Protect Your Artwork

July 22, 2010

I got a call yesterday from a loyal reader who was very frustrated that his artwork had been used without his permission. I’ll go over a quick strategy that allows you to provide a higher-quality proof to your clients without having to worry about them stealing your artwork.

Don’t send a JPEG! If you have ever been to a CorelDRAW Unleashed Training Boot Camp, you know that I make it very clear that JPEG is the worst possible file format for anything other than photos on a Web site. Not only is it a lousy file, you have no protection.

Place the word “PROOF” or some other text across the top of the graphic and make it 80-90% transparent. That way it covers the artwork enough that it would look awful if stolen, but not so much that it prevents the customer from proofing the artwork.

From CorelDRAW, publish your artwork to PDF. If you need the details on doing this, check out Lesson 34 from my CorelDRAW X5 Unleashed book. On the security tab, make sure to include a permission password. Turn off the ability to print the artwork or edit it in any way. Your customer can still look at it on screen as long as they want.

I’ll put in a side note. If there is a permission password, it will also prevent the PDF from being imported into CorelDRAW unless the password is known. This method isn’t absolute foolproof, but it will provide you a great deal of protection from your customers taking your artwork elsewhere.

Post Discussion


  1. Desert Eric

    Another option is to embed at the bottom of the graphic (c) 2010, your name or business. All rights reserved. Unless a user can show a written agreement with the artist, they are in breach of copyright. Since many charge less than $3,000-$5,000 for individual graphics, the matter can be handled in small claims court where attorneys are prohibited. I’ve won a case this way.

  2. Foster D. Coburn III

    Eric, great suggestion. Not only does your idea help to protect the artwork, it gives the artist a way to fight back if it is stolen. Thanks for posting!


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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III built his first Web site in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013. He has used the Divi theme exclusively since 2015. Earlier in his career he was the author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences.

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