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Must Read: The Ultimate TDA Rule GuidebookREAD IT OR REGRET IT! [last updated 1.13.2012]

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#1 OMG!



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Posted 24 June 2010 - 12:40 AM

Hello, and welcome to The Dark Arts! We, the mods, hope that you'll enjoy your time here, whether you just came here to request or whether you came here to improve your graphic skills. To make your time (and ours) as smooth as possible, here is a general guideline to the sections and the rules that you should abide by in each section. These rules may be changed at any time, so please look back here occasionally and make sure you're familiar with all of them. Most of them are just common sense, so it really shouldn't be that difficult. style_emoticons/default/wink.gif

Table of Contents
--Common Sense Rules*
--Requesting Arena Rules*
----Requesters in the Requesting Arena*
----Artists in the Requesting Arena
--Up For Grabs Rules
--Critique Corner Rules
--Off-Topic Area Rules
--How do I become an artist?
----How do I get promoted?
--Graphics Challenges Rules
--Tutorial Central Rules
--Rule Breaking
--Changes Log

*Pay special attention to these rules if you're here to request something.
Common Sense Rules
Current Administrators: Mercury, ForgottenFace, Crowley
Click here for links to PM them.
Current Staff Moderators: Click here for a list of their names and links to PM them.
These rules apply to the entire forum. Since many of these rules are the most serious ones here at TDA, breaking them can lead to warnings or even bans.
  • You may have only one account per person. For more information on this, click +here. People found in violation of this rule will have all of their accounts banned.
  • Do not reveal personal information. Telling people that your name is Samantha and you're sixteen is fine, but telling them you live on 5555 Fairy Tale Rd at Nowheresville, Texas is not cool (that means NO facebook, myspace, tumblr, twitter, or other similar social networking sites, on this forum even if they don't contain that information. We don't have the time nor the inclination to check each link to make sure they comply with the rules, so they're banned altogether). Posting pictures of yourself, your friends, your house, etc. is not cool. Posting links to places that have that information is not cool either. This is for the safety of all of our members. It'd be a shame if some creepy pedophile webstalker hunted someone down using information found on this site, and we want to do everything to prevent that. Click +here for more on personal information.
  • Do not post anything that is sexually explicit, graphically violent, or offensive to any gender, ethnicity, race, creed, religion, lifestyle, etc. For more information on what is considered acceptable here at TDA, click +here, and +here.
  • TDA is a 15+ site, so our rules are a little more lax than HPFF's (HPFF is a 12+ site). However, everything you post should be safe for work, and do keep in mind that there are people on this site who are younger than fifteen. See the links above for what is appropriate and what is not here at TDA.
  • Be respectful of all members. Harassment of anyone, no matter the circumstances, will not be tolerated and will result in a permanent ban.
  • Leave the enforcing of the rules to the mods. We're mods for a reason. If you notice someone breaking a rule, report it to either a staff mod or the appropriate section mod(s), and they will deal with the situation appropriately.
  • If you feel, for whatever reason, that a mod has dealt with a situation inappropriately, do not post about it to complain. That's whining. What you can do is PM a staff mod, respectfully describing the situation in a non-biased way, and we will review the situation. Do this only if you have a legitimate complaint. Whiners will not be tolerated.
  • Do not attempt to circumvent the rules. We don't like people who try to be too clever. Think of us as benevolent dictators. Mods aren't all divorce attorneys, so there's bound be at least some exploitable loopholes in the rules. However, the spirit of the rules should be obvious, and anyone found in violation of that will be dealt with accordingly.
  • The total images in your signatures may not exceed 500x200 pixels. The total text in your signatures may not exceed 500x100 pixels. Do not include links to tumblr, we<3it or sites that contain personal information. That means the maximum size of your signature is 500x200 pixels. Signatures are a privilege, so treat it as such. For more information on signature rules, click +here and +here and +here. Okay, so maybe that's not so much common sense as a specific forum thing, but make sure you know this rule anyways! People found in violation of this rule will have their signatures removed and will be used as human sacrifices for the graphics gods.
  • You are expected to know the rules before you post. We make some limited allowances for new members (depending on how annoying their violations are :P), but it's really not all that hard to read the stickies at the top of each section. We try to make the rules as concise and easy to understand as possible, but if you ever have a question about any of the rules, please feel free to PM a moderator, who will clear it up as soon as possible.
  • Do not spam. What is spam? Spam can be many things. Three-word posts, posts that have nothing to add to the conversation, and excessive bumping of a thread all count as spam. Don't do it, or we'll get really annoyed at you.
  • Do not use another artist's artwork without their permission. Do not alter another artist's artwork-- if you would like changes, ask the original artist to make them. What does this mean? Don't randomly go to an artist's gallery, see a nice banner, and be like HEY THIS IS NICE I'LL USE IT. Don't take parts of other artists' banner(s) and use them in your own to make your own banners look better. Don't go around claiming credit for a graphic you didn't make. Do not repost an artist's graphics on another site without their express permission. Don't decide you'd rather have a B&W banner instead of a colored one and change it-- PM the artist to ask them to change it. People who rip graphics will be blacklisted not only on TDA, but on many other major graphics forums such as RCR, etc. Just don't do it. It's not worth it.
