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easy colour removal from "painted" images


New Member
A good friend of mine who is a self-published author has had some pictures created for one of his children's books, however the artist has painted the images with colour, and is now asking a fortune to provide blank (outline copies). I have been approached to remove the colour and provide outline images. Normally, if these were vector images or photos I would not have posted on here, however as they are painted images and therefore have different levels of colour within the same area on the image, I am having some difficulty cleaning up the images, does anyone have some tips for achieving this, that will not take too long to accomplish. There are about a dozen images to complete, some of which are more detailed than others... I have attached one of the images as an example...



I hate to be the Grinch who stole Christmas yet unless there was a works made for hire contract where the artist gave up all ownership rights to the work, then the artist owns the copyright whether it is with color or not. That is true if the work is registered or not and use of such work or derivatives of such work without given the right to do so, is a copyright violation and puts the person using the work at a good amount of legal risk.

Personally, I think you should steer clear of using another persons work except as is allowed under a signed contract. Doing otherwise could impact both your pocket book and your reputation. If someone used my works without permission in a product in any fashion, I would take them to court.

Just my opinion of course.


Staff member
Ok, this was my fault for not noticing this earlier. This was posted in the wrong forum and I have now moved it to the appropriate forum. This is a request for help and not a request for free editing.

@Eggy, Since this was in the free edit forum at the time you read this thread, your reply is understood. For the rest of us, it's certainly OK to show your results, but please take the time to explain your process so that the OP can benefit.

Here at PSG, we try not to take a hard stand on copyright matters. What is done with copyrighted material outside this forum is strictly the sole responsibility of the original poster. However, when dealing with any material that is considered to be copyrighted, we leave it to individual discretion of our members to determine if they wish to complete an edit or offer any advice or suggestions as to how said copyrighted materials could be altered or changed from it's original state.

Please keep any and all comments about copyright courteous and respectful just as thebestcpu did.


Counter Argument on the images (without seeing any contract drawn)

Most of the time you pay for an image to be made which is exclusive to you, and within the transaction it becomes the Purchasers image to do what they like with. This is because you have paid someone to make something for you.

You do not pay a decorator to come paint your front room and he then specifies you can not hang any pictures on the wall as that will be altering his work......

On the other side some artist work for free but state they get a percentage of money made on the sale of the product which in that case the Artist can by all means claim all copyright and enforce no editing unless a buy license is purchased.

Some Artist use what is called home Stock/ fill stock Ie website designers that own images self created or purchased etc which they will pre fill a poster/ project/ website with as place markers for content or just to show the site populated, you do not normally have the rights to use these images long term. This is similar to lorem epsum text.

That said as I have always said we are not the internet police all responsibility falls on the OP and they are only asking on how to do it not for it to be done, we can teach techniques even illegal 1s and put it as for learning purpose only.

on the opposite side to that argument how would you feel if that was your income someone approached you asked for a specific item and then changed their mind the artist has every right to say hey thats not what you asked for I can do it but I will need to charge you extra.

but on the other side most popular decent digital artists do save layers so it would be 2 mins just to switch off the colour layers and should easily supply them. Of course if it is hand drawn then it would need to be redone so rightfully so charge again.

But should be easy to trace either way and go over with a thicker fineliner.


Retired Moderator
Ok, bear in mind that English is not my native language (not an excuse).

I've read 'the author has created some pictures...' while it was'the author has had some pictures created...', my mistake.

It is obvious the drawings were handmade and I thought the commissioned artist colored them with a non satisfactory result for the client wanting his drawings back originally ending with a dispute about the extra fee.

In no way I had in mind infringing the copyright, let that be clear.

As an artist it is already hard enough to make a living.

I'll be more careful when reading requests...

Tom Mann

Hoogle -

Re your statement: "...Most of the time you pay for an image to be made which is exclusive to you, and within the transaction it becomes the Purchasers image to do what they like with. This is because you have paid someone to make something for you. ..."

It simply is not correct here in the USA. Perhaps copyright laws are different in your area.

In the USA, the statements that "TheBestCPU" made in an earlier post in this thread are exactly correct. In the USA, unless the contract specifically states that the copyright will be assigned to the person commissioning the work, the copyright remains with the creator, no matter how much has been paid. That is what "TheBestCPU" meant when he used the US legal term, "work for hire" and stated that the contract must be of that type for the copyright to transfer to the buyer.

Standard wedding photography, school yearbook and sports team shots, etc. etc. all fall under this rule in the USA.

There have been many instances where couples have thought the way you do, scanned the proofs supplied by their wedding photographer, and made their own copies or posted digitized versions to be available to their friends. If the situation has proceeded to litigation, US courts have never held in favor of the couple. I suppose the reason for this approach is that it protected one of the classic revenue streams of photographers and artists: making and selling multiple copies (eg, prints) of their work.

Tom M


I think your confusing what I said

Most of the time you pay for an image to be made which is exclusive to you.

Meaning you buy the image outright with a license to do with it what you like. THis is the norm for high end production and corporate work.

Where as Hire someone for work means you hire someone to do the job and you can use the work subject to their copyright and licensing, This is the misconception of people hiring photographers etc. They take photos and give you copies normally x amount with the option to purchase more for your sole usage etc. The images still belong to the photographer under copyright unless specifically stated in a contract.

Same goes for art work there are hundreds of variations, commission someone to work for you where basically they become your employee so anything they create is by extension yours as they are working for you.

other variations also include the image is yours to do what you like with as long as you credit the original artist, ie artwork done by Hoogle, or based upon original artwork by Hoogle


Here is your image credit me, pay me to use it but if you want to change or have alterations done to it then it can only be done by me etc

As I said though without seeing the contract then it is hard to see what real legality issues may come about here.

I have worked in teams on high end level and have learnt the normal is if your spending a lot of money for a high profile project you normally have buy out contracts.

FOr example Apple can pay me to design a new logo for them I guarantee that the contract will state that apple will own all rights to the image, trademark it and can use it however they see fit. They will also probably make you sign a secrecy contract which makes you forfeit any right to the logo or even telling anyone you designed it, SO to the rest of the world apples logo was designed by Apple no 3rd party.
Just my .02¢.

If the art shown is the style your friend wanted, then so be it.

If it were me, I would probably hire someone new to get better art done with a stipulation that I wanted both outline drawings and filled, colored art.