Herald Update - Praetor Edition #1 - Plagiarism in the DB


Herald Update - Praetor Edition #1 - Plagiarism in the DB


Greetings Artists of the Brotherhood!

Today I am going to dip into a few topics that will help clear up any confusion and offer a more enjoyable art experience throughout the DJB. These topics have come up rather recently, so having a more in depth explanation of them will do everyone some good!


Plagiarism has been a rather large issue in our Club since we require original content in our competitive environment. In graphics specifically, it’s often hard to determine what is and is not plagiarized, but we strive to keep our members honest and keep them developing original content through well worded competition prompts. Despite this, some plagiarisms may fall through and we aim to minimize these incidents because, ultimately, it’s not about getting first place if it means you acquire the attention of the Justicar.

After discussing this topic in depth with the DGM, JST and HRLD, we would like to explain some very basic notions of what plagiarism is and what it isn’t in graphics, and would like to point out several important lessons we have learned that may help you improve and avoid any issues.

Tracing in the DJB

Plagiarism in graphics is almost universally sourced back to tracing an image from someone else’s work. So what is tracing? Tracing is a method of “copying” a shape from one canvas to another and using it as a basis for applying paint or, in the case of digital drawing, colorization.

Tracing covers a broad range of activities — like tracing poses, specific body parts, hand motions, facial expressions, etc — and it is mostly accepted in the artist community at large under certain conditions. On the internet, however, tracing is mostly associated with literal copying, line for line, of someone’s hard drawn artwork. We will cover some of the methods down the line, but suffice to say that used properly, tracing may be applied to various images to help the artist and shorten work times, or help out in areas the artist isn’t all too good at.

The Herald staff applies a method of tracing where we use pre-made and traced body references to create all the robes you see in the Brotherhood. This type of “tracing” is universally considered acceptable because the majority of the work comes in later stages.

Here’s another example of how tracing works to help the artist:

This image was done by Vyr, and he has given me permission to use it. Vyr is still learning, much like many of our other artists in the Club, and has issues with human anatomy and often takes several hours to do it right, so he uses reference images and traces the skeleton poses (second and third frames) that he builds his work off of. These types of images take hours for amateur artists to finish and there is a lot of effort involved in trying to learn from examples. Within our community, for the purposes of competitive drawing, these methods are acceptable but need to be sourced and cited as often as possible.

The Dark Side of tracing

There is a form of tracing that is widely considered unacceptable, and that is copying, line for line, some else’s work. An example of this is shown below:

What is so different between this image and the ones above. For one, there is a minimal amount of work done to change or improve the artwork, there is minimal (if any) intention to change the lines or improve one’s self by doing so. This kind of tracing is generally considered plagiarism and will be dealt with by the Justicar.

Photo manipulation

Photo manipulation is another, often controversial area that people link to plagiarism. However, if you cite your sources correctly and sufficiently manipulate the images, you have nothing to fear. Stock images, in general, are considered a viable resource as long as you provide credit to the original authors. There are many, many sites on the internet that provide these services, some commercial some free. Don’t be frightened to use photo manipulation as a method of creating great art, but remember to always credit those that provide your tools.

A good example of photo manipulation:


There is an unclear line between original art and plagiarized art, especially in our Club environment, because it is often hard to determine which art was copied and which wasn’t. As always, we rely on your honesty most of all, but always have ways of finding plagiarism. Many people who join and participate do so because it is a fun past-time activity, or hobby. However, there are still rules that we must apply to ensure plagiarism of the worst kind is prevented.

What is important to note here? Both tracing and photo manipulation can be helpful tools or a problem that the Justicar has to handle eventually, so our best suggestion is: Be honest. Cite your sources. If you have used a pose reference, a stock image or another artist’s work for one of your own artworks, it is important to cite it in your competition entry comments. If you do this, the judges can then determine the amount of work that went into your entry and judge accordingly. If you take the time to understand the differences and requirements for original work, you will be fine. Just keep in mind the fine line that is walked when it comes to these topics.

In most cases, if you are honest about your sources, you can avoid trouble with the Justicar even if the tracing is borderline unacceptable. In those instances, your entry might be disqualified, but you could avoid the Justicar. It is the cover up that damages you and demonstrates intent to plagiarize.

If you do use tracing or photo manipulation as a method, use it responsibly for your own betterment and growth, not to win internet points. Your integrity is worth much, much more, so please be responsible and help us out.

Additional on topic reading:

Clusters of Graphite

With the successful release of the Cluster of Graphite, there has been some slight confusion when it comes to the awarding of them. Please note first and foremost, there is NO automated system in place for awarding Clusters of Graphite, yet.

All requests must be sent to [Log in to view e-mail addresses] for approval. Also note, any competitions that do not specify that they award Clusters of Graphite WILL NOT award Clusters of Graphite. I.E. the competition will always have “…grants CGs…” in the description.

There are some wiki pages that are available for use when it comes to the Clusters of Graphite and graphics competition approval. Please direct your attention to the following articles:

So there you have it. Some important topics that we felt needed to be discussed with the membership of the club. If there are any questions, please feel free to let us know immediately! Thank you all for your time and get back to arting!

Arcia Cortel, Praetor to the Herald

This is some very critical information! Thank you for the detailed and clear (and frank) discussion on the matter!

Thank you for all the clarification! Citation is important.

Looking forward to all the gpx comps in the future.

Thanks for the info. Y'all are doin great work!

Important information delivered clearly

Well done, my friend

Awesome update and some great tips and explanations!

As someone who isn't a gfx designer at all, it is interesting to know that tracing could be a form of legitimate competitiveness in the club (to a degree). I've personally wanted to improve upon some of my artistic ability, but didn't really think about tracing as a form of that.

This actually shows me some ways to improve my artistic ability and help to give clear bounds on what is considered acceptable so lots of good in this latest report

Thank you indeed for covering this. All too often this sort of thing gets overlooked or brushed under the rug, even when it comes to the big comicbook industries. Having such a concise and detailed examination of what is acceptable as a reference point and how plagarism can seep into a work is incredibly helpful.

Great update, Esca! You should do more reports like this. Just the 'tracing' section alone was super informative, great inspiration, and well done.

Not gonna lie but things like this are what drove me away from the art community here. Tracing is fine. In certain instances as explained above. But I personally still think there's other things that need to be addressed regarding the community. I'm glad you talked about this. It's a good step. I haven't been able to return to the art community because of other things but perhaps I cam email someone about it so it also can be cleared up on levels like this.

Awesome update. It helped me see some of the differences and admire Vyr's tracing. Always love seeing art from the DB's members

If you think there are issues with the art community that need to be addressed, you can email me directly or the Herald staff at dbherald@googlegroups.com. If you're not comfortable with that, you may also use the complaints form we have set up. Hope that helps. I encourage anyone to contact me on any issues. We can't resolve problems if we're not aware of them.

A bit late to the party, but good info. :P

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