  • Building on the previous rule, do not use copyright images in your graphics or in your requests unless you have the explicit written permission of the creator. What does this mean? Pictures from deviantart, flickr, weheartit, and other such sites may be copyright, meaning they can't be reused without the artist's permission. If you're not sure, then it's better not to use it. The way we feel when our graphics get ripped is the way photographers feel when they see their photos being used and altered, with no credit given to them. As such, TDA is compiling a list of copyright-free images. In the meantime, this means we have to do some extra searching. SweetAndTalented and sxc.hu are great starting places for HQ images that are not copyright. For more information on TDA's copyright rules, click +here.
Requesting Arena Rules
Current Requesting Arena Moderators: !badwolf, 365kate., impossible girl, medusa
Click here for links to PM them.
Requesters in the Requesting Arena
Many people come to TDA to request banners for their HPFF stories. If you are one of these members, read the rules below carefully to make sure your request gets filled as quickly and painlessly as possible. Requests take effort on the part of the requester as well as the artist filling the request. (For a more detailed version of the rules, click +here.)
  • Your story must have at least one validated chapter to get a banner. This goes for everyone. We don't care if you've been a trusted member ever since TDA's beginning days or if you're a new one, stories that have not been validated yet will not get a banner. This is because we don't want to waste an artist's time making a banner for a story that might not even get approved anyways (yes, this applies to trusted authors as well).
  • If you have a previous banner, make sure you get the artist's permission to change the banner. Artists almost never say no, but it's still polite. However, someone who requests a new banner every week will be warned, since that disrespects the time and effort (often several hours) that the artist put into making the banner.
  • FILL OUT THE FORM AND PUT IT IN YOUR REQUEST. The form varies slightly from area to area, but it will always be posted at the top of the forum. Any request that does not have the form will be automatically graveyarded.
  • If your request does not get filled immediately, you can bump it 72 hours after you first posted the request. 72 hours means three days. People seem to have trouble with this rule for some reason. This is the only circumstance in which double-posting is allowed at TDA. Requesters who constantly bump too often, despite verbal warnings from moderators, will be warned.
    • HINT: Often, the reason why requests don't get filled is because the requester supplied low-quality images. Artists are a picky lot, and it makes it unnecessarily difficult to work with tiny thumbnail sized images when there are plenty of other, easier requests floating around. As a general guideline, provide images that are 500px or more on either side. Make sure they aren't cut at awkward positions, like pictures that cut off chins, shoulders, etc. Also, don't provide black-and-white images unless you want a black-and-white banner; it's insanely difficult to make a good-looking colorful banner using a black and white image. For more information on where to find good images, click +here.
  • HPFF is a 12+ site, so be mindful of the images you use. What does this mean? No nudity, not even partial. No graphic violence or weapons. No language, not even mild. No drugs (including cigarettes), no alcohol. If you're unsure about whether something would be allowed, it's better just to leave it out than to risk having the banner taken down. Anything you don't want your little cousin to see, we don't want to see either.
  • Be respectful to the artist. Think of what they're doing. They're volunteering to give up their own valuable free time during which they could be doing plenty of productive things (finishing homework, spending time with their family, curing cancer, etc.) to make you a banner. That's right, you. As such, always make sure to credit them in your summary, or the HPFF staff will take appropriate action. We follow that really carefully. Also, while we allow requesters to ask for slight changes on the finished product, don't go asking for fifteen billion changes just because you happened to be too vague in your request.
  • Remember to rehost banners. For information on how to rehost images and what hosting even means, click +here.
  • If three days have passed and the artist still has not posted up your banner, feel free to send them a politely worded reminder. Don't be threatening or harassing. Sometimes things come up, and artists need longer to fill a request. As long as three days have passed, you don't need permission from a moderator to send the artist a reminder.
  • At one time, you may only have one request open in each section max. Requesters found in violation of this rule will be warned, and their most recent request will be graveyarded. The only two ways in which a requester can request multiple banners at a time is if they 1) have a trilogy or series of stories, and would like their banners to be matching, or 2) want their banners to be made by the same artist.
Artists in the Requesting Arena
It can be flattering to fill a request. However, some people get too overzealous, so here are some rules instituted on the artists as well.
  • Only Junior+ artists can fill requests in the regular requesting arena. That means that member artists can't fill requests in the regular requesting arena. They can only fill requests in the Member Requests area or the Specific Artists requests (if they are specifically requested). Why is this? TDA holds itself to a certain standard of work. Artists that have been promoted to Junior or higher or those that the admins have looked over and decided are skilled enough to fill requests.
  • This previous rule seems to be the rule that gets circumvented most often. When we say only Junior+ artists can fill requests, we mean it. That means that posts or PMs asking a requester to move their request to the Member Requests section, or making a banner "for practice" and offering it to the requester "just in case you decide to use it" is against the rules. Remember what I said about mods disliking it when people try to get around the rules? Yeah. Members found attempting to do this will be warned. This may seem elitist, but really it's for the best: it gives members something to strive for, as well as maintaining the quality of TDA's work. For more information on this, click +here.
  • So then, how do I become a junior?
    Scroll down to "How do I become an artist?" to find out how to post a gallery and how to get promoted.

