Mike Sibley
In my N. Yorkshire studio
October 20/21
Only 2 places remaining

Workshops ONLINE
Join me at
full details

JD Hillberry
Milpitas, CA :
October 19 - 21

Subject: Smooth Skin
full details
Fort Worth, TX :
November 9 - 11

Subject: Rough Skin / Dark background
full details
Austin, TX :
November 16 - 18

Subject: Realistic Still Life
full details
Pencil Kit & DVD
Everything I supply in my live workshops
full details

Copyright - can I draw or not?

For registration, logging in or any other queries but first click the FAQ button above for answers. And post your suggestions here for making The Drawing Forum the best online drawing community.

Moderator: Mike Sibley

User avatar
Posts: 372
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:45 pm
Location: Bradford West Yorkshire

Copyright - can I draw or not?

Postby PogArt » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:25 pm

Hi to all my friends.
I'm just willing to be sure whether I can draw it or not...
I'll provide you with some example.
- I'd like to draw a portrait of the dog?
I'm searching Google for photography I like.
I'm downloading chosen photo and starting drawing it.
When finished, I'm making copies and selling them out.
I'm making money on my drawing but the reference photo wasn't mine...
I'm concerned about it.
Can I , or I can not ?
Please help...
Artur Adamczyk

Site Admin
User avatar
Posts: 773
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:42 pm
Location: Thirsk, UK

Re: Copyright - can I draw or not?

Postby Mike Sibley » Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:47 am

It's a very grey area. Yes, you can. Legally, you can't. You might get away with or you might not. The photographer might recognise his/her photo and demand the work is removed, destroyed, or a portion of the profits paid to them. And the photographer's might be informed of the copyright infringement by friends - which is how I discover most of the fraudulent use of my own work on eBay etc.

Ideally, take you own photos. At dog shows I used to take clandestine photos first and then ask the owner for permission to use them. If you ask first the dog ceases to behave naturally - usually pulled up into a show pose.

Drawing from someone else's photo is perfectly OK for personal use, and you can most probably exhibit it. Everything changes when you try to make commercial use of it. I'm, thinking mainly of celebrity art here - most celebs are delighted (at least, agreeable) to the additional promotion. Try to sell the work and you'll be hit by their agent. That happened once on and I had to remove the offending work very quickly to save the artist from prosecution.

You may have heard that changing the image by 10% removes the copyright problem. I believe that's myth. The test is - is you work predominantly based on the copyrighted photo.

one workaround - not recommended - is to take a number of photos and combine them. The head of one, ears from another, colouring and/or markings from a third, body from yet another. That should work ;)

But - in the case of dogs - I've found the best solution is to find a local breeder, or owner, willing to allow photography in exchange for a copy of the print - or give them 10 copies so they can sell or give away 9. I often used that strategy when putting together my limited edition prints and I'd give print #1 to the owner of the dogs.
Mike Sibley
Book: Drawing from Line to Life
Blog : Drawing from Line to Life blog
Visit my Starving Artists for free and subscription galleries

User avatar
Posts: 372
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:45 pm
Location: Bradford West Yorkshire

Re: Copyright - can I draw or not?

Postby PogArt » Thu Jul 07, 2016 11:22 am

Thank you so much for this answer.
It's seems to be good idea to trade with the dog owners and I do like it, it's very keen to the owner to offer some prints ;)
The dog I've chosen as an example.
Regarding drawing wild animals, insects or other things that we're simply unable to take those photos ourself should we first try to find the photo source to ask for permission before we might start drawing from that photo please?
Then, if we're unable to track the chosen photo it's best to mix some similar photos to draw one art drawing but created up from different sources, it makes sense ;)
It can be some of safe way to draw from online photos.., but also my concern is, regarding insects for this example...
Searching for different body parts of insects,if you know I mean Mike is not much advisable, I guess...
Is it ok in such case to change anything on the drawing then?
I mean, change the background or insect's pose, just to base our drawing on some ref photo but make the subject of our drawing very different from ref photo?
Could it have be the way around please?
Thank you for taking a part of my question.
Artur Adamczyk


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests