Monday, March 30, 2015

The Illustrator’s Reprehensible Dictionary: The Letter C Addendum

© 2015 Don Arday
In celebration of more than 110,000 pageviews, The Informed Illustrator presents the Addendum to letter ‘C’ of The Illustrator’s Reprehensible Dictionary. Actually, the addendum addresses several important word definitions that were omitted from the dictionary due to impatience on the part of the author to publish the third letter of the illustrator's alphabet.


1. a radioactive substance in artist paints that makes colors and artists glow;
2. the most expensive kind of color that can be purchased by an artist;
3. the abbreviated form of om mani padme hum.

Illustrator A: “Cadmium colors are so bright, when I use them I have to paint with sunglasses on.” Illustrator B: “Isn’t that a bit hard to do while you are wearing a hasmat suit?”
Artist: “I just bought the last tube of cadmium red on earth.” Rep: “Great, I’ll bet you have something special in mind for it.” Artist: “Yep, I’m going to use it to kill the aphids on my roses.”
Usage: “I really miss the good old days when an artist could paint with cadmium colors; use fixatives, varnishes and lacquers; add driers and retardants; and wash up with mineral spirits, thinner, and turpentine.


1. why there are so many graphic designers who have become illustrators (see computer below);
2. a tool illustrators should be familiar with to help them gather reference, compose scenes, and take selfies;
3. a device synonymous with mobile phones;

Usage: “The camera never lies, but illustrators do…all the time. That’s what makes them so useful.”
Usage: “When you don’t have the time to create a suitable work of art, use a camera.”

Carbon Dust

1. all that is left after an illustration has been printed in black and white;
2. a substance that makes a mess on the surface of a scanner;
3. a substitute for charcoal dust, which is made out of carbon;

Artist: “Carbon dust is a most appropriate media. The piece I used to render that hunk of cheese came from the moon.” Patron: “You are a master of conceptual art!” Artist: “Next I intend to render a bottle of milk with casein.” Patron: “Brilliant.” Artist: “And after that, I’m going to paint a glass of water with watercolor.” Patron: “How original.”
Usage: “I had to replace my carpet when a carbon dust drawing I had done fell face down on it.”

Cattle Marker

1. a China marker (see China Marker below) made exclusively for Texans;
2. a big, cheap, messy way to create quite a lasting impression;
3. a media, as yet undiscovered, by Soho artists;
3. an indelible, greasy crayon not recommended for use by most rodeo clowns.

Usage: “Use a white cattle marker for a Black Angus, a black one for a Blanco Orejinegro, a green one for a Belmont Red, and a purple one for a Hereford.”


1. a chalky substance;
2. the one art supply that can be purchased at Walmart and Target;
3. an unwieldy drawing material that is a first choice media of supermarket and restaurant artists;
4. the same as pastels, but available in fatter sticks.

Usage: “I prefer chalk over charcoal because it comes in white.”
Usage: “One piece of chalk lasts a long time. The drawing it makes doesn’t last any time at all.”

China Marker

1. a grease pencil that is not made in China, nor is it a marker;
2. a drawing media that can draw on any solid substance known to man;
3. the preferred writing implement of antique dealers;
4. an emaciated, anorexic cattle marker (see Cattle Marker above).

Usage: “The China marker is the blackest substance known to man. That’s why the US Government uses them to censor presidential documents.”


1. an illustrated series of events presented in a wacky sequence;
2. a place where sounds like umpf, zing, boff, and bam are written out as words;
3. a very low budget animation;
4. a person who stands up and acts illustrated;

Artist: “I have a new idea for a comic book.” Publisher: “What is it?” Artist: “It’s the story of a rich widow with four kids who marries a has-been athlete. Between them they have two more kids, even though he already has two kids of his own, but his kids won’t be seen in the comic. Even though they are in it per se. Publisher: “Why even mention them if his two kids won’t be in the comic?” Artist: “They are important because they will be very strategically omitted in certain portions of the storyline.” Publisher: “So you will make mention of them, or perhaps they will be drawn as shadows?” Artist: “Not a chance.” Publisher: “Then the comic is a mystery story.” Artist: “No, it’s a reality show.”
Usage: “I tell you this comic is animated. You just have to move your eyes quicker to see it.”