    But I'm amazing! Really!! I know I just joined, but I should totally be allowed to fill requests!
    Great. If you're that amazing, all you have to do is wait until the beginning of next month, when promotions are, and then you'll see if you're as amazing as you think you are. style_emoticons/default/wink.gif
Up For Grabs Rules
Current Up For Grabs Moderators: .amaris, Azulive, halycon., rebel_heart
Click here for links to PM them.
Before you go to the Requesting Arena, you might want to look around in the UFG section. This section features pre-made graphics (mostly banners) that artists have offered to give to requesters, in exchange for credit. However, the only changes that may be requested here are adding text, such as the title, a quote, and a penname. The artist is not required to agree to anything further, though many artists may offer to make minor changes. In most cases though, what you see is what you get. For a complete walkthrough through the UFG section, click +here.
  • Artists of any rank, including Member Artists, may post a topic containing UFG graphics here. However, graphics must be posted in the appropriate section.
  • The topic title must include a short description of the graphic(s) contained within and the artist's current rank.
  • Artists may not bump their threads, harass anyone to claim their graphics, or have more than one thread per subforum.
  • To claim a UFG graphic, you must fill out the form +here (usually included at the top of all topics). The artist will respond within a few days with the finalized product.
    • Unlike in the Requesting Arena, in the UFG area you can request that the artist "hold" your banner for several days until your story gets validated. Once it has been validated, just send the artist a link with the validated chapter, and the artist can finish the banner for you. The artist cannot start working on the banner until after you have sent the link with the validated chapter to them.
  • As in the Requesting Arena, the artist must be credited with making the banner. They are still giving up their free time for you, and that is a courtesy that should be respected.
  • If three days have passed and the artist still has not posted up your banner, feel free to send them a politely worded reminder. Don't be threatening or harassing. Sometimes things come up, and artists need longer to fill a request. As long as three days have passed, you don't need permission from a moderator to send the artist a reminder.
Critique Corner Rules
Current Critique Corner Moderators: comet, abeille.reveuse
Click here for links to PM them.
The Critique Corner is one of the most active sections on TDA. It is a place where artists can offer their graphics up for critique and get valuable feedback and tips from others. It really is an invaluable resource, one that should be used as much as possible. To maintain TDA's comfortable and friendly atmosphere, here are a few rules that should be followed.
  • Keep your critique respectful. A graphic you think doesn't look that great might have been a graphic that took the artist hours and hours to make, and you need to respect that. TDA isn't a professional site; it's a site where people who happen to have similar hobbies can find a supportive and amazing network of friends. Temper any critique with positives; for example: "You should blend her hair more carefully, but the coloring on this is wonderful." And whenever you critique, make sure it's something specific that the artist can improve, and not something like, "I hate black and white. Change the sig to color" or "The blending sucks." Rather, say something like, "I think the sig would be more cohesive if you changed it back to color-- do you still have to original base?" or "Try not to have halos around your people. Instead, use a hard brush to erase the edges." See the difference? The second statements are much more respectful and kind and point out specific things the artist can improve on, whereas the first statements are either unhelpful or hurtful. For more information on how to write helpful critique, click +here.
  • Be watchful of how many critique threads you have open. The current limit is two threads open per area (i.e., two for story graphics, two for signatures/icons, etc.)..
  • Always read all of the pinned topics at the top of each section. It is always best to be familiar with the rules. The Critique Corner is one of the most heavily moderated sections of TDA, simply because it has the unfortunate ability to bring out the rudest in some people. Remember guys, hurtful language is not cool.
Off-Topic Area Rules
Current Off-Topic Moderators: Lady Took, our sea star
Click here for links to PM them.
