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Topics - ThomasAmby

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Illustration - General / Technical question for illustrators
« on: June 02, 2013, 05:15 »

Yesterday I created some illustrations for microstock and everything went well except for the fact that I carelessly used CS6 functions throughout the entire illustrations (transparency on only one slider of the gradient panel, multiple artboards etc.). Yes I should have known better, but it's been a long time since I created microstock.

So, I saved the illustrations as EPS10 (fortunately also remembered to save a CS6 compatible version of each), and when I opened the EPS10 file again, what I noticed was that the shapes which I filled with gradients where only one slider was transparent, had however not been rasterized. Instead, apparently they had been automatically converted to "opacity masks" which is a function I have never used before.

My question is now, do the agencies accept these opacity masks or do I need to manually apply new EPS10 compatible gradients to all of them / redo the illustration?

I hope someone can help me. I know I can always try by submitting, but it's such a hassle if done in vain.

Best regards

General Stock Discussion / Tips on how to find your images in use
« on: December 26, 2012, 10:21 »
Okay, so I was bored and figured I wanted to spend some time searching for real life examples of my stock images in use. I've become quite good at it and figured out some new ways to get better results. During the last couple of days I've been focusing on finding out which pizzerias throughout the world uses my illustration of a pizza chef because it has sold steadily since 2008:

During the last couple of days I found at least 10-20 examples of this image on the front store of various pizzerias, on menu cards, book covers etc., and even as embroidery:

I'm not sure if you can apply these techniques on all photos or illustrations, but hopefully it will serve as an inspiration and you can develop your own techniques for your specific illustrations/photos. Anyways, I'm going to share all the steps I took in order to find this pizza guy in use with the help from Google and Bing:

Google Search By Image

1. Tip no. 1 - Upload your image directly into Google or drag it into the search field in order for it to find matches. This is the first thing you do. By default Google will find some keywords it thinks applies and use them in addition to the image you just uploaded. For instance, when I upload the pizza chef image it automatically fetched the keywords "pizza pronto" which I find rather strange - other examples might be "vector clipart pizza chef" which isn't of any help in regards to what I want to do. It doesn't help me in my search, so I replace these default keywords with various keywords I think will help me in - examples are "logo", "pizzeria", "pizza", "restaurant" or "take away". Each time with more or less the same results, however some new results appear every time I change the keywords. I've also had new results by translating some keywords into other languages, for instance the Italian "ristorante" instead of "restaurant".

2. By using the above method I found various examples of my image on websites of pizzerias around the world. These were the most interesting results. If they use my image on the website, do they use it in there printed material as well? Look for a "photo's" section on their website, go to their Facebook group if they have one and try to find all the photos that is available of their store / physical location. This has worked surprisingly well for me. You can also google the name of the store and browse photos, use Flickr, Bing etc.

3. When you think you're done and have browsed through all results on Google, go to Illustrator / Photoshop and reverse the photo. Some people might have preferred a reversed or upside down version of your illustration / photo, and this leads to entirely new results on Google's Search By Image.

4. Some restaurants used my image on their website but didn't have any photos of their physical location neither on Facebook or Google. Try using Google Street View and tune in on their address, you might be lucky the Google car snapped an image of their store front. I found two more pizzerias using my image this way.

5. If you're looking for a vector illustration in use, lose some details and upload the image to Google Search By Image again. I tried removing the steam from the pizza, along with the circular frame surrounding the chef. This lead to yet another bunch of new results with modified versions of my illustration.

6. Use Bing. I'm not very familiar with Bing, but it's a great addition to Google Image Search. First off, I started by finding one of my illustrations at a stock agency. I then clicked "more sizes of this image" (not "similar images", it doesn't work as well for some reason) and surprisingly it also found modified versions of my image with text, banners etc. - I had already seen most of the results on Google, but also new ones appeared that Google apparently hadn't crawled. This lead me to new findings as well

General tips:
These techniques are better performed with your top 10 (or maybe 5) selling images, otherwise it might be a waste of time. Also use images that have sold for several years and not something you uploaded half a year ago - it won't work in most cases.

If you do manage to find your images in use by some company, please try not to contact them unless they're using your image illegally in some way. They might be confused because most likely another designer has been involved with the development of the sign/whatever, and they have no clue about "microstock" or "you" being the originator of the illustration/photo. It will be all weird to them. I've personally come across LOTS and lots of illegal uses and plagiarism during my little journey (and even signs printed with watermark), but this stuff just doesn't upset me anymore as it used to. It's entirely out of my control, and I'm still making money from honest customers, so whatever.

If you want to check out some of my findings with the above techniques (I only posted the most interesting ones imo), you can check out my gallery on Facebook:

And feel free to post your own techniques and findings, that would be interesting :)

Happy New Year to you all



It reads "FeaturePi c s" with added spacing between the letters i, c and s, and I simply can't figure out whether this is merely the result of bad kerning or if it was intended. I'm very curious to know if anyone gets why it was done this way ?

