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Liar, Liar, Wacom on fire.. - Disgruntled Artists

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Previous Entry Liar, Liar, Wacom on fire.. Jan. 21st, 2004 @ 07:11 pm Next Entry
Okay, I have a small issue here that I want to get out into the open. It's about people who lie.

I personally know of several artists who lie about what they do to achieve certain effects in their art. And by god, it pisses me right the hell off!

The reason for my anger is that people who are new to the medium or to art in general and who REALLY thirst to learn come to these people for help and then they are lied to!

I have seen a couple of sincere people try to incorporate the techniques that they have been falsely instructed on, only to fail miserably to achieve that effect over and over and be crushed when they come to the erroneous it was just them being untalented.

A couple of fibbers I know of use Photoshop to paint over photos and then lie and say that they are not photos and that they are freehand. There are ways to tell, usually, if you know how to use Photoshop tools to hone in on certain telltale signs. See, I have no problem with people who do photo manipulation because it takes a lot of skill to do it. I have problems with people who blatently lie (even if they are painting over photos that they themselves took).

There was a person kicked off Epi a couple of years ago when someone actually found the photo that he used for a piece. This was after about twenty people rushed to his defense and jumped on the person accusing him. I was not part of this fiasco but I followed the the event to see if Epi would do anything about it, when this was one of the most popular pieces at the time. My jaw dropped when they actually took action and purged this person's gallery.

I also know a person who airbrushes bits and pieces over his watercolours and acrylics and says that he did not. He claims that it is 100% brushwork and that it is an effect he got by knowing how to layer correctly. I know for a fact that he is lying because I was privvy to some information that I should not have overheard.

So, I guess what I am trying to get around to here is this: How do the rest of you feel about people who lie about their techniques? Do you think that they are spiteful and lacking integrity? Do you think it is within their rights because they are afraid of competition? Do you think it is wrong for someone like me to be pissed off about it? Do you think it is okay to 'out' the person and reveal what they are doing if you have absolute proof that they are lying?

I have no intention of naming names at any point but I have considered getting together with some other artists and creating a site that reveals the techniques themselves to people who are baffled by what certain artists are doing.

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Date:January 22nd, 2004 02:05 am (UTC)

I'm sure some people do lie about technique, but for the most part I see that as a sign of their own feelings of inadequacy as an artist. I'm firmly of the belief that it's the image that counts, how it was achieved may be interesting or not, but it's secondary.

The only objections I would have with this kind of lying is when breaking copyright, such as tracing copyrighted photos ( probably the most common misdemeanour in digital art on the net ) or, as you said, mis-leading a novice into trying a technique that doesn't really work. I've never seen that happen, but I'm happy to take your word that it does.

I applaud your decision not to 'name and shame' Puppy, but I would be interested in a thread with examples of 'cheat techniques' ( always willing to learn new tricks ).
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 01:12 am (UTC)
I agree entirely that it isn't the technique you used but the final product that counts when you are actually selling your work. I have nothing but the utmost respect for people who can learn shortcuts and save time and still have a piece look great.

As I said, the thing that gets my goat is that it seems like certain people don't want others to succeed and don't care if people are hurt by their intentional misleading.

No, I have no intention of naming names because that seems to be a bit immature but I see nothing at all wrong with an expose on technique and shortcuts.

Thanks for your input, Mukki! It always helps me get things into perspective...
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 02:10 am (UTC)
Yeah it pisses me off but I'm not really sure why. I think its just the inner 6 year old in me screaming "cheater cheater". And really, it is cheating when you aren't honest as to how you achieved something.

