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What is Tracing, Eyeballing, Referencing

What is Tracing, Eyeballing, Referencing
Posted 2021-01-31 07:21:08 (edited)

Differences between Tracing, Eyeballing and Referencing

Due to some misconceptions about referencing in the context of Art Sales and Custom Decors, we have decided to bring this guide by Xylax from Lioden to Wolvden. Hopefully this will explain better what we consider tracing, copying, eyeballing and proper referencing.

What is not allowed - tracing, copying, eyeballing, gridding, frankensteining/frankendolling. You CAN exhibit such art if credit to original artist is given - however you cannot make profit on that.

- Tracing is drawing over the photo/art.
- Copying is drawing a copy of a photo/art not necessarily traced, or traced with an artistic deviation.
- Eyeballing is producing a copy of the photo/art without tracing. The copy might differ enough in anatomy or details to not match perfectly, but it's still obviously a copy of the original.
- Gridding is producing a copy of the photo/art using a gridding technique.
- Frankesteining/frankendolling is picking various photos and creating a collage from them using a head, body, paws from different angles/photos and tracing/copying it.

What is allowed - referencing.

What is proper referencing, exactly? Let me explain. There are two kind of referencing, close reference and normal.

What we consider Normal Referencing is using multiple photos or inspiring art that help you understand how anatomy or perspective works for the subject you're aiming for. Based on the gathered refs you can create your own, unique art. Your final art does not resemble references, however it is inspired by them. The inspiration can be visible or not, but does not have to be credited.

Close reference is similar as above, but you are using few sources or your final outcome resembles one of the sources very closely, although it is different enough to be your own art, and not break any copyright laws. In this case, we do prefer when people credit the original when selling art, to be fair towards the buyers, who might not prefer close referencing.

For this reason we would also prefer close references not to be used for Custom Decors.

Visual Presentation

I have prepared this fast visual explanation of how certain things are different.

Original picture found here

May we ask for examples that happened on Wolvden? Sure you can! Except they are from our sister site Lioden. Let me show you in next two posts what is okay and what is not okay!

Note: Tracing part contains art done by players on Lioden. Since it's a traced art posted on OUR forums or submitted as custom decors, I consider it public enough to share as examples on what not do. I do not mean any harm or ill-will towards the artists - this is purely for educational purposes. If you want your art to be taken down, please contact the modbox.

This member is an Admin. Deader

Posted 2021-01-31 07:24:00 (edited)

Referencing - what is okay

Normal Referencing - multiple inspirations, where final outcome is different enough, while influenced by used references in meaning of anatomy, perspective, shading, colours, or anything that can inspire.

( ^ credit to Flareon for this one!)

Close Reference

Explanation: Here you can see the original picture being the reference. However, the outcome has differences which I marked with a brush. This means the person deviated from the original enough that the final art is different, and thus their own - however it would be nice if they linked back to the inspiration they used.

I prepared this some time ago as explanation to my mods why I considered this not a copy, when we received a report. I do not remember the original artist, so forgive me, but they are a player on Lioden.

This member is an Admin. Deader

Posted 2021-01-31 07:36:49
Remember that when artist posts traced art on Lioden and claim as their own, they are breaking the rules and infringe copyrights, and thus such art can be used for educational purposes. However, if the artist wants it taken down they should contact the modbox. I think by sharing this way, you give back to community, so it's up to you.


Following are examples of lineart/art overlays matching the original photos exactly. Sometimes it's difficult to match them when photo has been rotated or skewed, however not impossible.

These are okay if you plan to exhibit your art as practice/gallery, but they NEED to be credited with original link back to the artist. Traced images cannot generate profit on Lioden/Wolvden. Please note that using traced images in a gallery that advertises or showcases your commercial work is also NOT permitted.


Just as above, but copying does not always mean a trace. Let me explain on each picture.

Here, artist of the smaller cub on the left wanted to submit this as a custom decor. However, the face and backarea of the cub was a copy of our Extra Limbs mutation.

Here, the serval is a possible trace, while some parts of the body like tail or markings are different.

Here, the lioness head had the outline and general anatomy traced, however the eyes were made bigger, and mouth placed a bit lower. It is still a copy.

Here, the cub is copied exactly from the original photo. It might not be traced at all, however the pose and proportions are a perfect match - and thus become a copy.

Here, the outline seems to be a trace or a very close eyeballing. Leg and ear placement show perfect match, while the tail and mane are artist's invention. Unfortunately this still breaks the copyright.

Here, the pose was traced, however the muzzle and tail were deviated. While not being a perfect trace, it still is a copy that breaks the rules.


Eyeballing is copying a picture without tracing or gridding. Here's an example:

You can notice the overlay shows the picture is not a match in terms of tracing. There's enough deviation in the paw and proportions to be different. However, it is clearly visible it's still a copy of the original photo, and thus, this is breaking the rules.

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