Making my own deck - Questions


I'm planning to make my own deck, based on a serie of videogames. Can I use screenshots I take from the game without problems? I'm planning to use the tarot deck for personal purposes and also probably putting it on my website for fans to see it and use it for personal purposes as well. Is that doable?


Any artwork or creation done by another person belongs to them or the people they did the work for, and you have to ask permission. This includes still shots taken off your tv by camera, of tv shows. anything written & published (books), any music on tape, video or records, and, unfortunately, video tape. The tape WILL have a copyright symbol and year it was copyrighted, plus who it was copyrited to, right on the video.

For your own use, usually it's not a problem, but your putting it up into the general public's domain (on the internet) is definately against the law & could get them coming after you. Disney actively looks for people who use their characters and titles, Paramount did it from day 1 with all Star Trek stuff, and the Green Bay Packers football team does it too, so don't think that nobody looks.

If you want to put stuff up online, contact the owners of the copyright & ask if it's ok. They'll either tell you yes or no. If you don't hear from them, you haven't reached the right person to ask, silence isn't a 'yes'. Others can turn you in too (I made 6 Hobbes dolls once, sold 4 of them at a small science fiction show & got a letter from a law firm representing the artist of Calvin & Hobbes within 3 weeks that was pretty angry.)

You don't have to 'sell' something to be in violation of a copyright. Just having it up on your site will get you in the wrong.

Any way you can do your own drawings, with your own characters for the deck? You can't base it on the videogames, unfortunately, if you based things on Disney's Mickey Mouse & it was recognisable as such, they'd still come after you. The 10% change rule is a falacy about copyright.


Anyone who reads this question is going to caution you against using somebody else's work and presenting as your own.
That being said, it *is* possible to so change, so modify your source material that it indeed *becomes* your own. I guess you're going to have to be the judge of how far you've changed your source images into your own vision for the tarot. In music, it would be called sampling, and there have been rules worked out for exactly what's allowable and what's not.

What you're describing seems like a neat idea, in many ways. I'd love to see a 'Videogame Tarot'! The look of videogames is so distinctive and so right now, that pouring the tarot into that pixel-based mold would be both beautiful and useful, if done well.


HudsonGray said it all. But (and it's a large but), there's a chance that if all the videogames are by one manufacturer, you might not only be able to get permission, you might get help selling the durn thing, if you're planning on doing a professional job of it.

This is not one to go after unless you're thinking of SERIOUS work, but if you are, and the manufacturer doesn't have any problems with the idea of Tarot, then you're offering a potential cross-market product that might very well make them money. You might not only get permission, but original artwork to play with.


Right, there is the off chance they'd jump at the idea, sending them a sample card of your work would be a good idea so they know what your style looks like.

Changing the existing art to make it your own takes a good eye. If someone looks at it and says 'oh, that's Pokeymon' or 'oh, that's Lara Croft' or 'oh, that's a Heavy Metal image', then you didn't change it enough. It needs to be different enough not to trigger a specific identity or name to existing games.

The video field is a good idea, I'd say run with it, if you can work out your own style & not copy another artist. They make their living on their work, so they don't look too kindly at someone passing a derivitive (sp) off that's too close to the original of theirs. Do your own images & you'll be completely in the clear.


I'm terrible at art, I don't want to draw or anything. I just want to play the games on my computer and take screenshots while I play. Then, I would take the shots from the games that would fit the cards meaning and arrange them with my computer (Paint Shop Pro) to make cards one by one. I already have an idea for the back design. The games in questions are from the same series and from the same company.

So, I have the right to do what I just said if it is only for personal purposes and don't show it to anyone. But, if I want to show it, I must contact the company and ask for rights. And if I have done a good job, I could send samples. Right?


That sounds about right. They're only concerned where the images are out in the public without their say-so, if money is being made off it by someone that basically 'stole' the images, or was using them in a way that would give the company and artists some very bad PR, those are the big three they always worry about.

For your own use, they're fine. Nobody gets hurt, nobody is out the cash, nobody has copyright violation, the artists don't mind one person having them, and it isn't taking sales away from the company or the art staff.

But no making copies for other friends, that falls into the realm of distributing copyrighted art & that'll get you trouble.

You know that there's copyright free art, right? Things out in the public domain that are free to use any way you want? I'm not sure about video images, I think they're too new, but older art definately is available in a wide variety of stuff. Dover Publications has a ton of books of the copyright free stuff that can be scanned in & made into tarot.


Thanks for all these advices! Yes, I know that there are copyright free images, I've seen some of them, to use them as wallpapers, but I'm more interested about the games in questions. I can't help but think about tarot about these games, I can easily view many of the characters as major arcana; completing the set (78 cards) would take me some time, but I think it is doable. I know how the back design is going to be. Frankly, I'm surprised how easy the games fit as a tarot. And well, I would like that to make it and use it. Thanks again.