A painted over photo just isn't anywhere near as impressive as a free-handed painting. That's not to say photomanips are easy but they aren't as widely respected. That's why people lie, though. They want to be known as having the well-respected skills, not the "cheating" or "easy" ones.
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 12:52 am (UTC)
Yeah, I can understand that no one wants to be known as a hack and if people knew what goes into a photo manip to make sure that it does not look like one, I don't think the would be so quick to call it cheating. Seriously, my big problem is with dishonesty and how it discourages people who really want to learn.
Date:January 22nd, 2004 03:50 am (UTC)
I'm really confused, could someone please define what a paintover is? Is that where someone paints over parts of a photo, but keeps bits of it in the finished product? Or is a 100% painted picture still a paintover if a photo was used to trace the pose but completely deleted after that? I was under the impression that just using a pose, and nothing else, was perfectly legal. You can't copyright a pose.

I don't know that naming names is such a good idea. But I think that it would be nice if you set up a site that showed techniques on how to get certain effects that beginners don't know about. I sure would like to know some of them ;)
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 12:02 pm (UTC)
I am not 100% sure but I THINK a paintover is where someone takes a photo, pulls it up in a paint program, and then paints over it a little so that it no longer looks like a photo. I could be wrong but this is what I think the term paintover means...
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's about what I think of when I see/use the term paintover. There's always some variation on the theme...some paintovers I've seen have just played with a feature a bit (the hair, face color, whatever). Some artists put in a lot more work and it's difficult to tell if there was a photo actually as a layer of the painting or not.

I think paintovers could be made into a constructive exercise to study colors and features (if one isn't just mindlessly painting over the source), but I personally don't like seeing people try to pass off paintovers as wholly original artwork, unless they've done more than just a minor adjustment to the ear or something. :P
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 06:57 pm (UTC)
Apparently, you and I are in the minority then. Many people seem to feel that it is okay to paint over a photo and claim that you never used one. It just served to confuse me, really...
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 07:23 pm (UTC)
Sucks to be in the minority on this one... I use paintovers for technique-building studies ocassionally, but that's about it. And those things eventually get thrown into the virtual trash can once it's served its purpose.

For artists who do paintovers and pass it off as something totally original...well, we don't have to look at their art, or we can encourage them to move away from that crutch if it's painfully obvious it's a paintover. Kind of depends on whether the artist is willing to take some critique/criticism, I suppose...

It's really their problem to work with if the artist isn't willing to put in the effort to learn the fundamentals, and lets their creativity be restricted to what's in the photo. I'm not going to let it bug me too much. And I guess that sums up my feelings on artists who lie about paintovers. :)

On the other hand, there are a few artists out there who make a living working in photomanipulations/painovers in combination - and some of it's pretty darn good! But they're using their own resources, usually. So I'm not saying it can't be a valid form of artistic expression or anything like that, it's just the others who have little to no respect for the copyrights that need an education :P
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 07:53 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I don't have a single problem with people who do those paint-overs with photos up and until they lie to someone trying to learn Photoshop and then sneer at them when they cannot reproduce the effects.

Being lied to when you are honestly looking for help really hurts, especially when you have taken the step of swallowing your pride in the first place so that you can ask for said help. I, for instance, am a very independant person and I have a bit of trouble sometimes asking for help because I feel like I am being a pest. And to have a person lie to me, as one once did in the story I told in one of my other comments, REALLY stings. It's almost as if the person who is doing the lying is saying, "You're never going to be as good as I am so why should I tell you anything!".

Ah well. Where is your Epi page? Or Elfwood? I was unable to find the link in your user info page. You have a really cute icon and I want to see your art!
Date:January 22nd, 2004 10:24 pm (UTC)
If they paint over their own photograph, it -is- completely original. What? You've never done a sketch and then transferred it to a canvas/paper/other to create the finished work?

And paintovers are not an indication of lack of skill as you're suggesting, and they are not inherently restrictive. You can add or remove anything you want over top of a photograph. You can have a paintover that looks very graphical in nature, with flat colors and shapes, or you can have something photorealistic, either from one set-up shot, or more usually with a combination of different elements from various photos.