The Off-Topic Area is a place where you can kick back and relax, meet your fellow TDA members, and just have fun. However, there are some rules associated with this area to prevent TDA from becoming a mess of spam and evilness. For a more specific review of the rules, click +here.
  • As mentioned in the Forum Rules, do not post anything that is sexually explicit, graphically violent, or offensive to any gender, ethnicity, race, creed, religion, lifestyle, etc. If you do so, your topic will be deleted, and you will be warned. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, the violator's posts may even be set to moderator preview, meaning that anything (s)he writes will have to be approved by a moderator before the rest of TDA can see it.
  • Don't spam. Just because it's off-topic doesn't mean you can spam. Make sure your posts add to the conversation.
  • Do not reveal any personal information. Polls asking things like which state you live in are fine, but anything more specific and the thread will be taken down.
  • Keep everything appropriate. Remember, TDA is work-friendly, meaning cussing, nudity, etc. are out. Click +here, and +here for what is appropriate and what is not.
  • This is a comparatively minor rule, but for some reason people keep forgetting it, so we're making a special mention of it here. Make sure to add spoiler tags to your post if it contains any spoilers. It's tedious and boring for moderators to have to go through posts and add in spoiler tags, and they shouldn't have to do it. For more information on how to add spoiler tags, click +here.
  • Be sure to read the first post of each thread since they often detail the rules, especially in the Forum Games section. The first post often includes important information, like how many times you can post in that game each day and how to play the game. Click +here for more information on Forum Games.
How do I become an artist?
TDA always welcomes new artists! It's always wonderful to see new people enter the world of graphics and improve. We'd be glad to have you, and there are just a few rules you should follow before you post that first gallery. style_emoticons/default/happy2.gif
  • Post your gallery +here. No matter what the quality of your work is, all new galleries must be posted in the Member Artists section, where they will be reviewed at a later time by the admins to decide who gets promoted.
  • Once you post a gallery, it will not be immediately visible. An admin must first review the gallery and make sure it's appropriate (basically, if it adheres to TDA's rules on nudity, obscenity, etc.). Once your gallery has been approved, your status will be changed from Member to Member Artist! Member Artists can enter challenges and fill Member Requests.
  • Make sure to include the date of your last gallery update somewhere in the topic title.
Great... so how do I get promoted!?!?
Promotions take place at the beginning of each month and are one of the most anticipated events at TDA. However, there's really no easy answer to that question. For a description of each of the ranks and what the admins look for when deciding whether or not to promote people, click +here. For tips on what to put in your gallery to tip the scales in your favor, click +here. You get promoted based on skill, not on activity or how helpful you've been around the site (though of course people who have consistently shown that they are argumentative, untrustworthy, or disrespectful will get promotions-blacklisted). And the only way to improve is to practice, practice, practice! Make the most use possible of the Critique Corner and the Tutorial Section. In the meantime, here's a brief list of the ranks. You can find a more detailed description +here.
  • Members - when you first join this site, this is your first member grouping, regardless of whether you are a requester or an artist.
  • Member Artists - members who have posted a gallery are automatically sorted into the Member Artist ranking.
  • Junior Artists - these are artists who have displayed consistent skill in making banners. They can now fill regular requests.
  • Senior Artists - this is the next highest rank, after Junior Artists. Senior Artists have displayed a mastery of basic skills and are developing their own style.
  • Graduate Artists - this is the second-highest rank. Only Staff Artists rank higher. Graduate Artists have displayed a mastery of basic skills, a solid style, and a near-mastery of secondary skills, and all they need is a last little push to become a Staff Artist.
  • Staff Artists - these artists have consistently displayed graphic excellence. They have mastered basic and secondary skills, and they have their own distinctive style. Some Staff Artists are Staff Moderators, meaning they moderate the entire forum. You can tell by the fact that they are a darker pink and are called Staff Moderators, not Staff Artists.
