Is it possible to make an image uneditable

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by dazzer21, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. dazzer21 macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2005
    I need to send some illustration concepts to a company for appraisal. I've watermarked the images, but as they are black and white and not particularly complicated, it has occurred to me that it's quite easy to be able to remove said watermarks in Photoshop. Firstly, what format should I send them across in - EPS, PDF, JPEG etc? Secondly, is there something that can physically be done to the file in order to make it readable, but uneditable in any way, shape or form?
  2. MacDawg macrumors P6


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    There is no format you can send that cannot be altered
    Regardless, it could be screen captured and altered
  3. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Send over a low-resolution PDF (72-144ppi) with all security options locked down, except for the ability to print, perhaps. You can do all this in Acrobat Pro, including removing the ability to extract content using Photoshop.

    Third-party utilities can work around this given enough time and messing around, but most people won't bother.
  4. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    Just give a really low resolution.
  5. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    If you are doing work for this company, then surely you have a contract? When I'm doing work for a client, I don't worry about them stealing my work - that usually happens after I have completed a job and they start using the work for other purposes. :rolleyes:

    If you have a carefully worded contract, it should spell out your terms. But if someone is hiring you to produce art, then they own the rights to the work unless you've made arrangements otherwise.

    I believe that if you start locking down your work, it says to a client that you don't trust them. I also believe that long-term relationships are more important than worrying about a particular work. I guess I'm more interested in making money than coveting my work. If a client steals my work, I send them a bill, and then I simply don't work for them anymore.

    If you are worried about sending work on spec and having it taken without compensation, well... then you are screwed before you start. That is why I don't do spec work.

    In your case, I would just send a flattened file and add a disclaimer that it's a proof/mockup and not for final usage. Trust them and they might trust you. It's called building a client relationship.
  6. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    Yes there is, and this is how.

    1) Add layer in Photoshop
    2) Drop a black paint bucket
    3) Merge Down
    4) Save as..
  7. Messy macrumors 6502

    Sep 5, 2010
    Meh, protect it with a free Creative Commons licesnse and you're home free.
  8. nonameowns macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2010

    big fat watermark.

    low res.

    game over.
  9. dazzer21 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2005
    This isn't contracted work. I am approaching companies with examples of what I can do; unfortunately the nature of the illustrations I'm sampling them with mean that unscrupulous types could take it, easily remove any watermarks (it is simple line-work, after all) and use it for their own purposes. I can obviously include a caveat somewhere that I own copyright of the image, but when you're sending examples overseas for manufacturing companies to look at, it's a little difficult to get legitimately signed agreements that it won't be copied and used... unless anyone knows better!!
  10. SwiftLives macrumors 65816


    Dec 7, 2001
    Charleston, SC
    Another option would be to get a really nice printout of some of your illustration work and photograph various closeup details of it..
  11. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Great idea. And include contact info as part of the image of course.
  12. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
    maybe you should focus more on gaining contract work and be less worried about people trying to copy your work.

    Most companies are willing to pay for the work they like ... removing your watermark is more trouble than it is worth.
  13. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    I totally agree. People waste more money and time trying to protect work without realizing that the value is NOT in the actual work, but the idea that goes behind it. The legitimate people that you want to work with probably won't steal. The others will, and there isn't much you can do about it without turning off the former. If I were to receive a heavily watermarked design, I would think... "gee, this guy has trust issues".

    That being said, the only way (without involving attorneys, watermarks and low-rez crap), is to print out and photograph the work. Though, if done poorly, it will have a negative reflection on the work.
  14. iPhoneCollector macrumors 6502a


    Nov 30, 2010
    you should copyright the photo and sue the company immediately if they try to steal it.
    no really just send the a picture of you holding the printed picture in dark light, then edit the picture to a very low resolution
  15. camomac macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2005
    Left Coast
    This method also works well with white.
  16. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502


    Sep 11, 2007
    Restrict editing using Acrobat

    Just a suggestion, you could send them a PDF file of the images and lock the files. If you have Acrobat, you can decided what features you want to restrict. For example, you can lock the file so that no one can edit it without a password. You can also allow them to print them or if you choose, you can restrict printing as well. There are quite a few options and I would imagine that one of them would help you in this situation.

    Good luck.
  17. neko girl macrumors 6502a

    neko girl

    Jan 20, 2011
    @MechaSpanky, someone could still take a screenshot and apply some simple Photoshop (as MacDawg has said).
  18. notjustjay, Jan 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011

    notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I'm not a designer, but this has got me wondering: does it really matter?

    As others have explained, the real reason someone hires you is for your design ability, not for the work you've already done. Say I'm an unscrupulous competitor who finds some of your work and steals it and passes it off as my own. Then what happens? I get hired because a client likes "my" work, and.... ? It's highly unlikely that I can take a piece of your work, simply stick my name on it, and sell it. Since I don't have the design ability that you do (or the right software, the right fonts, etc.) I can't make changes consistent with the work I stole, my client quickly realizes that I couldn't design anything as nice as they wanted, and I'm quickly found out to be a fraud.
  19. jeremy h macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2008
    I can understand why photographers (and stock companies) get worried by this but as a designer I tend to agree with the notjustjay and THX1139.

    The best thing you can have as designer is good repeat clients. People who obviously copy / steal work don't get repeat work as it will always lack the context and thinking. We're all ideas magpies - everything we create is based on something else (try drawing an alien drawing that looks like nothing on earth for example) so trying to 'own' ideas is rather difficult. I 'culturally borrow' - you 'rip off' etc etc

    Also I find huge copyright slapped across speculative submissions etc vaguely insulting, every time I view it it reminds me forcibly and loudly that you don't trust me - an obviously lores image and perhaps subtle copyright is both sensible and enough in my opinion.
  20. MechaSpanky macrumors 6502


    Sep 11, 2007
    Yes, that is true and it is a very good point but I still think that a locked PDF file (with the editing capabilities restricted) will deter most people who might think about stealing your stuff. Sure there are others out there that will take the time to download a high res screen capture utility (you will have to actually download a program to do this as the normal screen capture on Macs is 72 ppi, which is low res) but I would imagine that most companies wouldn't do that. It is the same problem that software companies face with piracy. There will always be people who can and will steal stuff, but the majority will not.

    I myself, as a designer have been asked to submit samples of my work for review by clients. I have never had anyone steal any of my work (although there have been a couple of companies that might have "borrowed" some of my design ideas but that is even harder to prevent). Just to be safe, I always use a PDF with restricted editing capabilities and I also add a watermark. Sure someone can get around this but it will take them a while to do it (never underestimate the power of a well placed watermark, it can make retouching an image very difficult if positioned correctly).

    In the end, I would imagine that the best thing to do is to make sure that you can trust the people who you are dealing with. Of course this is not always an option (nor is it an easy thing to determine).

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