1. something digital artists try not to think about;
2. why there are so many graphic designers who have become illustrators (see camera above);
3. a machine used to remember things when we can’t;
4. something that allows one to create an illustration and undo it;
5. a appliance that helps us get more things done, although all of those things pertain to operating a computer;
6. a thing you have to keep your eyes on at all times;
7. a device we talk to more than our cell phone or significant other;
8. something that is only as useful and talented as you are;
9. a contraption that doesn’t always take orders or understand English;
10. an apparatus with a shorter lifespan than that of a gerbil;
11. a thing we use everyday without having the vaguest idea of how it works.

Programmer: “I was just hired to develop a set of interactive brushes that will create things for artists.” Illustrator: “I’m not sure I’d be interested in them. How is that even possible?” Programmer: “Well, first an artist fills out a personality profile of themself, completes a psychological questionnaire, and answers some questions on their familiarity with a computer. Then that get’s combined with some historical information and a sampling of their work.” Illustrator: “Okay, then what?” Programmer: “Then, if everything checks out, the artist will never have to create anything again, Disney hires then.”
Usage: “The computer ate my homework.”


1. a non-toxic art material that’s only slightly non-toxic, unless it’s made out of bee’s wax, in which case, it’s not only non-toxic, but sweet tasting like candy;
2. an art media with thousands of uses besides drawing, such as removing grease, lubricating zippers, improving the effectiveness of dental floss, removing hair on legs, exfoliating skin, preserving cheese, and sealing cork on wine bottles, to name a few.

Usage: “To remove the squeak in a door, just rub crayon on the hinges.”
Usage: “Crayon is an unacceptable media for professional illustration. The deadlines are too hot.”


1. an event where students sit in silence and stare at each others work;
2. an evaluation where an artist gets told everything he or she already knows is wrong with their work;
3. an examination few actually pass;
4. a state where reality is temporarily suspended;
5. the art of criticism of art;
6 actions inducing a form of anxiety that leads to post traumatic stress disorder in artists;
7. a manner of speech where one’s foot is in one’s mouth.

Professor: “This is your opportunity to say something about your work.” Student: “Boy, I didn’t see that coming.” Professor: “So, what can you tell us about this piece.” Student: “Uh…n.o.t.h.i.n.g.” Professor: “Well that’s not much to go on. Wasn’t there a reason you produced the work?” Student: “I don’ know, I just did it.” Professor: “You certainly did.” Professor: “Well, think about it this way. If your mother asked you about the work, what would you tell her?” Student: “Even less.”
Usage: “It didn’t happen. Jim, Carl, Bert, and Alice are ill; Reed, Dave, and Beth missed their bus; Jill, Steve, and Ron overslept; Arnold is stranded at an airport; and Kim, Chrissie, Matt, and Javier thought the critique was next week.”


1. a particularly vicious form of criticism;
2. a technique for leaving unwanted, disturbing, ugly, useless, or even shameless things out of a picture;
3. a method of salvaging a predominantly bad composition;
4. an attempt to control an out of control situation.
5. a form of censorship.

Director: “I don’t want the heroine, or any of the other characters visible in this scene, and cropping to get rid of them is not an option.” Artist: “So by the fact that they aren’t to be ‘visible’ in the scene, does that make them ‘invisible’ like Finblat the grey ‘invisible’ dwarf?” Director: “You know if this questioning keeps up, I’m going to have to find another artist with more experience than you have with not rendering things.” Artist: “No need to do that, I have an assistant who can do the job, and you’ll love this…she’s invisible.”
Usage: “A good cropping of a barnyard scene can eliminate a horse’s ass.” Attrib. Confucius


1. a color that is not quite blue and not quite green, but looks as though it could be a bit more blue than it might be green, or sort of a teal, maybe somewhat of an aqua, perhaps leaning toward turquoise, and a bit less of an azure;
2. the coolest member of the 4 process colors;
3. the most prominent color in Kate Spade’s new spring collection;
4. a color that is available as printer’s ink or house paint, but not as acrylic or oil paint.

Usage: “The sky may appear as any of a countless shades of blue or reds, violets, and yellows, but never, ever as cyan. This is God’s will.”
Usage: “If that face had any more of a cyan cast, it would belong to a corpse.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Illustrator’s Reprehensible Dictionary: The Letter C

© 2015 Don Arday.
To celebration more than 100,000 pageviews, The Informed Illustrator presents the letter ‘C’ of The Illustrator’s Reprehensible Dictionary. The dictionary was conceived to answer a desperate need for the language of illustration to be defined. Additional installments will appear at irregular intervals over an interminably long period of time. This installment was procrastinated on for over a year.


1. letterforms that have to be drawn rather than selected;
2. something only one in every 22,583 graphic designers knows how to do;
3. a fancy word for the lost art of handwriting.

Usage: “The reason your calligraphy looks so stiff is you are using too much wrist and not enough elbow.”


1. a closely woven cloth used as a support for painted illustrations so they can be worn by the illustrator;
2. a useful material for unsuccessful fine artists in need of shelter;
3. a prime subject that’s a bit of a stretch for most illustrators;
4. a term describing the actions of an illustrator making cold calls in search of a commission.

Client: “Do you mind if I ask why you chose to illustrate this assignment on a 6 foot x 9 foot canvas?” Illustrator: “So I didn’t have to use small brushes to paint the scene.” Client: “That makes sense.” Illustrator: “And, when the image is reduced it won’t show any canvas texture.” Client: “Oh, I get it. How do you intend on reducing it?” Illustrator: “I’ll have it digitally photographed, then I’ll convert it into a Photoshop file. After that I can fix the color, touch up sections that need it, edit the composition, and add all the characters and objects.”
Professor: “Class, in Senior Advanced Painting we will be working exclusively on canvas.” Student A: “What’s that?” Student B: “Where can we get some?” Student C: “Try JoAnn Fabrics or Hobby Lobby.”
Usage: “Paint the illustration on canvas, digitally photograph it, then find a service bureau that can print it out for you on canvas.”


1. what most realistic portraits turn out to be;
2. a figurative interpretation by an illustrator that displays a juvenile sense of humor, a sadistic tendency, an irrational state of mind, or a lack of drawing ability;
3. a visual “the jokes on you”;
4. art that exaggerates the defects and peculiarities of a person while simultaneously displaying the defects and peculiarities of the artist creating it.
Usage: “Well if you want that face to be a caricature you’ll have to either stretch it vertically or expand it horizontally; make the eyes bigger or make them smaller; render the nose pointier or make it bulbous, thin out the lips or puff them up, add more forehead or take some away, expand the chin or shrink it up, but the ears off limits, unless you are doing Ross Perot, Lyndon Johnson, Yoda, or Mike Tyson.”
Usage: “That caricature of Elen Degeneres looks exactly like Judy Dench.”


1. a drawing that is meant to be funny, as opposed to a caricature, which is usually quite sad (see above);
2. a nonsensical illustrated story with some sort of furry animal in it;
3. a representation more real than reality… really;
4. something an illustrator never wants their illustration to be called.

Usage: “When it comes to the cartoon, Thomas Nast was good, but the greatest cartoonist of all time was Picasso.”
Usage: “The age of the cartoon has past. We are now in the age of the animated film.”

Cast Shadow

1. a three-dimensional phenomenon that makes no sense on a two dimensional surface;
2. a moody client;
3. a comic book hero no one has ever seen.

Usage: “In order for you to have a cast shadow in that illustration there needs to be something there to cast it.”
Usage: “Although you've illustrated a tall slender man, that cast shadow belongs to a dwarf.”


1. a word that breaks the “i before e except after c” rule;
2. an art medium no artist knows anything about;
3. 18th century gesso.

Usage: “Just because casein is made of from cow’s milk doesn’t mean you can drink it, I’d stick to swilling watercolor.”


1. a drawing medium that leaves more pigment on the artist than on his or her art;
2. a substance that can be used either for creating art or for burning it;
3. something that leaves a filthy mess on a scanner.

