Picture Guidelines

Guidelines on Pictures

We all like finding and using pictures for our characters. Although many of us would no doubt love to draw our own characters with all the imagination and detail we can, most of us are not artists, and so resort to looking for pictures online. This is fine- however, a lot of art on the internet is made by artists who typically aren’t given the credit or remuneration they deserve. I want to avoid my games contributing to the problem of art theft on the internet. Artists work hard for their skills, and deserve to be respected and given credit for their excellent works. Because of this, I strongly encourage players to adhere to the following guidelines to ensure that the pictures we use are done in an ethical, healthy way that we can all feel good about.

Best Practices

These are the ideal practices that offer no or very little ambiguity.

  • Creating your own art. This is a great idea if you have the skills and drive, although most people don’t. For the record, I, as your Gamemaster, will never lay claim to any of your art created for one of my games. If you create art of your character that you made for my game, as far as I’m concerned that art is yours and yours alone.
  • Commissioning art. The next best thing to making it yourself, if you have the money to do it. Not a lot of folks do, and that’s fine. If you are interested in having art commissioned, then there’s often artists who work for reasonable rates. Note that attribution should still be provided.
  • Similarly, using licensed art that you have the right to use, because you paid for it or the like. As above, provide attribution.
  • Using open source/creative commons/public domain art. This is art that the commons (ie. The public) are permitted to re-use and, depending on the license, edit. You should definitely provide attribution here.

Note that attribution styles depend on the license you’re using. Since most of you will likely use creative commons licenses, pay attention to the specific type of licenses used. You will want to record, if possible, the title of the art, the author, the source (ie. Where to find it) and the license under which you use it.
Best Practices for Attribution
Furthermore, when you find a good resource with a CC or public domain license, don’t keep it to yourself! Share it with others. Send it to me so I can post it up on this page. A lot of folks end up discouraged from using creative commons because they don’t know where to find decent resources for it.
Finally: if you find a work of art and cannot tell what license it is under, assume it is not free to share.

Discouraged Practices

This lists practices that are discouraged and ways to make them more ethical.

  • Using sites such as DeviantArt, ArtStation, Pixiv or the various Boorus (Safebooru, Danbooru etc). Although using these resources is a good way to find a look for a character, much of the art on DeviantArt and ArtStation is not creative commons. Furthermore, the Boorus are often quite poor at providing proper attribution or even sourcing it.
    • That isn’t to say that you can’t use art sites like DeviantArt. Just know that on DeviantArt, Pixiv and ArtStation, the art is assumed not free to share unless the author attaches an explicit CC license to the artwork. If you like, you can provide a link to their artwork in your character sheet, with a title, author, source and license, but do not actually replicate the artwork on your sheet- you’re providing a link and sharing the work, letting the artist get hits on their site.
    • If you do end up using a Booru site, do your utmost to find the original artist of the work. If Booru doesn’t link to it, then it’s up to you to find the artist. Google Image Search allows you to put images or image URLs into it, bringing you all instances of that picture it can find. This is a good way to find the artist. If you do find the artist, and their work is CC, then great, follow the usual rules. If their work is not CC, then follow the same procedure as above- provide a link to the work, but don’t replicate the artwork itself.

Bonus Round: Supporting Artists

The best thing we roleplaying gamers can do is to support artists, so they can keep creating art. Essentially, the guidelines on this page were designed to encourage and help us do exactly that, but there are other ways of supporting artists as well.

  • Sharing the artwork on social media with attribution: many artists use social media to expand their profiles and market, and so sharing their art is an easy, free method of supporting them.
  • Commission work: again, most people won’t be able to just sink money into a commission off the bat, but it’s good if you can. Commission work not only gives artists money, it also improves their profile and you get nice pictures out of it.
  • Patreon and similar services: a lot of artists nowadays use patreon. Patreon allows you to pay a certain amount of money to an individual per period (usually a week or month). Artists like patreon (or similar services) because it provides them with a reliable income and can even let them go professional. Artists typically release art to their patrons exclusively, too. Even if it’s as little as a dollar or five dollars a month.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License