I’m stuck on a Art & Design question and need an explanation.

Week 3 Discussion – Utilizing a Template Layer in Illustrator

Learning Objectives Covered

  • LO 01.05 – Identify proper utilization of images or artwork in a template layer

Career Relevancy

It is actually rather infrequent that graphic designers create complex illustrations from scratch in Illustrator – they most often put pen or pencil to paper first, scan the artwork in and then using the scan as a template, vectorize the illustration. It is important that graphic designers today understand when utilizing traditional drawing combined with technology will yield a better result, faster.


Wk3Disc.jpgUtilizing a template layer is common practice among designers in the field. Photographic images often allow designers to ensure that proportions are correct while not limiting creative expression in any way. If a designer has some illustration skills, drawing by hand, with paper and pen, it is often quicker and easier than drawing within Illustrator. Then hand drawing, scanning, and implementation of a template layer are encouraged while employing Illustrator.

A designer must be careful, though, to properly select and utilize images or artwork in a template layer. You might be familiar with how plagiarism works while writing your discussion posts and papers, but we need to be just as mindful of it in design. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Plagiarism: to steal and pass off as one’s own; to use without crediting the source.” So let’s explore that.

In design, plagiarism can be truly unintentional. We see something and are inspired, and remember the inspiration in some back corner of our brain. Many months later, a project is presented, and we remember what inspired us in response to the project at hand, having no idea that the image coming to mind was someone else’s work, not ours. After a final has been produced, designers have been asked to make changes to differentiate the new work from that which was in existence. This proves to be frustrating, embarrassing and expensive to both designers and clients.

But, plagiarism can happen far more intentionally, particularly with tools like Illustrator and Photoshop. No matter how many hours are put into a project or how hard you work on a composition, a copy is a copy – and unless you created the original, it is direct plagiarism and absolutely against the law.

What if your work is plagiarized? Before getting angry, feel flattered. Then contact the offender in a friendly way and ask to see the situation resolved. Corrective actions might include revising the work, crediting the concept to you or immediately removing the unoriginal materials. If letters and emails don’t work, legal options can be explored and a cease and desist letter sent. But before taking any action at all, make sure that you can establish the original work as yours, with proof of the date it was created.


We are going to explore when it is a good idea to utilize a template layer this week, and when it might actually be considered plagiarism. Read the following three scenarios then answer the questions below.

Designer A was inspired by a photo of flowers that he saw in a magazine and created a sketch based on one of the flowers in the photo. He scanned the sketch and then utilized it in a template layer to create an icon to be used as part of a logo.

Designer B found a photo of a dragonfly on the Internet. He dragged it to his desktop and then created a template layer from it in Illustrator. He used the image to gauge the proportion and overall shape of the dragonfly but simplified it quite a bit. In fact, the final image looked nothing like the original photo except for the overall shape.

Designer C found an image of almost exactly what he wanted for a logo on the Internet. He downloaded it and traced it, changing a line or two so as not to make a direct copy.

All three designers used a photo for inspiration in their final vector artwork. Compare and contrast their approaches.

  1. Which, if any, would be considered plagiarism and why?
  2. Which would be considered acceptable ways to utilize a template and why?
  3. Based on your research, do you think using templates within Illustrator is a good idea? Why or why not?

For your citation, you might use articles that show examples of plagiarism in design. You can also find articles from experts that suggest when and how to utilize a template layer.

Your initial and reply posts should work to develop a group understanding of this topic. Challenge each other. Build on each other. Always be respectful but discuss this and figure it out together.

Instructions (if needed) to upload and embed images to the discussion: (make sure you reference all images you use)

Reply Requirements

Per the Due Dates and Participation Requirements for this course, you must submit 1 main post of 150+ words, 1 citation, and reference, as well as 2 follow-up posts of 50+ words. Responses can be addressed to both your initial thread and other threads but must be your own words (no copy and paste), each reply unique (no repeating something you already said), and substantial in nature. Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time (20%) and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. (20% per post).

Remember that part of the discussion grade is submitting on time and using proper grammar, spelling, etc. You’re training to be a professional—write like it.

Click here for info on the Institution Writing Guidelines (IWG) if you have questions.


Task Benchmark Examples

The files below are PDFs showing A-level work by fellow students. The examples are provided to illustrate the quality of work needed to get an A on this task. Copying from the samples is considered cheating. Use the examples to inform your plan to create your own work. Look at the pieces for writing quality, use of citations, weaving outside sources and the author’s position together, ability to meet the goals of the task, and cohesion.\