Client: “I wasn’t expecting the illustration to be completed with charcoal.” Illustrator: “I often use charcoal when I’m depressed.” Client: “That’s the problem, those doves look like ravens. I’m afraid I can't approve the illustration.” Illustrator: “Poe would have.”
Usage: “Even though it’s called vine charcoal that doesn’t mean you can only draw plants with it.”
Usage: “If any student is using charcoal to draw the figure, everyone must wear a respirator, even the model.”


1. a cool art term that one learns in art school;
2. a drawing technique used mostly to create shadows;
3. a brand of clothing worn by reps and hipsters.

Usage: “I admire you, your lifestyle is so chiaroscuro.”
Usage: “I think those eggs you are cooking need a bit more chiaroscuro on them.”


1. the shinny trim on an art rep’s Jaguar;
2. a term used to describe color that draws a blank stare from an artist;
3. a measure of intensity used to describe the degree of anger in a clients face.

Illustrator A: “You know, I was talking to that dolt, Illustrator C, about the chroma in the color palette he uses, and he thought I was referring to the intensity of the colors.” Illustrator B: “Well weren’t you?” Illustrator A: “Hell no, I was talking about his stainless steel palette, what a dunce.”
Usage: “The best way of standing up for yourself with your clients is to show more chroma.”


1. what happens to watery paint when it is applied to a vertical surface;
2. a popular form of photo bombing in the 1980’s known as streaking;
3. another form of booing or casting insults.

Usage: “Oh yes, it’s a well known fact that. You couldn’t be called an illustrator in the 1960’s if your work didn’t have any cissing.”


1. any illustration with a heart or a star in it;
2. a spot illustration in USA Today;
3. the first suggestion a client has on an assignment.

Usage: “He has used the same composition so many times that he has rights to his own cliché.”


1. a blessing and a curse;
2. a person or persons who hire an illustrator to do an illustration, but don’t trust that they can do it;
3. a class of people who believe themselves above other classes of people.

Usage: “My latest client is my kind of client, she won’t meet with me, speak with me by phone, communicate with me through email, or even acknowledge my existence. She has an assistant.”

Cold Pressed

1. an attitude displayed by certain illustration professors;
2. a method of distilling truly excellent, illustration inspiring, grain spirits;
3. the type of illustration board used mainly by illustrators located in northern climates;
4. for a client to have forced an illustrator to make changes to a finished illustration.

Usage: “Wow, that board is so cold pressed it’s got a toothache.”
Usage: “The grain on a good cold pressed surface can separate the bristles from a brush.”


1. when a client hires a marketing firm that hires an advertising agency that hires a design studio that hires an illustrator;
2. the result of a heavy handed client interfering with an illustration concept;
3. a work of art resulting from an inability on the part of the artist to make up his or her mind;
4. art composed of elements not created by the artist creating the art.

Usage: “There are a lot of illiterate would be illustrators out there who think there is no reason to attend a collage.”


1. a scheme that can get one into a world of trouble;
2. an element in an illustration that has the potential to make it interesting;
3. something when applied digitally that never quite turns out right;
4. a facial characteristic of an enraged client.

Client: “I want you to use Pantone’s color of the year in the illustration.” Illustrator: “You mean this years color?” Client: “No, I want the one they’ll choose for next year, otherwise the illustration will be so last year.”
Usage: “I see you have the ability to imagine a world without color.”


1. a roundabout way of making money;
2. a carrot at the end of a stick to a donkey;
3. a group of non-artists who pass judgment on artists;
4. a procedure a client uses to torture an illustrator.

Art Director: “I have a commission for you.” Illustrator: “A nice budget?” Art Director: “Well actually it’s more of a proposition.” Illustrator: “A comfortable timeframe?” Art Director: “As I think about it, I would say it’s really a proposal.” Illustrator: “It’s high profile right?” Art Director: “Let’s say it’s an opportunity.” Illustrator: “Lots of creative freedom?” Art Director: “It would be a favor.” Illustrator: “It’s a freebie, right?” Art Director: “Well why would you think it would be anything else?”
Usage: “Congratulations, you were awarded the commission. As I see it, you have the commission, but you’ll never get the award.”