Have you ever compared the difference in results between someone who has some artistic training and skill and someone who just traces because they don't know how to draw on their own? I've always found it really obvious when someone traces something and don't know what they're doing. In the hands of a skilled artist though, tracing techniques do nothing but save time. It doesn't mean they can't sit there and meticulously draw the subject freehand, or use the grid system to transfer a picture, it just means those are tedious, time-consuming methods that tend to really get in the way sometimes. And really, those techniques are better learning tools than painting over a photo. Yes, paintovers can be abused, or stuck to too rigidly, but that's due to a lack of skill on the part of the artist, or a lack of experience. It has nothing to do with the technique itself.
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 10:58 pm (UTC)
Even the pro's like Boris and Olivia use photos in a projection thingie and project them onto a canvas for the initial sketch. And yeah, you can tell when someone who knows bupkus about art tries to trace something. I have been known to print out photos and transfer the outline of the pose onto the canvas, althout I nearly always change the face to that of someone I like or some supernatural creature.

Yeah, I can spend three hours drawing the pose that looks damn near like it did in the photo. I am pretty confident of my sketching abilities. But let's face it, I stand a much greater chance of burnout if I don't take a few shortcuts. Someone recently told me about a contraption called a light box. As I have not had lessons, I had never heard of it before but I sure as hell wish I had. Might have saved me hours of brain melting work.

I am not trying to harp on you or anyone else here, Alcuishpa. I do appreciate your input because different opinions help me get this into perspective.

I still feel that lying to a newbie is wrong but I know there are plenty of people who disagree.
Date:January 23rd, 2004 12:22 am (UTC)
Heh, i didn't know what the hell a lighbox was for until probably my second year of high school art classes. When the teacher told us how to use it, i was like, "shit man, that's what i use the window for!" I still just use a window, actually...

I don't feel like you're harping on anybody, and even if you were, i wouldn't mind :) I hope you didn't feel like i was responding to you with that post previously. LJ has a weird system of classing these boards, so it came up looking like i was arguing against you when i was mainly speaking to muse_gnome. You didn't seem to be talking about paintovers so much as being lied to about it, and that's cool. It just really burns me when people act like a particular technique indicates a lack of skill.
Date:January 22nd, 2004 04:19 am (UTC)
I don't care if people lie about their techniques, personally. They obviously have a reason for it, whether it's because they feel inferior for using what some would call "cheats" (and the whole concept of "cheating" at art is a silly one to me), or because they feel possessive of their methods. I know a lot of younger artists will post pictures and say "don't steal my style!" or words to that effect, trying to keep themselves uncopied. Maybe some people never grow out of this mindset. It could also be that sometimes an artist doesn't feel like going over every single little thing they do, or else forget some things they've done. I know it's not uncommon for me to forget completely how i did a picture a week after finishing it. There may be malicious intent, but i think usually without some kind of reason, most people wouldn't lie to others to hurt them intentionally. The majority of people tell lies to protect themselves or others.

I don't think you're necessarily wrong to be upset about people lying, as long as they were lying to you or affecting you in some way. But i can't understand being upset about it. If there are such obvious ways to tell how someone did a painting, who cares if they lie to you? I could only see it mattering if you hadn't heard of the technique they used or something. And while it's nice to hear from artists you admire what methods they use when working, there are HUNDREDS of others out there that actually are giving away their techniques through tutorials and works in progress. It's not exactly like the internet is hurting for instructions on how to work in just about any method - certainly enough for anybody to get started toward developing their own techniques and tricks.

It doesn't seem productive or useful to argue with them about their techniques though. The fact is, unless you were sitting right there watching them paint for every second they were working, you can't know with absolute certainty whether they used a photo for reference, painted over it, created it from memory, or what. Some artists really are so good that they can paint realistically without tracing a photo. The only thing "calling them out" does is cause anger, bad feelings, and resentment, as well as smear the person's image in the eyes of people who view their technique as "cheating", even if they used their own photos. It seems to me the only ones who are "spiteful and lacking integrity" are the people who smear someone's image by "calling them out" publicly.

Now, if they're breaking copyright law, the correct thing to do is politely email them about it, and if no action is taken, to notify the person hosting their images of the violation and send proof. Making a big public fuss out of it is childish and unprofessional.

