Graphics Guide

Copyright, Image Usage, Art Theft

Souls has many talented members -- some are skilled at photomanipulation and making graphics and others are illustrators or cartoonists. We take art theft and copyright infringement very seriously and make every effort to protect creator rights.

Copyright infringement is the usage of materials without the permission of rights holder -- in our case, it is the use of art or photography without the permission of the artist or photographer.

Contrary to popular belief, one cannot simply find an image on Google and use it as an avatar. All images uploaded to the Internet are not public domain; indeed, a majority of the content on the Internet is protected under copyright law. The fact that drawings and photos are easily saved, shared, changed, and re-purposed, doesn't mean that anyone has that right.

All images used and posted to 'Souls should be done so with permission and with credit.

Free-Use Photography & Template/Base Art

These days, it's a lot easier to find royalty-free stock photography, Creative Commons work, and free-use template artwork for use.

Sites like Pixabay and Unsplash make beautiful photography a lot easier to source. Many artists also offer up free lineart and art templates that others can color and use to depict personal characters. Many 'Soulsters have contributed to our own repository of free art templates over the years, and we also have a list of other image-related resources on the Wiki.

We encourage players to take advantage of these resources, but please remember that you still must credit your sources. Most free-use art and photography require it as part of their terms ("Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike" is the most common CC license!), but regardless, 'Souls requires the credit in all cases for purposes of clarity and transparency.

Original Artwork

All instances of a player using art they did not create, commission, receive as a gift, or otherwise have permission to use will be investigated by the administration.

If you are using someone else's art, in addition to crediting, please make sure that:
  • The artist allows use of their work. Some artists are okay with roleplayers and other netizens using their images for whatever, with no restrictions. Some artists never want their art used anywhere without their permission. Look for an artist Terms of Use or Frequently Asked Questions list. Failing all else, contact the artist and ask. If they grant permission for usage, save or screenshot the correspondence and be ready to give it to the 'Souls Assemblage.
  • You adhere to terms set forth by the artist. For example, if the artist asks for a link back to their gallery where you use their art, include the link. If the artist requires that their copyright notice remains intact on the art itself, leave it alone.
  • Remember that all art you did not create must at least include text credit to the artist. The only exception is if the artist explicitly requests that they are not credited.
  • If you do not know whether an artist allows general usage or not, assume that they don't and don't use the art.
If you made the art you're using, please remember to credit yourself! You deserve the credit, and again, this helps a lot with clarity and transparency from a staff perspective.

Art Theft VS Tracing, Copying, and Referencing

Art theft -- e.g., claiming another person's work as your own -- is a bannable offense. This includes implicit claiming -- e.g. not crediting and allow others to assume that you've made the art.

Art theft is not limited to just taking an image and calling it your own. Tracing or editing the original image by adding elements, recoloring, or redrawing parts still does not make the image yours and is still considered art theft.

Tracing, Copying, and Referencing

Using someone else's art wholesale is a pretty straightforward violation, but the line gets a little fuzzier when artists are still using their own hand to create something.


TRACING is the direct copying of an existing work by drawing over the lines of the original. Tracing part of a work and improvising the rest is still tracing -- for example, everything was traced except the ears, which are repositioned, or the mouth, which is slightly different. Tracing can be an excellent learning tool, but in general, we discourage artists from sharing art that has been traced. It can be misleading at best and cause a lot of undue grief and drama at worse.

If traced work "must" be shared, it is required that 1) the original artist allows it, 2) the tracing artist notes that the work is traced, and if possible, 3) the original work is linked. This applies to both traced art and traced photos.

Traced work that is not properly credited or sourced is considered art theft.


COPYING is an attempt to replicate an existing work without tracing. This generally means that most elements of the existing work and the copy are the same, such as pose, expression, clothing type, etc, though again some elements may be changed or simplified.

Unless their style is photorealism, most artists inject their own personality and style into "direct copies" of photos. We do not consider copying photos to be art theft and do not require credit in these cases.

However, "direct copies" of existing art, where very few elements of the original are changed, fall under the same guidelines as tracing.

There isn't always a clear line as to when a copy deviates from the original "enough" though. We encourage artists copying others in whole or part to use their best judgment, and to be thoughtful and courteous. When in doubt, ask permission and leave credit.

That said, many expressions and poses are used frequently between many artists and two artists using the same pose doesn't necessarily mean that one copied the other. It's not unbelievable that two (or even twenty!) artists independently wanted to draw a wolf with cocked eyebrows and a roguish grin. So we also encourage artists to give others the benefit of the doubt as much as possible.

Copying is the fuzziest grey area here. Artists who post copied work may be asked to remove the work, but with the exception of direct copies of art, we would not consider typically this art theft.


REFERENCING is looking frequently at an existing work, or many existing works, in order to more accurately depict certain elements of a shared subject. For example, looking at photos or artwork of wolves to better understand underlying anatomy, but not trying to directly replicate part of any given source work, or looking at a kicking pose to construct your own character in that kicking pose.

Sometimes the line between copying and referencing is also fuzzy. Pose referencing often involves looking at a single image, but you're transposing your own character into the place of the model. It's safest to use photos for reference though, as referencing existing artwork can often lead to accidental or unintentional copying.

Referencing work is a crucial part of being an artist, but as always, please be thoughtful, courteous, and use your best judgment! We do not require referenced work be mentioned or credited, nor will referencing work ever be considered art theft, but if in referencing a work, your resulting piece ends up looking too much like a copy, then it's a copy!


Code Theft?

It's a little bit different when it comes to code. In general, the administration has taken a stance that most types of code used in the roleplaying world can't really be stolen. A majority of HTML, CSS, and Wiki code snippets written for usage in roleplay communities are relatively basic -- there are only so many ways a post template can be cobbled together. The same techniques produced across various profile skins, post templates, tables, post logs, etc. can only be reproduced using those same pieces of code. There aren't two different ways to write an ordered list in HTML, after all.

Different players have different levels of code skill, and looking at more advanced code is an excellent way of learning. Modifying existing code and learning how it works is one of the best ways to self-teach code.

We encourage players to ask other players before taking any code from them -- that's the polite thing to do!

However, the administration does not involve itself in the vast majority of complaints regarding coding.

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