This is their former logo, as you may remember

PS. Please do not discuss sales performance or other non-related matters here  ;)

Off Topic / Well, if it isn't...
« on: February 23, 2012, 15:25 »
..."Mads" ? Did he have a name change ?  :)

I really need some opinions - is it okay to submit micro images to Alamy ? Can it be justified by the different (and possibly wider) licensing terms ?

I've always restrained myself from joining because I wouldn't want to be that buyer who found the image on a micro site the next day. On the other hand, maybe some buyers are staying with Alamy because they like their service and licensing terms - well aware of all the micro alternatives out there. Maybe they're seeing some professionalism / extra security there that they won't find on the micros - I have no idea.
What do you think, do you have any qualms submitting micro images to Alamy as RF?

It's probably not going to change my opinion on this, but I guess if everyone else is doing it and it's not against the Alamy contributor agreement, I might consider jumping on the bandwagon.

I wanted to make a poll for better "measurement" of opinions, but don't know how to.

ETA: There it was.

Veer / Disappearing payments at Veer ?
« on: May 09, 2011, 13:23 »
I had a payment of $100+ pending, but now it says $0.00 and I haven't received the money (just checked). Also, "past payments" now says "no payment history found", which is not true.
Anyone else experiencing this ?

I kind of don't bother with [email protected] as I've never had a reply for the two messages I've sent so far (even though the second one had URGENT in the title and is about the deletion of an image I sold the rights to). Anyone have any idea how to get in contact with Veer ? Maybe by writing in here ?


I mean percentagewise.
If a buyer buys 25 images a day for a month, he pays $249. If he buys images from top tier contributors only Shutterstock pays out $285-294 to its contributors, so there's a potential loss for Shutterstock. I know very well that most buyers don't use up their full subscription, but I've no idea why Shutterstock doesn't come out to reveal the average percentage they pay contributors as I suspect it's very high. They could brag about it if they wanted to.

If I were to buy a 25 a day subscription I'd probably use up 70% or more, even if I didn't "need" those images. If half of those 525 images are 25c ones and half are 38c ones Shutterstock would pay out around $165, which is 66% of what I paid for my subscription. If 25% of the images I buy are 38c and 75% are 25c, which is probably more realistic, that's a payout of $148 - an average commission of 59%.

So without knowing buyer habits, we can never know the exact percentage, but I'd like to hear some thoughts and estimates. What do you think is the average commission on Shutterstock ? With ELs and ODDs taken into consideration, I think the average percentage is somewhere between 40%-50%

Off Topic / Way Back Archive
« on: March 23, 2011, 09:07 »
Go back in time and see what the microstock agencies looked like when they launched :)
Here's an excerpt from Fotolia's main page back in 2005:

Photographer Benefits
Photographers set their own price
Fastest image review
Highest commission in the industry ( up to 80%)
International sales in 4 languages
100% of uploaded images are online and generate revenue

Some of a deal you had back then. I started in late 2008, so I never knew this side of Fotolia. Here's the link:

I was recently surprised to learn that ClipartOf accept EPS10 illustrations, I thought it was only Shutterstock. Apparently Fotolia does too, so I might have missed a few announcements! Are there any other agencies, and can we do a list?

How about Graphic Leftovers, Dreamstime, CanStock, iStockPhoto, BigStock, 123rf etc. ?


Graphic Leftovers

Software - General / Software for storing and organizing images?
« on: November 15, 2010, 13:28 »

I'd like to know if there are any good (preferrably free) programs out there that will allow me to keyword and categorize my images?
I have a lot of snapshots of all sorts of events/places/people/animals and would like to be able to quickly search and retrieve images for inspiration for my vectors.
I have Adobe Bridge CS3, but not sure if it will let me search and customize categories and keywords? Are there better options out there?

Thanks  :)

General Stock Discussion / Would this work?
« on: September 10, 2010, 04:52 »
With the all the turmoil going on at the IS forums these days, one thing is clear to me: Nobody, or at least very few, believes that a company that distributes images need an average of 75%-85% per sale to be profitable. This is why the discussion at IS continues, and people won't calm. It's simply beyond imagination. I've read so many intelligent statements from contributors that I would never be able to phrase myself, but this is clear, many people refuse to adapt.

To prevent things like these happening in the future, how would people feel like signing some sort of a "contract" that ensured they would not work with new agencies offering a commission lower than a certain percentage? Note that this would not affect the agencies you're currently submitting to but is a guarantee that you're requirements are met by upcoming agencies.

Knowing that we would then have to agree on a percentage we could have for instance three levels, 30%, 40% and 50% (I would probably sign up for 40% or 50%).