I don't know what tell-tale signs you're talking about finding in Photoshop to spot a photo paint-over, but if you mean that stuff about how the different parts pixelate differently, you need the original photoshop file or some other uncompressed, lossless file format to see that . A compressed jpg at web resolution will always have some artifacts and funky pixelation in it.
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 01:25 am (UTC)
I will answer this at length when I am not so brain dead but let me say that yeah, I have been lied to and hurt when I could not achieve a certain effect because I was intentionally misled.

So yeah, this is a bit personal to me.

And no, I have no intention of saying who misled me or naming people whom I know of that are currently lying to others.

Revealing their techniques is another story.

Keep in mind that I am not just talking about digital art here. I don't care what techniques a person uses. I don't consider it cheating to find a shortcut that saves a few hours and a lot of frustration.

It is, however, lacking in integrity and honour to lie about it to people who come to an artist sincerely wanting to learn..
Date:January 22nd, 2004 01:40 am (UTC)
“I don't think you're necessarily wrong to be upset about people lying, as long as they were lying to you or affecting you in some way. But i can't understand being upset about it. If there are such obvious ways to tell how someone did a painting, who cares if they lie to you? I could only see it mattering if you hadn't heard of the technique they used or something.”

I think this is the point she is trying to make. The people being misled(herself once included) did NOT and are not aware of these shortcuts. It’s those people who are not experienced enough with the mediums, that do get hurt by the more experienced people lying about their techniques. It’s one thing for a senior artist to refuse to discuss their techniques, leaving the less experienced artists to find their own way, but it IS wrong to lead the unknowledgeable off in a completely WRONG direction, just to cover up your own use of shortcuts.

If the inexperienced COULD tell the “obvious” shortcuts used then
1. they would not be THAT inexperienced
2. They would NOT be getting hurt. That isn’t the case.

You try wasting box after box of expensive color pencils, trying to perfect a smooth airbrushed look--without knowing an airbrush IS required. Wouldn’t it have helped if the more experienced artist you are using as an example hadn’t said “All my works are done entirely in color pencil”?

Speaking hypothetically here btw...and just trying to help sort out exactly WHAT is being complained about LOL.
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Date:January 22nd, 2004 09:17 am (UTC)
Actually, you hit pretty close to the mark, LilHole, when you talked about the frustration of going through boxes of coloured pencils in vain. I have gotten better at coloured pencils AFTER I discovered that the brand you use makes a huge difference. I use almost exclusively Prismacolor. The reason being is that they are moist and waxy and you can get effects out of them that you cannot get out of the drier kinds.

True story:

About five years ago, I asked a a certain person whom I am acquainted with how she achieved with coloured pencils that effect that nearly resembles an oil painting and said it did not matter what kind of coloured pencil one uses. She said it was nothing more than layering and that she used those Crayola pencils that you get at Walmart.

So... guess what I did....

After ruining several pictures, tearing the paper in places, with these very hard, dry pencils in the attempt to get that oily effect that she often used, I threw the pencils in the trash and vowed to NEVER touch coloured pencils again. In fact, I didn't even draw anything for 3 months because I felt like such a miserable failure.

Well, a few months later I was talking to someone who was a mutual friend of mine and this artist. He asked why I always did everything in black and grey. I told him how badly I sucked with coloured pencils and he sat me down and gave me a demo with his Prismacolours. It turned out that the effect that the other artist was achieving was done by building up several layers of very waxy Prismacolour pencil and going over them with a clear blending pencil or a clear magic marker. When I saw how simple it was, I danced with joy and then immediately started fuming at that bitch who had lied to me. I told him about what had happened and he said that he had been in art classes with her and knew for a fact that she only used Prismacolors and she had misled other people as well. I lost all respect for her that day. Not because she took a shortcut with a clear blender but because she lied to me and nearly caused me to give up art.

So if I have a personal crusade against liars, maybe now some of you will understand why.

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