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Thread: Inspiring, Imitating and Copying

  1. #1
    Professional Artist Cunning Cartographer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Question Inspiring, Imitating and Copying

    So I was wondering what peoples opinions were on being inspired by someones work, using their work as a reference and trying to imitate elements of it, or simply trying to copy their style as is. I'm not talking about cutting elements out of someones previously drawn map, or tracing it verbatim, but for example thinking "I like how they draw trees/mountains" and then using the same, or at least a very similar, style.

    For me this seems like an overall grey area given that there's a lot of tutorials that people do for others and by following these tutorials you are essentially replicating someone else's technique and adopting their style (albeit to probably less success than the original author). I often find myself when drawing maps thinking "how does <name> draw their tables/mountains/coastlines" and then loading their art up an then imitating it, or am I simply copying it?

    I've only had my graphics tablet for 4 months, have never done hand drawn maps ever, and so I feel I'm still trying to find my own style and technique and in the mean time am using other peoples until I find my own way, but I still can't help but feel that maybe it's bad etiquette.

    So what about you? Do you find yourself using other peoples work for your own maps? How would you feel about people trying to replicate your own style; flattered or furious?
    Last edited by Cunning Cartographer; 09-01-2012 at 07:04 AM.

  2. #2
    Guild Adept Freodin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010


    "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" (Charles Caleb Colton)

    No, I cannot say I have any problems with taking someone elses way to produce beautiful stuff in order to produce beautiful stuff myself.

    If you are capable to "find [your] own style and technique", you will do so, and trying other styles and techniques can only help you in that process. Even when you have found your own style, it can still yield interesting results to try different things, different styles and see how you interprete other peoples views and works.

  3. #3
    Community Leader Guild Sponsor Korash's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Montreal, Canada


    I have to agree with Freodin about the style thing. Style is something that developes over time and with practice, and derives from what the user likes and dislikes (obviously shying away from the dislikes). The more you practice, the more a style will develope. If you only practice using one persons technique, your style will be simular to theirs, but most likely not the same. The more techniques that you practice, the more refined YOUR style becomes. And more distinctive.

    As for the Big Three you mentioned in the Title, Any work that inspires you to try a new style or to push yourself a little further is real good in my mind. Imitation, well I think Freodin quoted the line I would use to answer that question. As long as it is not "copy/paste", copying, even tracing someone elses work is one of the better ways to learn a style, or to figure out what the techniques used were. In those cases though, you had better give credit!!
    Art Critic = Someone with the Eye of an Artist, Words of a Bard, and the Talent of a Rock.

    Please take my critiques as someone who Wishes he had the Talent

  4. #4


    Yep, what they said ^.

    I tend to fail at following tutorials. I think 90% of the time I ended up going off on my own path with varying results but along the way I learned how to use the software to make more or less what I wanted to see. Not that I always get what I'm after but I seem to be closer each time. The result is that I have a certain look and feel that isn't quite the same as anyone else and that's pretty much how I want it anyway. Any time someone draws (meaning other than a filter effect) things will be unique because no two people draw exactly the same anyway.

    I recall a thought, I can't remember where I read it at the moment but it stated basically that rather than try to force your art to look like someone else's you should allow your art to lead you to where it wants to go. You will be more successful because you will never be better at copying someone than they are at being themselves.

    So my advice would be to look at what others have done. Take a mental picture but then go make it yourself according to your interpretation.

    The one area you should not copy from others is how they draw people. Anatomy is tricky and if you copy someone else's you will also be copying their mistakes. For Anatomy it's best to use real models.

    PS. And for the record, any time someone references something I drew as an inspiration for their work it makes me feel great. I'm sure it's the same for others here as well.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

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