Graphics Challenges (Duelling Arena) Rules
Current Graphics Challenges Moderators: calico, clowder, moonlace, Slytherinchica08
Click here for links to PM them.
Graphic challenges seek to challenge artists to their fullest potential. They allow artists to compete against each other and help each other improve. For the complete rules on graphics challenges, click +here, and +here. Click HERE for YBW rules.
  • Member artists and above may enter challenges. Additionally, there is a separate section for Member Artist challenges, where Member Artists compete only against each other.
  • You must include your image code with the challenge entry. A detailed explanation is located +here.
  • It is easy to use tutorials. They often make it easier to make a "better" graphic, in a purely technical sense. Tutorials often teach lots of neat little hints and tricks, and it's always great to use those. However, any graphic that uses any part of a tutorial will be considered as cheating. Challenges are to showcase your own work, not others'. That means copying the coloring/base/etc. in a tutorial for use in a challenge will result in disqualification. The mods are fairly familiar with all of the tutorials on TDA and elsewhere, meaning that violators will be caught. Please don't get banned over a challenge entry. 
Tutorial Central Rules
Current Tutorial Central (Resource) Moderators: merveilleux., Mintleaf
Click here for links to PM them.
Tutorial Central is where artists in need of advice can ask questions about certain techniques, problems they're having with their graphics program, etc. It is an invaluable resource that, when used appropriately, can yield much useful knowledge.
  • If you have a question about your graphics program, post +here. Do not post anywhere else. Also, when posting a question, make sure to follow the guidelines outlined +here.
  • Currently, tutorials in the Make This! may only be posted by Junior+ artists.
  • Due to the shortage of Technique Tutorials, Member Artists are allowed to post Technique Tutorials. Post your tutorial +here, and remember to also fill out the form found at the top of that thread.
  • For more information on tutorials, read the stickies at the top of each section. They also have helpful links to basic tutorials to help get beginners started.
Rule Breaking
Unfortunately, it happens. People are stupid or careless or just don't know better, and they happen to break a rule. The moderators will try to deal with the situation as peacefully as possible, but here's an overview of what happens if someone breaks a rule.
  • First Infraction - warning from a moderator, either posted in the thread or sent over PM.
  • Second Infraction (for the same rule) - strict warning from an admin or a staff mod, sent over PM.
  • Third Infraction (for the same rule) - warn count is increased by 10%.
  • Fourth Infraction (for the same rule) - consequences vary based on the severity/type of rule that was broken, but they may be one (or more) of the following:
    • Promotions blacklist, if the violator is an artist (meaning the violator will not be promoted for six months, despite the quality of their graphics)
    • Demotion for minor ripping (if the violator is an artist)
    • Suspension for seven days
    • Posts set on moderator preview (meaning the violator's posts must be approved by a mod before the rest of TDA can see them)
  • Fifth Infraction (for the same rule) - temporary/permanent ban
Remember, this is not set in stone! Depending on the severity of the incident(s), moderators may skip several steps or choose not enforce others. For instance, if someone is caught ripping graphics, they will immediately be put on the promotions blacklist, demoted, and probably even banned, without any courteous warnings from moderators. On the other hand, if someone double posts incessantly, they will first be warned, then their warn count will be increased, but they would hardly be banned for such a comparatively small infraction. This is just a guideline of the progression of events. Many of these infractions must be judged on a case-by-case basis, allowing for some subjectivity in the punishments, so keep that in mind.
All this talk about rules may be intimidating. However, we at TDA are genuinely very nice people, and we're glad to have you! Please don't hesitate to contact me or any of our other staff and area moderators about anything if you have any questions. Don't be afraid to go out and meet new people. We at TDA <3 noobs! style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif As long as you don't do anything too stupid, you should be fine, as most of these rules follow a basic netiquette spirit. And remember to read all the stickies in a section before you post! Nothing there should surprise you, but better safe than sorry.

