Colors! 3D and our thoughts on tracing

The eagerly awaited Colors! 3D update is still in submission with Nintendo. This is the part of the process where we have no control over the timing, so we sadly can’t give you any accurate information on when it will be released. It will probably somewhere between a 2-4 weeks, but that is just our guess. We were hoping that it would be out now, but Nintendo rejected our first submission as it had a number of small problems. On the plus-side, this makes the update a little bit better, so I hope you can still be patient a tiny bit longer.

I’ve mentioned tracing in a few of my previous development post, but I’ve never really gone into details on it. Tracing is probably the single most controversial issue in Colors! 3D. Half the gallery hates traced paintings, since they get so many likes and therefore drown out a lot of original works. On the other hand, the other half very much enjoys watching 3Difed copies of popular images.

Since we don’t want to tell people what to like and what not to like, our goal is to find ways to allow both types in the gallery without making people frustrated one way of the other. But first, let’s talk about the legality of traced paintings.

Someone sent me this link on how deviantArt handles tracing. I was happy to see that this matches our own policy for how to deal with paintings that somehow use someone else’s work. To sum things up:

We can only deal with copyright takedown request if they are sent by the original artist or copyright holder. While we don’t think it’s ok to use someone else’s work without their permission (and especially not without giving credit), we can’t otherwise know if the original artist mind his/her work being used like that.

And of course, if you ever see your work being used in a way you don’t appreciate you should report it to and we will deal with it as soon as possible.

Now, let’s get back on track and talk about the good stuff. How can we make it less frustration the users who feel that tracing is bad for the gallery? Our first stab at this problem is to:
1. Make it easy for the users to see if a painting used the reference photo feature or not
2. Allow users to filter paintings that did or did not use the reference photo feature

We use the word “reference photo feature” here instead of “traced” because the only thing we can really tell if the camera/import feature was used or not. We know that some people sometimes takes a photo of something that they painted on paper and used that as a reference, but this will still have to fall under the “used reference” category as we can’t really say exactly how the feature was used. For that small group, I suspect they will mention their process in the painting description.


On the left screenshot here, you can see the small camera icon among the tools used for this painting. In this case, the icon is grayed out and you can’t tell if the reference photo feature was used or not (it was not). This is because the painting was uploaded from Colors! 3D 1.0, where it doesn’t registered this. For any painting uploaded from the new version of Colors! 3D, this icon will either be fully black, or not there at all. Hopefully that will reduce the amount of speculation if someone traced a painting or not, that we sometimes see in the comments.

The screenshot on the right might be even more interesting. This shows the new filter/sort functionality in Colors! 3D. Tapping the small button in the top right corner of the screen will bring this menu up. By default, all types of paintings will be shown, but if you want you can use this feature to view only the paintings that uses the reference feature or vice versa. This way, people who are not interested in paintings using the reference feature can easily just browse paintings that were made without using that feature. Initially the “original” version of this list will be very empty, as we will filter any painting uploaded from Colors! 3D 1.0 into the “used reference” version of the list.  Initially both the “original” and “using reference” version of this list will be empty, as it wouldn’t be fair to put paintings from Colors! 3D 1.0 in either of those categories. By the way, the same “filter” option will be used to sort paintings on “date” or on “likes” for a few other painting lists (like an artist’s gallery). I know some of you have been asking for that feature as well, so that worked out nicely.

We can’t really know if this solves the frustration around tracing in the gallery or not, but we believe this is a huge step forward. I guess we will see in a couple of weeks!

The Colors! 3D update for Nintendo 3DS will be a free update that you will be able to download from the eShop. There is no set release-date, but our best guess at this point is 2-4 weeks from now.


67 thoughts on “Colors! 3D and our thoughts on tracing

  1. Yeah, I’ve got mixed feelings about it. Sure, it can help some of the younger drawers develop their skills, but that takes away from their ability to express themself as an artist. You develop your own style of artwork, not someone elses by imitating. I figure that if you trace, then fine by me. Use it to practice. But don’t post it online and try to claim it as yours. Is that too much to ask for?
    And, I find that the ‘reference tool’ is a bit over sensitive. It doesn’t matter what is used as a ‘reference’. The system will go and mark the thing with the ‘ used reference tool’ icon. Even something as simple as a black, black background will flag the painting with that icon. That annoys me greatly since I typically use a photo of something I drew on paper as a visual reference to draw from, so I’m not constantly switching from screen to paper and smugging everything beyond recognition. But now I’ve got to worry about someone having a panic attack when they see that icon and having to listen to them screaming ‘Quit tracing’…even though it’s my own work.

