Watermarks and your art

polycounter lvl 13
Offline / Send Message
Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 13
I wrote this another piece for my blog. It seemed pretty straight forward. But I thought with all the people that come here when they are starting out it might not hurt to post this here. Again love to hear what you all think.

Watermarks should be on every image you make. The main reason being is that Art Directors, other Artists, and HR Managers will look at your work and often save images for reference or review at a later date. If your images are not named with your name in the filename (ex: yourname_building_01.) then they will have no idea who made the piece. The name of the file is also easily changeable so that cannot always be relied on. If something catches the eye of a person in a position to hire you everything should be done to make sure they know who made it and how to contact you.

Your watermark placement should not be obtrusive and take away from your piece. It is annoying to look at those watermarks as well. Now what if you’re showing flat textures off? I do not think you need an obtrusive watermark on those either. If a company really wants to steal your texture then they’ll find a way to do it. It’s probably not wise to put up a texture pack of 40 textures with no watermark unless you have the intention of people using those in their work. Maybe 10 years ago that would have been more of a concern than it is today.

watermark_bad.jpg

The actual watermark should also not be your initials, picture, logo, or dog’s picture. Make sure to keep it simple, straight to the point and legible. Many of us lose sight of this because we treat our portfolio as a brand. There is nothing wrong with that approach. Aside from large fortune 500 companies logo recognition is difficult for companies and corporations let alone a singular Artist. Focusing on that takes away from time you could be spending making art.

So what kind of watermark should you have? Short answer is it should be your contact information (website, email, probably not your phone number or address though) at the top or bottom of your art sample. Put some way for someone to find who you are and how to contact you. Personally since my website and email address share the same URL (environmentartist.com) I just use my email. Now if your email is drinkingbeersmakingart@generichosting.com then probably that should not be in your watermark. You’ll want to have your website name and maybe your email in your watermark (though get a more professional email address).

watermark_good.jpg

Previously I did not watermark my work my blog sketches, speed sculpts, and doodles. I watermarked work samples on my main portfolio site but not on my blog. My thinking on that was no one would actually want to save something from my blog. It was just my art ramblings. Keep things consistent and make sure that anything (even art doodles on a blog) can be traced back to you is smart. My current watermark is just a colored box with my email in it. That might change in the future, but for now it is not obtrusive and allows someone to contact me if they want.

With that all said if you’re watermarking your work you need to make sure it’s something you want traced back to you. Your artwork will always get better then more you create art. So even older art is fine to have a watermark. You just might want to cycle the older work off your main site at a certain point.

Please post any comments or recommendations for watermarks below.

Replies

  • Ace-Angel
    Offline / Send Message
    Ace-Angel polycounter lvl 6
    I put my watermarks in my textures, as well faintly 'behind' the image.

    A simply adjustment of the levels in PS will pop them right out again.

    The banner based Watermark is good for quick access and such, plus interest if people want to seek you out, but sites like DA where many peeps rip left and right, a little hide and seek works wonders.
  • Jeff Parrott
    Offline / Send Message
    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 13
    Yeah I suppose you have a good point. I haven't dealt with DA or my art getting ripped much so it's not a huge deal. I'm thinking more so when Artists and people save images to a folder they know who the heck made it in case they want to contact you. It's so confusing looking at art work and trying to figure out who made the work. Probably if you're super paranoid a faint watermark and a banner or just text would do the trick.
  • leilei
    Offline / Send Message
    leilei polycounter lvl 9
    An over-plastered watermark isn't going to stop a serious art thief. It's not like there's no tools available to possibly 'heal' off the watermark for the determined criminals out there.

    What matters in the end is the ability to produce art on the spot as directed and present it - a thief can't do that.


    Besides, I think more clever watermarks like a signature in the alpha channel or in a hidden area on a certain color channel would be better or maybe even some bone names as a big "FUCK YOU" to XNALara and Gmod porting assholes.
  • glynnsmith
    Offline / Send Message
    glynnsmith polycounter lvl 11
    It's a common sense issue.

    You only post your images online to show them either for WIP help, or for showing off.

    There is no point in putting a layer of repeated text on top of the image you're trying to show. Likewise, putting your name, your URL and a point of contact is prudent to getting noticed and hired, or noticed by the community.

    As for art thieves, the response from this art community in the past has been enough to make the fuckers take their website down, take the images down, etc, and it's a big enough community that the people that'll potentially hire them based off've someone else's work will have probably come through here at some point, for any number of reasons.

    There was that one guy who'd stolen art that I can remember. After PC was through with him, googling his name took you to the forum thread that reported his art stealing. Most HR will google your name before offering you a position.
  • Jeff Parrott
    Offline / Send Message
    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 13
    You're right Leilei. People are clever at stealing. Some would probably spend more time and effort stealing then it would take to make it.

    I totally agree its common sense Glynn. But I can't tell you how many people I see not doing it. I wrote it more for beginners.

    I like the approach of just not caring about an overlay and letting the community deal with them. Seems like a sound approach.
  • metalliandy
    Offline / Send Message
    metalliandy greentooth
    Nice post Jeffro :)

    I just stick my email address in the bottom right of the image in question.

    Baseball_Bat_WIP_9a_ZBrush_Grey.jpg

    I don't know about anyone else, but I find it pretty offensive when someone plasters a watermark all over an image... I want to see the details of the art, not a semitransparent name everywhere :P

    I kind of see this like personal DRM, to a certain degree. It's right to secure your art, but if people are going to steal your stuff, they will do it anyway and is it really worth inconveniencing the people who your art is targeted toward? (HR peeps, Art leads and your peers).
    People have to ask themselves if that super offensive watermark is worth not getting a job because the people that are hiring cant see your stuff or are put off by it.
    I think it makes people look kinda paranoid too :P

    The community is tight knit enough to shout a heads up, if they recognise some art that doesn't belong to the person posting it, so there really is little reason to over watermark images, imho :)
  • McGreed
    Offline / Send Message
    McGreed Polycount Sponsor
    I have had times where I marked with overlayer, with text in the bottom, top, ect. Next I think I'm gonna modelling my head and put it into every scene like a "Find Waldo" kinda of watermark. ;)
  • Nitewalkr
    Offline / Send Message
    Nitewalkr polycounter lvl 7
    Art director / project manager / HR personnel saving your image with your CV to review it later can end up as, they would likely ask you for image if it was watermarked as weird as the ones you stress upon in this thread. (If the stuff behind watermarked layer is legit enough and appealing to them that is.)

    Dont you guys go to the interviews with your portfolio (As in, hard Collector's album containing copies of your works' (Non-watermarked)SS and (Non-watermarked)2d art and/or a USB and a laptop to show and talk a bit about your self constructed projects, your methods and set of skills) with a copy of CV and cover latter regardless?

    If so, why bother worrying about watermark so much. =\
  • gsokol
    Offline / Send Message
    gsokol Polycount Sponsor
    Yea..this is something I started to do..and need to continue to do. I just do my name and email like this:

    http://www.georgesokol.com/images/jet_image1.jpg

    Maybe I should use my website name as well..

    Althought I feel like a dbag posting pictures on here with my name displayed on it.

    Can't say I'm all that worried about thieves...even if my work was stolen..it would piss me off, but I can prove its my work with the 100's of megabyes of unflatted texture .psds and all my WIP files..which I tend to have several incremental saves of..

    Really...its just for exposure..and the hope that...if somebody came across the image anywhere other than my website..they might concact me and give me a jerb.
    Dont you guys go to the interviews with your portfolio (As in, hard Collector's album containing copies of your works' (Non-watermarked)SS and (Non-watermarked)2d art and/or a USB and a laptop to show and talk a bit about your self constructed projects, your methods and set of skills) with a copy of CV and cover latter regardless?

    If so, why bother worrying about watermark so much. =\

    Its not to prove its mine during an interview...its to get my name associated with cool shit so I can get an interview.
  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 6
    Nice entry Jeff! I agree that the purpose of the watermark should just be for contact reasons, and not as a protection against theft. Those people aren't gonna get the job anyway, and this industry seems tiny - it could only backfire on them! I think the most I would feel if someone stole my stuff is flattered :P ahaha
  • Mefix
  • Jeff Parrott
    Offline / Send Message
    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 13
    @metalliandy NIce! Yeah it does act a bit as DRM.