All of our names would be put on a list on the web and if enough of us were listed, the new agencies will have to meet certain requirements to do business with some of us.

Perhaps it could have a clause that required the agency to fix the percentage in the contract so it wouldn't be lowered in the future.

This could be the beginning of something bigger as I don't believe we can agree on a coop or a union. Maybe this could be the beginning of more involvement in the business from the contributors. We've never demanded anything from new agencies, maybe we're ready for that?

I know Yuri doesn't go for anything below 40%, if we could get him to sign that would be a good start.

If you think this idea is stupid, please let me know why. I'm just desperately trying to do something to change the microstock world in favour of the contributing artists.

General Stock Discussion / Can they use my images like this?
« on: February 11, 2010, 07:42 »

Yesterday I noticed that some emoticons I made are appearing in an iPhone app that is for sale at the Apple Appstore. I have a good feeling that all these were bought from Fotolia a couple of days ago, as they were all downloaded simultaneously and is available in that specific app I'm referring to, just the next day. I can say for sure that these emoticons, regardless of which agency the licenses was bought from, have been downloaded with standard licenses as none of them have ever been bought with an extended license.

Some details about the app: It allows you to attach an emoticon (all bought from microstock agencies apparently) to a status update, then post it on Facebook.
The reason why it really upsets me is that I'm currently working with another company who has invested a lot of money into getting me to draw custom emoticons for the very same kind of application (this app came first, by the way). For the ones that I'm having for sales on the agencies, I have personally given this company I work with my word (and a written contract) that allows them to use the emoticons in such a way that they can be reproduced or "posted" on Facebook by its customers.

I have a great interest in figuring out if the copycat app can actually use my images in this way with a simple standard license from Fotolia. Does any agency allow this? Not only do they now use some of the same content as the app I work for, they are also calling it the same.

I'm planning on contacting the developers, but need to know which approach I can allow myself to have to this matter. If a standard license doesn't allow this kind of usage, I'm going to ask them to remove the images from their app. If, however, it turns out to be perfectly legit, I have to try to sort this out with them in another way.

I think the information can be found here: , but I simply don't know how to interpret this lawyer language as English isn't my native language, and I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what terms such as "resale" actually covers.

Thanks for your help


New Sites - General / ClipDealer, anyone?
« on: November 25, 2009, 07:32 »
Has anyone heard of a microstock site called ClipDealer?

I'm interested because I consider contributing my vector illustrations to them, but doing a quick search I don't think they have been discussed in here before.

They seem to have an okay deal: 50% and vector prices at 9,9 EUR

And no, I am not associated with them in any way, just curious; Any sales, any views? Worth giving a shot?


14 / PantherMedia and microstock images
« on: August 13, 2009, 05:29 »
Do PantherMedia accept microstock images? If yes, what justifies the higher prices for M-XXXXL sizes than most other agencies? My conscience does not allow me to contribute to sites with such significantly higher prices, when the same images are for sale for much less on other sites - unless there is a difference in the licensing terms or the general service. For instance; on ClipartOf, my prices are higher than usually ($15-$80), but this is due to giving the buyer the right to use my images commercially so I can justify it by that. Is it the same with PM ?

Their large list of stock distributors (apparently including Zymmetrical) certainly does look appealing

I set up an account with FeaturePics and was just about to submit my portfolio (sales or not, I wanted to support them for the 70% contributor commission)

What stopped me from doing this was this statement in their contributor agreement:

You can request to delete Image(s) any time. It can be actually deleted in 90 days.

...Which means that if I put up my portfolio at FP and sell another SR-EL on Dreamstime, I will be breaking the law by not being able to take down my own images within 78 hours or so.

Is this the case? Are there no "delete"-button by the images that you upload?

Thomas Amby

General - Top Sites / Alexa traffic ranks
« on: April 08, 2009, 07:44 »
Let's discuss traffic on the biggest agencies.

I tried to compare the traffic of the five biggest agencies on Alexa and I got this:

This is quite surprising to me, as Stockxpert, which seemingly has significantly less traffic than all of the rest, makes up 19,5 % of my microstock income. Are they about to die?

iStockPhoto had a big decline in July 2008, which I think is kind of okay. This might force them to treat contributors better to stay competitive. I have only been in this business since September 2008, so I have no idea why iStock had this decline - does anyone know?

Feel free to comment on any of this

Thomas Amby

17 / Has Dreamstime removed Payoneer option?
« on: March 26, 2009, 08:00 »
Has Dreamstime removed their option to cash directly to Payoneer debit cards?

I want to order a Dreamstime debit card, but whenever I go to "request payment" and click on the "login/register at Payoneer"-link, I get a 404-error and I am redirected to their front page. I have tried only yesterday and today.

Also on Payoneer's homepage, the Dreamstime debit card is not listed.

How can I order a card? Did they removed this option? Did I miss something?

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