  2. I personally don’t approve. What if I used a sketch I did? But I have this camera icon to become a stigma. Now people will shout “tracer” and so on just because of their ignorance (the real problem with colors! if you ask me). They can be very abrasive. Also I think it akin to getting up on a stage and showing everyone how the magician did his trick. It’s not something a true artist would do.

  3. Glad that we’ve got the update BUT i have seens others taking other peoples paintings from Colors and they put “Like the Original”, i don’t like how some users use Colors as if it was a site like Photoshop or Instagram, the worst part is how that the stolen versions tend to get more likes just like with traced work, i do use the reference feature often only to get the correct colors and to get different parts of a character accurate or to trace my own sketched work although i think this is unfair on those who are using the reference feature fairly but atleast this should solve the issue ^^

  4. (sorry for the double post >w>”)
    I forgot to say that i don’t mind if someone is tracing just to help develop their own skills then fine as long as they say that they don’t own the original image but they should still try and draw with no references or tracing to help develop their own art skills and art style.

  5. i love the gallery and i’m fine with tracing unless the person says its original. sure sure i’m 10 but i just block mature things. Havent seen a mature pic in months :D thanks colors. Even though i’m fine with tracing i dont feel like looking at it so… that filter sounds awesome! I guess the report button is cool but it might get abused.And the show reference pic idea… eh people might take nude pics of themselfs so nah

  6. I think that it’s good that you’ll be able to filter out all of tne traced stuff, but now I am a little worried for my stuff. Virtually all of my work is traced, but it’s all from sketches done on paper by myself. I just find it easier to draw the rough thing on a big sheet of paper, as opposed to my tiny 3DS, and then colour it later. I think I may have an even bigger dislike for these “tracers”, simply because they are abusing this tool that I really do find helpful when I use thix program. I don’t know, take this however you want, as a 15 year old girl mercilessly pouring her boiling cup of rage onto the expensive persian rug that is the internet, or as a there-is-still-hope-in-humanity kind of thing wow I’m off topic so I’m just going to stop right here.

  7. I am about to join colors! 3D community, but i’m concerned about one thing:
    I heard that there are people that “trace” or steal someone other’s artwork. And I mean like someone’s, who has posted into colors 3d gallery. They download it, and repost it and claim it as their own.
    Or then someone call’s your original artwork as their own ( RedCoreFusion’s case ).
    You should really implement some kind of system that recognizes reposts, like a system they used in Flipnote Hatena:
    Spin-off system assigns post that have used other posts as base, and gives them spin-off icon, shown on thumbnails. It also shows original post(s).
    Until that I have thought up a idea. While painting your picture, just write your signature somewhere and then remove it…or not. In any case, if someone playbacks stolen painting they can see your signature there briefly. This works as evidence.

    But I ask, is there way to report stolen artwork or do I contact moderators ( There was Email somewhere here in admin’s post. )

    Sorry for long comment, but I’m looking for answers.

  8. @someone, We have a system in-place that detects if a painting you’re trying to upload was created by you or not. So, if someone downloads another artist’s work and tries to re-upload it, they will be prevented from doing so.

    Tracing is possible by importing any image as a background reference. If an artist finds someone has done this and is not ok with it, by contacting us at with evidence of the original and copied work, we will take down the painting.

  9. hello guys. im having a bit problem. what happens is i love to draw and have made some really fantastic drawings or paintings but to upload them i try to create an account within the application but it says sorry we cannot create an account for you at this time is anyone having this problem if so please help

  10. and one more thing i have been trying to make the acc from over a week and still cant . thanx for any help:)

  11. Hello. I am experiencing an issue. will not allow me to establish an account. I ask if you could repair this issue. You have my gratitude.

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