1. the state of two artists in discussion about each others work;
2. the rare instance when a client and an illustrator happen to have the same points of view;
3. a type of verbiage used by students in class critiques;

Illustrator A: “I really like the use of color in your illustration.” Illustrator B: “Nice of you to say so.” Illustrator A: “But I feel your composition is quite disturbing.” Illustrator B: “Oh yeah, how so?” Illustrator A: “Well I don’t know.” Illustrator B: “Oh, you don’t know?” Illustrator A: “Well maybe I feel that way because it needs something complementary. As it stands now, I can’t tell the difference between the sky and the water, so I can’t tell if the ants are swimming or flying.”
Usage: “Your complementary colors are pigmentary.”


1. something a designer calls a design;
2. when two or more things are depicted on one surface;
3. a skill not very many artists are good at.

Usage: “A good composition is the result of a single-minded determination and dedication to an anarchistic distrust in rules.”


1. an abstract idea that can be realistic;
2. a scheme usually used to get one out of actually doing any work;
3. someting not at all achievable through ideation;
3. a thing a client has no concept of;
1. an improper use of the word.

Usage: (Proper) “Concept is a sacred deity that only the most devout artists can summon.”
Usage: (Proper) “Imagine, a client paying for a job the moment it’s delivered…now that’s a concept.”
Usage: (Improper) “Son, you need to go and concept you up a piture.”

Concept Art

1. art that never is completed;
2. an idea that is trying to resemble art;
3. non-objective art;
4. something previously thought to be part of all illustrations.

Director: “Do you think you could concept art with a scene where our heroine can be seen but at the same time not seen?” Artist: “Do you want me to render her into it?” Director: “Sure, just as long as she can’t be seen.” Artist: “Where do you think I should not put her?” Director: “Anywhere no one will be able to find her.”
Usage: “Don’t you dare call that an illustration, it’s concept art.”


1. see composition.

Usage: “That configuration isn't quite a composition.”


1. someone who believes themselves to be an expert on art without ever having done any;
2. an extremely judgmental person;
3. a person who shows great appreciation for something by disliking it.

Illustrator A: “The judges of the Society of Illustrators Competition are real connoisseurs.” Illustrator B: “Of Art and Illustration.” Illustrator A: “No…of beer, and I’m not so sure about that.”


1. a red-brown sanguine crayon used to render blood;
2. French charcoal;
3. the only medium a first-year art student is allowed to use.

Usage: “If you keep drawing with that much pressure you’re going to snap that conté like a toothpick.”


1. a descriptive term that never goes out of date even if what it is describing does;
2. art and illustration produced back in 1950;
3. someone who is as old as you are, no matter what age that is;
4. all fashion illustration, no matter when it was done.

Usage: “Today’s contemporary hipsters are chill, the one’s in the 1950’s were only cool.”


1. a thing every illustration shouldn’t be without;
2. a circumstance that causes monetary fluctuations in the cost of an illustration;
3. a determining factor that may have to do with a client and have nothing whatsoever to do with the illustrator or illustration.

Director: “I would like our heroine to be at the bottom of that well you’ve drawn in the background there.” Artist: “Since the inside of the well can’t be seen, how will anyone know she’s actually in the well?” Director: “Because it is in context with her not being seen.” A while later… Artist: “I think I know what you mean. She shouldn’t be seen because she’s not in the scene yet.” Director: “Oh no, she’s definitely in the scene, but she’s not to be seen. You see?” A while later… Director: “I was looking at that well you drew and I thought I saw her.” Artist: “But I didn’t render her.” Director: “That has nothing to do with whether she was there or not.”
Usage: “You should have your wits about you when you are working in context.”


1. a line that behaves in an undisciplined manner;
2. the drawing equivalent of playing a guitar without looking at the fret board, and no one but Blind Lemmon Jefferson, Blind Willie McTell or Jeff Healey can do that;
3. acknowledging the edge of ones drawing capabilities.

Usage: “If you follow the contour of the big toe you’ll find it leads to the edge of the foot, which follows the ankle contour leading to the calf, then the thigh continues around the buttocks to the lower torso, which joins the upper torso with the shoulder, that extends to the neck and transitions to the jaw line which leads to the facial profile, that extends to the hair form which is all supported by the hair tie.”


1. see composition.

Usage: “That composition isn't quite a contraposition.”


1. a way to make something visible when it shouldn’t be;
2. a phenomena that occurs when a black drawing implement is placed in contact with a white drawing surface;
3. a state of détente between illustrator and client.

Director: “It seems it's that lack of contrast that is keeping our heroine from being visible.” Artist: “I thought that would be the best way to keep her from being seen.” Director: “Fundamentally your thinking is good, but now Finblat the grey dwarf can’t be seen either.” Artist: “I thought Finblat had died by the time this scene occurs.” Director: “Finblat is only ‘supposed‘ to have died, but he is actually still alive and a part of this scene, even if he’s not supposed to be seen.” Artist: “So he didn’t die, but he is not to be seen in this scene.” Director: “I don’t know why you are having such a hard time understanding this, Finblat is invisible.” Artist: “I insist that I still get paid for not rendering him.”
Usage: “Contrast provides visibility, a lack of contrast hides mistakes.”


1. a word designers often mistake for a noun;
2. what most artist’s believe themselves to be;
3. describing a person who is forced to only use the right side of his or her brain because they don’t have a left side.

Usage: “Now I’m a creative. Yeah, I’m a creative. Not a trace, of doubt in my mind. I’m in love, I’m a creative. Said I’m a creative, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m a creative, yeah, yeah, yeah…”
Usage: “Let me put on my thinking cap, it prevents the left side of my brain from interfering with a creative challenge.”

Creative Cloud

1. Adobe a.k.a. God and heaven;
2. a scheme for monitoring the creation of all art, first conceived in Stalinist Russia;
3. a non-religious form of tithing.

Usage: “Hey hey! you you! Get off of my creative cloud. Don’t hang around ‘cause two’s a crowd. Oh my creative cloud, baby…”
Usage: “#$@&%*$#&*@! creative cloud!”


1. the way an illustrator renders a tablecloth with napkins;
2. a drawing method that uses twice as much lead as necessary.

Usage: “If you insist on scribbling, at least try to make it look like crosshatching.”


1. a circulating joke;
2. any line, shape, form, article of clothing, object, or architectural structure that doesn’t consist of a straight line;
3. a term that makes artists feel as thought they have some sort of scientific knowledge.”

Usage: “That curvilinear form is contaminated with straight lines.”
Usage: “You do the hokey pokey, and you curvilinear yourself around, and that’s what it’s all about!”

For the letter A see The Illustrator’s Confidential Dictionary:

For the letter B see The Illustrator’s Genuwhine Dictionary:

I’d like to acknowledge the following individuals who provided inspiration for this project. G.K.C., L.T., B.A., B.D., B.H., J.P., G.H., B.F., and T.L.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Creative Commons For Illustrators

Creative Commons (CC) was founded in 2001 by Lawrence Lessig, Hal Abelson, and Eric Eldred with the support of Center for the Public Domain. With the proliferation of the internet, the organization felt there was a need to provide a licensing strategy for creative works that would be displayed in a digital environment. The concept was developed well before web domains like Pinterest, Tumbler, Instagram, Flickr, and other repositories for images even existed.

© 2015 Don Arday.
When I first heard of Creative Commons I was skeptical, and there are many skeptics out there still. In my case it had to do with my students not quite understanding how Creative Commons worked or what it had to offer. One student asked, “why pay to register anything with the Library of Congress when you can do it for free with Creative Commons?” The Library of Congress establishes absolute lawful ownership of creative content whereas Creative Commons does not establish copyright. Creative Commons licenses do not replace copyright, but are based upon it. Creative Commons operates on an honor system. It is assumed that a Creative Commons licensor has ownership of the copyright they are licensing. They state this very plainly in a number of places on the site. They even provide an “alert” link for prospective licensors at


Although Creative Common licenses do come with conditions, too many to list here, with some that may be undesirable for a creator, there may still be advantages for applying a Creative Commons license to a work such as an illustration, but it is very important to carefully consider the licensing conditions. One such condition is that CC licenses are irrevocable. “Once you apply a CC license to your material, anyone who receives it may rely on that license for as long as the material is protected by copyright and similar rights, even if you later stop distributing it.” This means that if you allowed an image you created to be licensed Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND), that image would be available for use for free for as long as the copyright extends. This would likely prohibit resale of the image, or including it in a stock illustration inventory. Another involves the ShareAlike condition, whereby someone other than the original creator can remix, transform, or build upon their material with an attribution to the original creator, with the stipulation that they must distribute their derivative contribution under the same license as the original. This can mean that the derivative version will have to be licensed the same way, but with the derivative creator receiving attribution instead of the original creator.


The Creative Commons licensing strategy consists of a tiered group of copyright-licenses called Creative Commons licenses. These licenses are offered free of charge to the public. The licenses allow creators (licensors) to classify image rights to clarify how other individuals or other creators (licensees) can use the images they own. CC licenses are meant to replace individual negotiations for specific rights between a copyright owner (licensor) and a licensee that are required under conventional copyright definitions such as "copyright all rights reserved" and "copyright some rights reserved" re-use cases where no commercial compensation is sought by the copyright owner. CC licenses clarify and streamline the licensing process.

The six licenses are provided on a one-page explanation of rights that include associated visual symbols for easy identification and accessible at The following language comes directly from the Creative Commons URL.

Attribution (CC BY)

This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)

This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

In addition to the six licenses, creators can use Creative Commons to designate a no rights reserved “public domain” status for their creation.

No Rights Reserved (CC0)

CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright- or database-protected content to waive those interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.

In contrast to CC’s licenses that allow copyright holders to choose from a range of permissions while retaining their copyright, CC0 empowers yet another choice altogether – the choice to opt out of copyright and database protection, and the exclusive rights automatically granted to creators – the “no rights reserved” alternative to our licenses.

How To Use CC

CC licenses can be obtained by following a few easy steps.

1. Choose your license features by answering two questions. Allow adaptations of your work, yes or no. And allow commercial uses of your work, yes or no.

2. Select a license. Based on your responses to the questions asked, a license will be suggested for choosing.

3. Provide attribution information. A metafile information form is provided allowing title of work, name to attribute the work to, URL for the work attribute, source URL for the work, more permissions, the format for the work, and a license mark format.

4. Insert Creative Commons license icon and metadata on your web page. This will enable you to share your CC license with others through CC-enabled content directories such as Google and Yahoo. These content platforms have already enabled CC licensing, making it easy for you to indicate the license along with other information, such as who to attribute. In addition, search engines like Google and Yahoo! will index your work as CC licensed if the metadata is properly attached.

How CC Works

Google and other search platforms allows users to filter their search results by usage rights. Search results can be limited to the particular CC license sought. For example, when looking for an illustration to adapt, a search can be conducted for images that that have a CC license with permission to be able to create adaptations. This search feature can be found on the advanced search page of a selected search engine. You can also use CC Search, which offers a convenient interface to search and a list of those content providers that support searches for content based on usage rights. The following list of search platforms can be simultaneously accessed for a subject search at Searchable image sources include the following engines:

Monday, March 2, 2015

Types of Illustration Licensing

© 2015 Don Arday.
The licensing of work produced for illustration commissions represents a significant income stream for illustrators. The terms of licensing and any associated fees for usage should be included on all illustration estimates and invoices. Providing a client with a separate broken out fee for licensing not only identifies licensing as a cost, it clarifies the client’s responsibilities concerning use of the illustration. Any usage restrictions, ownership of image, and status of image copyright should be stated and agreed upon. By doing this, and placing usage restrictions on an illustration, an illustrator can generate potential income, either by selling additional licensing for an illustration already created, or having a client reevaluate their usage needs for a illustration they are about to commission.

Example 1: A client commissions an illustration for US only usage, but then decides to purchase licensing to include using the illustration internationally.

Example 2: An illustration is created for a book cover and licensed for the first edition of the book. Sometime later the publisher decides to put out a second edition. Because the licensing was limited to the first edition, the publisher pays an additional fee for second edition licensing.

Example 3: An illustration is created for an editorial article in a magazine with the usage restricted to the magazine only. The publisher decides they want to use the illustration in a promotional mailer to attract subscribers. For this non-publication usage the illustrator is paid another separate licensing fee.