    @McGreed I do the hidden name in my personal texture work or as a sign or something in a scene. It's more fun that way. Have to watch that stuff professionally though.

    @Nitewalkr Your stuff doesn't always get saved with your resume/CV though. My resume/CV is only available on request. I don't keep that up on my site. Also that stuff can get mixed up or misplaced. So why not take an extra step since it doesn't take long to make sure people know who made the art?

    @gsokol What you're using is nice! It's way fancier than mine. Mine feels kinda lame now. You're right it helps with exposure so you can get the interview. Not to stop from people taking the work.

    @Jessica Dinh Thanks Jessica! Totally right about not preventing theft. Look at all the DRM that software companies put in place. You can even get around DRM on a OS these days.

    @Mefix Nice find! I'm gonna put that at the bottom of the piece if you don't mind. That is perfect. I could have just linked to that instead. :D
  • Stradigos
    What about going into the corner of your image and changing the pixel values by a few values for your initials or something? It's pretty easy to point out if you zoom in. Sure, they can paint over it all the easier, but if they don't catch it, it would be fun to call them out.

    I like the watermark "behind" the object idea. Just not a huge one. And very subtle. You could also use trademark geo or textures on your models. Not trademark in the legal sense, but if Polycount were a person, having a running theme of your special sauce (being the PC logo) would be obvious if someone trade to pass it off as their own. I guess my point is, if you have a well established style, it's pretty easy to call BS.

    I don't know, just brainstorming.
  • Autocon
    Offline / Send Message
    Autocon polycounter lvl 9
    I watermark when a company/studio tells me to watermark and image. That is what I had to do with my Halo Reach stuff. Personal stuff I dont watermark.
  • Pedro Amorim
    I just put my URL because sometimes i save images from websites, and later on I have no idea from where i saved the images.

    having the url makes me remember the website from where i saved it. so i can go and see if there is new art there.
  • Ace-Angel
    Offline / Send Message
    Ace-Angel polycounter lvl 6
    You guys are giving rip-con-artists too much credit. Most of them will not bother painting out the subtle background watermark, as they will think it parts of the background (especially if you put in signature style, all curvy and such).

    I do like the Stradigo's idea of pixels in the corner. The only issue is, many of them simply crop the image to cut out any banners or such, so doing the couple of pixels change (for example, a small triforce) on your characters eye, or on the window, could work wonders.

    Thankfully, with Googles and TinyEye's image search functions, easy art-rip is a thing of the past now, and more people simply put up and image and call themselves a fan as opposed "I did this, me and my team, we spend 10K hours, blargh".

    Now 3D model ripping...that is a whole other story. I wish companies and artist alike would put a simple watermak on those.
  • Jeff Parrott
    Offline / Send Message
    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 13
    I'm with you Pedro. I do the same and I feel really bad when I have no idea who made the work I'm looking at.
  • Stradigos
    The only issue is, many of them simply crop the image to cut out any banners or such, so doing the couple of pixels change (for example, a small triforce) on your characters eye, or on the window, could work wonders.

    I like it. Has a DaVinci Code kind of feel to it :D
  • Justin Meisse
    Offline / Send Message
    Justin Meisse polycounter lvl 13
    Obtrusive water marks have the same effect on me as EULAs on emails - I subconsciously downgrade my opinion of the person.

    As far as coming in with a hard copy & laptop - I did in the past and never ended up using them, I just give a narrated tour of my portfolio website.

    I also have some print experience so I can't stand printing out low rez material
  • Snader
    Offline / Send Message
    Snader polycounter lvl 9
    No to watermarks.

    Yes to contact info.
  • Jeff Parrott
    Offline / Send Message
    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 13
    Yeah that's a better name. I think it gets a bit confusing when it's all called watermarks. Contactmarks maybe?
  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 6
    I think the most I would feel if someone stole my stuff is flattered

    Err, I take this back. Someone just decided to take my stuff and apply for a job with it. Which, although somewhat flattering, also kindof pissed me off lol -_-
  • claydough
    Offline / Send Message
    claydough polycounter lvl 9
    Err, I take this back. Someone just decided to take my stuff and apply for a job with it. Which, although somewhat flattering, also kindof pissed me off lol -_-

    Back in the early 80's when I was attending M.I.C.A my whole semesters worth of drawings were stolen right before finals/portfolio review. Thankfully my drawing teacher that year ( Karnes is still @MICA ) was very supportive of my work and Ace'd me on memory alone... However this is a decade before I did any Digital Graphic work ( not only did someone ace a grade off my work but all that hardcopy work was lost forever! )
    I don't understand how someone that slimey can live with themselves. I would rather slit my own throat than live a talent lie.
    I can only imagine these guys throw up when looking at themselves in the mirror.
  • Jeff Parrott
    Offline / Send Message
    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 13
    Jeez Jessica that sucks. Sorry to hear. Hopefully they get brought in for an interview and get flogged or something. I doubt they'd get past the art test phase with any place with a stolen portfolio. One thing for companies to start asking for would be work in progress breakdowns on a particular project to show that you made it and know what you're talking about.
  • Joseph Silverman
    Offline / Send Message
    Joseph Silverman polycounter lvl 11
    If i ever put up a portfolio, i'll byline my images so people know where to find me, but never watermark. If someone wants to steal my art they can have it -- I dont care what happens to it after I finish it. I make art, I don't curate a museum.
  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 6
    claydough - That is a bad story, since all of the stolen work was hardcopy :( Good thing your teacher was so understanding!

    jeffro - Haha, yeah, breakdowns would be a good thing to ask for. I know he didn't get to the interview phase, because the company found me before then, and informed me of what had happened. They just entered my image into a google search and it came up with one of my Polycount threads haha

    SupRore, yeah, I don't plan to change anything about the way I label my images. I guess these kinds of things just happen sometimes, but it's still so shocking to me. I couldn't live with myself stealing someone's work!
  • Joseph Silverman
    Offline / Send Message
    Joseph Silverman polycounter lvl 11
    Jessica, yeah, i feel you. I couldn't even live with myself using my OWN work to apply for a job, I feel unqualified as it is, and at least I make my own art. :p

    I wonder how someone who pulls that shit expects their first day on the job to go.
  • Saman
    Offline / Send Message
    Saman polycounter lvl 7
    Sorry to hear about these theft stories. I guess the reason someone would steal would be because many people want these art jobs but don't have the knowledge/talent needed for it. They probably think that they can learn on the job and that these portfolios merely are a necessity to get a foot in the door. Lying on the interview has been happening for a long time, stealing portfolios is probably just a step further.
  • Rick Stirling
    Err, I take this back. Someone just decided to take my stuff and apply for a job with it. Which, although somewhat flattering, also kindof pissed me off lol -_-



    Did they get the job?
  • Ace-Angel
    Offline / Send Message
    Ace-Angel polycounter lvl 6
    claydough - That is a bad story, since all of the stolen work was hardcopy :( Good thing your teacher was so understanding!

    jeffro - Haha, yeah, breakdowns would be a good thing to ask for. I know he didn't get to the interview phase, because the company found me before then, and informed me of what had happened. They just entered my image into a google search and it came up with one of my Polycount threads haha

    SupRore, yeah, I don't plan to change anything about the way I label my images. I guess these kinds of things just happen sometimes, but it's still so shocking to me. I couldn't live with myself stealing someone's work!
    Jeez, here is something to cheer you up:
    [ame=" mom hugs baby kitten - YouTube[/ame]
  • Jessica Dinh
    Offline / Send Message
    Jessica Dinh polycounter lvl 6
    hahahhahaha that is the cutest thing ever xD

    Rick - No, they didn't.
  • r_fletch_r
    Offline / Send Message
    r_fletch_r polycounter lvl 7
    SupRore wrote: »
    Jessica, yeah, i feel you. I couldn't even live with myself using my OWN work to apply for a job, I feel unqualified as it is, and at least I make my own art. :p

    I wonder how someone who pulls that shit expects their first day on the job to go.

    At a local college here in Dublin someone stole a load of art from the walls a the open day. Come applications time they applied with said pieces in their portfolio. I think some folks are too stupid to feel guilt let alone do the job.

    Jessica: Your stuffs rather nice, I wouldn't be downing on it at all.
Sign In or Register to comment.