the source: ask permission from the artist. Some of them kindly grant it ; however, most won’t respond or deny you, understandably so.

You can even pay them! Or commission a piece. If you do so, the advantage is that you can also get commercial rights that way. You can use deviantart jobs forum or similar to find artists ready to work. The quality and the price range are extremely broad.

 Wizard’s Fan Content policy

Per Wizard’s Fan Content policy, you can use any of their art, as long as you include this piece of text:

“[Title of your Fan Content] is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.”

There are certain things you can’t use, including their logos and trademarks.

Read more.

You can find magic art on theartofmtg.com, or look up artist names and find it on their website. Many of them do have artstation pages or deviantart pages.

 Trade suite, GMBinder and Homebrewery

This policy also extends to Wizards trade suite, meaning the PHB template and so on. If you use one of those themes on GMbinder or the Homebrewery, you are doing fan content and must abide by this policy. GMBinder is also soon going to include that piece of text on the wotc templates.

If you don’t want to abide by this policy, or be bound by it, then you need to create your own theme, not use one of WotC official’s one. But again, if you are just doing homebrew for fun and a small audience, you’re 99,999% safe.

 Public Domain

Some images are in the public domain. You can do whatever you want with those, including selling them.

However, there are very few you could manage to use in your brew. Outside of using old paintings, here are two interesting sources:

  • Lady of Hats have some great D&D B&W public domain art on wikimedia. Check her out.

  • Sine Nomine Publishing, behind Star Without Numbers, also has made available art from their kickstarted pieces for free. And by that, I mean in the public domain. Look for their art pack in that list. They also have some great 0$ content, so check those out.

You can also find lots of public domain images around the web, a search query for “public domain images” is going to lead you to those.

 Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a license that gives you the right to use the content, under some conditions set by the creator. Most of what you are going to find is going to be CC-NC-BY-ND. Short version: you can’t use it in commercial content, must give proper attribution, and can’t modify the image too much (cropping is fine). Creative Commons is granted irrevocably Another important thing is that some Creative Commons licenses force you to share the work with that same licence. A good way to enforce its spirit of sharing. But as always, read carefully the fine prints. Creative Commons is readable by humans, so that is easy in that case.

 Where to find CC images?

The Creative Commons organisation maintains a search engine that lets you search a number of different image providers specifically for material on them licensed under CC.

And there are many DeviantArt artists who publish their images under CC For example:

Although you can use your favorite search engine to try to filter the web by creative commons images, it’s not that efficient. And once more, there are many CC images on wikipedia.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments!

Next Week

Next week in homebrew, I am probably going to share some revisions and the reason of the changes. Playtesting yielded some great insight for some of my subclasses.

Follow me on twitter and support me on patreon for more long content.

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