Limited Licensing

Most licensing that is purchased is for limited engagement situations like one time publications, single event promotions, time-sensitive advertising, situational marketing, etc. To accommodate a variety of circumstances surrounding a commission there are different types of limited licensing available. For some commissions a single limitation may be all that is necessary, while for others more than one limitation may be advisable.

Situation Based

Situational licensing is appropriate when an illustration is commissioned for a specific limited purpose, such as for a non-recurring article in a periodical, a limited edition print run, a single event, etc.

Example 4: An illustration is commissioned for a corporate brochure with a limited print run of 5000 copies. A separate licensing fee would be required for a reprint of additional copies.

Time Based

Another common form of licensing comes in the form of a time based limitation. Here usage is restricted to a period of time rather than by situation.

Example 5: An illustration produced for a magazine advertisement is limited to one year of use from the date of first publication. Although limited by time, the ad with the illustration can be placed in any number of publications for one year. An extension of the time period beyond one year would require another licensing fee.

Location Based

Licensing can be restricted by location. Domestic US, regional, and international, usage are most common, but licensing can also be even more restrictive such as to a specific market.

Example 6: An illustration commissioned for a national fast food chain is restricted exclusively to its Texas market. If the company wishes to use the illustration in other markets, then an additional licensing fee will have to be paid.

Unlimited Licensing

Although “unlimited licensing” may be an inaccurate term, it is nevertheless commonly used. It’s a misnomer because all licensing involves some form of restriction, otherwise it wouldn’t be considered licensing. Unlimited licensing can be restricted or non-restricted.



One form of unlimited restricted licensing concerns a prohibition on commercial usage. This restriction would also exclude non-profit usage except where otherwise noted in the terms of licensing.

Example 7: An illustrator lists an illustration with Creative Commons, a licensing registry and grants usage for any personal non-commercial purpose (CC BY-NC), such as on a birthday party invitation, or even a tattoo.

For information on Creative Commons licensing visit

Single Purpose

Another type of unrestricted licensing pertains to unlimited usage for a single purpose. It may be for usage in a specific media, by an individual company, for a certain event, etc.

Example 8: An illustrator grants permission for a non-profit organization to use an illustration created for an annual fundraising event for any purpose connected with the event now and in the future.


An unrestricted licensing agreement is often confused with buyout licensing and copyright transfer, but there is a very distinct difference between them. An unrestricted license grants unlimited usage to a client without restricting usage by the illustrator. The illustrator retains ownership of the copyright and has the right to remarket the illustration to another client and use it for self-promotion.

Example 9: An international pharmaceutical company commissioned an illustration with unrestricted usage. In this instance they can use the image worldwide, on any media, and for any length of time for their own product or promotion. And depending on the licensing arrangement they may even be able to produce derivative images from the original illustration, but they cannot resell the illustration to another company or restrict the illustrator from using it for another purpose such as selling the image to another company.

Buyout Licensing

A buyout is a similar to unrestricted licensing, but with one very important distinction. It allows a client to have the same privileges as an unrestricted license while prohibiting the illustrator from utilizing the image for another non-personal purpose. Also the client cannot resell the illustration to another company, nor can the illustrator. Derivative images may or may not be permissible depending on the licensing arrangement. With a buyout, the illustrator still retains the right of image ownership and may use the image for self-promotion.

Example 10: An illustration is commissioned and licensed for buyout. The image can be used by, and becomes exclusive to, the client for any purpose with no time limit. The illustrator may not remarket the image, but can use the image for self -promotion.

Copyright Transfer

Upon completion of a copyright transfer a client assumes title and proprietorship of an illustration. The new owner may resell the illustration, alter or create derivative images based on it, license the image, and transfer copyright. A transfer of copyright denotes a total surrender of image ownership and all image rights. The illustrator does not receive accreditation for the image and may not use the image for any purpose, even self-promotion without permission of the owner.

Example 11: An illustrator agrees to a copyright transfer of an image created for another purpose to a third-party company for a lucrative fee. The company purchasing the illustration turns it into a branding element on clothing and other types of merchandise resulting in millions of dollars of revenue. The illustrator receives no accreditation from the exposure or remuneration from the profits enjoyed by the image copyright owner. The end.