If you still have any questions, please visit +here first before asking anything, since chances are your question will have been answered there already. ;) If you have any questions on what certain words refer to, click +here for definitions on certain commonplace words at TDA.

We hope you enjoy your time here at TDA!

Thanks to .asperity, .rachael, afterglow, Alohomora, BitterEpiphany, emerald_nellie, extraORDINARY, Genevieve, Pretend, SwissMiss, and Violet for their contributions to this guide.

Edited by Giola, 08 April 2014 - 02:44 AM.
removed dead link and added YBW rules link

very unavailable, sorry // chris pine & benedict cumberbatch=my husbands

#2 OMG!



  • Member
  • 3,041 posts
  • Software:Paint Shop Pro
  • Location:Galactic Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha
  • Member Since: 03 Aug 2007

Posted 17 July 2010 - 01:12 AM

Changes Log
19 Dec 2010 - updated list of moderator names
19 Dec 2010 - clarified rules on social networking sites
19 Jul 2010 - updated list of current administrators.
16 Jul 2010 - added links to the new forum "Frequently Answered Questions" and the new topic "TDA Lexicon".
12 Jul 2010 - fixed typos and awkward phrasing.
23 Jun 2010 - posted this in the Welcome section. w00t!
27 Dec 2011 - updated moderator names
13 Jan 2012 - updated broken links
18 April 2012 - updated moderator names
28 June 2012- updated broken links & added links to announced rule changes
19 April 2013 - updated moderator and admin names
30 June 2013 - added a link to YBW rules and clarified the rules regarding tutorial based graphics in challenges
8 April 2014 - updated moderator and admin names

Edited by Giola, 08 April 2014 - 02:45 AM.

very unavailable, sorry // chris pine & benedict cumberbatch=my husbands

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