Inktober Book Plagerism Accusations

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    Hi guys,

    You may or may not have heard about this, but I wanted to put it out there first so rumors and accusations don't start flying everywhere. An artist named Alphonso Dunn has accused Jake's inktober book of plagiarism.

    I love Alphonso's work and respect him as a teacher and agree that there are some similarities to the work. In fact, every single book on inking has some similarities. Even dating back to the "Rendering in Pen and Ink" book by Arthur Guptill published back in the 1891.

    Things like line, form, shading, texture, and value don't change much from teacher to teacher. Jake puts each of those in his own words in his book. Alphonso puts his spin on it in his book. And of course I put my own spin on those things in my classes as well.

    For example, In this image Alphonso compares his image on the right, with jakes on the left. Both of them talk about line, form, value, detail and shading.


    If an art teacher can't use the basic terms to present techniques, we are all in trouble. You can't own basic tools and techniques and so I disagree with Alphonso's assertions.

    Now the internet is running with this and of course it is nasty. But I ask you that you really look at what is being said before making a judgement. As always, I will be here to answer your questions anytime. : )

    Happy drawing!

  • Is this the extent of the evidence? I don't see any real similarities, but maybe there's a lot more? I can't find any other images online, just accusations on reddit which don't have any specifics.

    Is Alphonso spearheading this??

  • @jdubz Yes Alphonso posted a video on youtube. But I think he's not written original content in his book either so it's not really plagiarism as these are techniques from long before both artists were born. Alphonso's argument is based on 2 sample pages on Amazon.

  • @jdubz Alphonso has released an hour long video detailing his argument as to why the book is plagiarized, if you want to see for yourself, I recommend watching that.

    I understand why he's upset, but to me, it seems like they are two different books covering the same niche topic. A lot of the things he claims he came up with, and Jake copied, look a lot like things that I studied or did in my intro to drawing and 2D design classes in college (years before either of these books were published). If someone is unfamiliar with other drawing fundamentals books and watches Alfonso's argument, it definitely looks like Jake copied, but if you take a minute to compare Alfonso's book to all the other books out there on drawing fundamentals, you'll see that may of the concepts that he claims that he invented predate him by quite a bit.

  • Maybe this is his idea of a marketing strategy, albeit a bad one? "I'll associate my name with Jake Parker and push book sales. Win-win."

  • Some of the examples he gives are basic techniques yes, but if you watch the whole video there is clearly evidence of 'borrowing' layouts, images, and ideas. He should have at least given some credit. It is shameful. The most damning thing is that Jake's drawings are clearly in a different style than what he is 'teaching' in his book.

  • Oh my. Chin up, Jake! I’m glad I can, and will, steer clear of the drama, but feeling for Jake for sure.

  • I watched Alphonso's video this morning (in horror) and while he makes some undeniable points, most points I thought were just ridiculous. "Here Jake talks about line weight and value...I talk about that in my book!"


    Other things in the books however, were similar. No denying it. The flow of chapters, some images etc. Once you're halfway through the video you have to agree that there are indeed some similarities, and to take some points seriously, but the rest of it...ugh, I mean? THEY ARE BOTH BOOKS ABOUT INKING.

    He is obsessing over some points that simply have no merit. Some things he's saying are 'stolen' are simply fundamentals of drawing ffs. Forget ink, he's talking like he invented drawing in some spots!

    I'm a sculptor, and I learned sculpting from two brothers in Texas, The Shiflett Brothers. They're some of the world's best. They have run a free forum for over a decade that teaches ppl how to sculpt. For free, to everyone. They taught me all kinds of techniques for creating a simple armature, strengthening that with epoxy, and then adding polymer clay slowly and baking in layers until you feel it is finished.

    I have been asked by some ppl to create a Patreon/do video tutorials, and I have considered writing a book on this subject someday. The Shifletts are releasing a book this year about their methods. I have told many people to buy that book, and I have also explained that any book id write will only have much of the same info.

    Still, I can write my book. I will say basically the same stuff they are, but I'll include pictures of my sculpts, in my style.

    I'll word it all differently, I may have things that are uniquely my own here and there, but for the most part it will be the same steps, in the same sequence... Some people will say that I stole the methods from the Shifletts, and deride me.

    But you know who won't say that? Jarrod and Brandon Shiflett. They give their info out for free to everyone who wants to know. They cheer me on daily when I share some of their 'unique' secrets (learned from others), they dont give a SHIT. They are about getting the word out about sculpting, and getting more people into the artform.

    Alphonso is worried this book will sell way more than his, overshadowing his work, and negating the time and effort spent on it. I get it. Jake has a huge following, this is being published professionally, and that would be likely.

    The books are similar, and some of the things he showed did get a cringe from me. Again, the flow of some chapters, some of the images being too similar.

    But please Alphonso, show me any art book in this world that does not rest on the shoulders of giants. Show me the art book that is full of only unique ideas. Do you think that is what your books are? Do you think you invented inking 8 years ago? You invented line weight? ( "Jake calls it feathering, but I say varying the line weight, its the same, look!")

    Twitter is tearing into this like they did last time, the ghouls there will be ruthless for a few days.
    I think this is very fixable, but my thoughts are with Jake now as he has to deal with yet another twitter storm.

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @tazzyartist jake does give credit in the book. But Alphonso never saw that part.

    Also, many art teachers teach in different styles than they work in. For students who took my painting class, we had a section on painting photo realistically. But my work is 100% different from that. If art teachers could only work in styles that they do personally, it would be a very tough thing to find a good teacher.

  • Look, I'm so biased here as Jake has been unreasonably kind to me over the years but seems like so much of the information in question has been presented in a bunch of SVS videos including Inking 2.0 (which has been online for a few years now, right?). When I took an inperson course from Jake in 2017, he presented several of the same ideas, concepts and information.

    In any of these situations, I try to let the other party have time to respond, plead their case and show their's only fair. Let the man respond and take it from there. I think its a good reminder to a thoughtful group of people that if a situation like this comes up, see if it can be investigated and resolved behind closed doors first. If not, head to the Internet and blow it up and set fire to everything.

    Be well friends,

  • @StudioLooong said in Inktober Book Plagerism Accusations:

    If someone is unfamiliar with other drawing fundamentals books and watches Alfonso's argument, it definitely looks like Jake copied, but if you take a minute to compare Alfonso's book to all the other books out there on drawing fundamentals, you'll see that may of the concepts that he claims that he invented predate him by quite a bit.

    I just watched it and I think this is pretty spot on.

    There were some similarities between things like texture techniques, but if no one can make a tutorial about making fur in ink because someone else once made one is not going to fly.

    Some of the examples he gives are basic techniques yes, but if you watch the whole video there is clearly evidence of 'borrowing' layouts, images, and ideas.

    Both books have a very similar form and intent to teach all-around inking technique. There are obviously going to be sections in them about line weight for example. How different ways can you illustrate different hatch marks? This is going to be tough because the differences are going to come down to subjective opinion instead of demonstrative point-by-point evidence.

  • I am glad you are the one to open the topic on the forum because it can't be avoided in all this noise. Sadly it is harming the reputation of both artists.

    If the issue needs to be acknowledged, I hope people will be less passionate on the forum. Comments are indeed nasty on Youtube from both Jake's or Alphonso's supporting teams...

  • SVS Instructor Pro

    Watched the video. My verdict: I don't know.

    There are two different issues being blended in the video. Content vs arrangement of information.

    As for content -- I've never seen Dunn's book but nothing he highlighted was unique or original to me. I've been drawing, learning, and teaching a long time and these are simply concepts and techniques that I've learned over the years. They are fundamentally facts. Facts are not protected by copyright.

    Arrangement of information: Given that this is a fact-based book that is designed to teach, the arrangement of information is important and is more readily protected by copyright. From the video there appears to be a basis for a claim on this point.

    BUT Dunn has not seen the finished book. Amount and nature of infringement matters. The only way to properly evaluate is by putting each book side by side and carefully evaluating both. Ideally, done by an impartial third party.

    Instead we are only seeing one side that is clearly highly biased.

  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    @Julia Thanks. Yea, it's a bummer. I love Alphonso's work and he seems like such a cool guy. And jake too. I wonder what happened to just calling someone if you have a problem and talking about it? Seems like people could avoid a lot of headache!

  • I am very glad there is a thread here - the discourse on social media and on the art groups (facebook/discord/etc) I am in have turned absolutely vile and nasty.

    I agree a lot with David Hohn on the content vs layout. I think it's unfair to compare a finished book with one that's not out yet. I don't have enough information to form an opinion either way.

    HOWEVER I don't think it's my responsibility or the responsibility of the collective internet to make that call. I think this entire situation has been handled incredibly poorly on Alphonso's part - bringing this to social media instead of his agent (if he has one), his lawyer (if he has one), and his publisher (is the place I would have gone to first, honestly) is absolutely out of line. Even he doesn't want to give Jake a call, this should have been handled differently. If he thought he had a case, he should have gone to a lawyer or his agent FIRST, because posting the video he did puts his case in serious jeopardy.

    Handing this straight to the social media outrage machine, especially since Jake's kinda got a target on his back surrounding Inktober anyway, comes off as an incredibly callous and cruel move to me.

  • @korilynneillo i agree. I understand he got upset and made that video out of anger, but that was a mistake.
    I like Alphonso, he makes good videos. But this was a bad call. Contacting Jake would have been the right idea, or a lawyer I guess.

  • I've only just seen this story come to light, but I agree that this should have been handled with agents and lawyers.

  • I was not even able to make it 5 minutes into Alphonso Dunn's video, because here's the thing: he starts out talking to his students to teach them to protect their work - and talking about how much effort it is to make a book as if immediately assuming Jake didn't do a lot of work on his - and comparing a preview on amazon to his book is the LAST way to do it.

    If he wanted to teach his students rather than use their inexperience to get them on his side, he could have been professional about it and talked about it later.

    Maybe I have too much of an svs bias already, but a teacher that always thinks they're right drives me crazy. He thinks it's proof that he's right, and it isn't, he starts out walking through how he got upset, so I can't watch. This is a good example of why it's always a good idea to question teachers.

  • Wow it is really rough out there.

    I've watched Dunn's video and I'm going to piggyback off David Hohn's words about content a bit. A lot of what Dunn points out as his work are things that I learned in one of my first art classes, Principles of Visual Communication. I've also heard these lessons from multiple teachers (I think Lee even covered a lot of stuff about the mark making and how to get different values with ink in a class called Quick Sketch, which was all in ink) and I could grab most any book on my shelf teaching drawing and it would have a good chunk of similar information. It feels and sounds like what happened on some level is Dunn has come to these art fundamental conclusions on his own, which would be incredible. I feel this would also give you a sense of ownership of a technique or way of mark making.

    By no means am I trying to take anything away from either artist, making a book like this is no joke. I think it's important to have multiple books on the same subject. A particular teacher could have a way of conveying information to you that just clicks even though you've heard it from someone else in a different form.

  • Absolutely gutting for both men. Both to believe that someone has stolen your work and to be accused of doing so. I feel for both of them. I hope Jake is ok and that the publishers and their lawyers can sort this out.

    There are definitely elements that will be common to all instruction on the same topic, because they are the skills that are required to e.g. draw well. And there might be an element of someone teaching something so clearly that it seems the obvious way to teach it to people going forward.

    What a horrible situation for you both.

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