Sourcing cutout characters that can be used in templates

I'm developing a series of Articulate Storyline templates that I will eventually put up for sale. I'm coming up against restrictions with the cutout character library subscriptions I have (e-Learning Brothers in particular) in that their terms and conditions don't allow these characters to be used in any template that is either given away as a freebie, or sold. The other subscription I have with cutout characters is e-Learning Art - I'm just waiting to hear back from Bryan on this one...

I was wondering if anyone was/is aware of this restriction? I didn't even realise this applied to things that were shared as freebies.

For now, I've resorted to using stock images that have appropriate characters - although they're not cutout so this means a bit more work - and of course they're not sorted by characters in the stock image libraries I subscribe to, so this takes more time to source these.

So, my other question is - does anyone know of any library subscription or resource that offers cutout characters that can be used for this purpose?

5 Replies
Christy Tucker

Stock image sites usually have the same restrictions on selling them as part of a template. Double check the licenses. Some sites allow you to pay for a higher level license that allows you to resell the images. Bryan might allow that for eLearning Art; it would be worth trying to negotiate with him for that.

If you're putting them up for sale, you can either use stock images (after purchasing the appropriate license) or have custom images made. Theoretically, you could use CC-By or Public Domain images, but I expect you would have a very hard time finding images for that. Background images are easy enough to find (Unsplash has images without restrictions, for example), but people photos are challenging.

I would probably go for custom images. Hire some models or actors and a photographer, making sure you get model releases. Then you'll have unique images you're sure you can use. If your budget doesn't allow for models, see if you can get friends to do it for free (or lunch!). You still need them to sign model release forms.

It might be cheaper to get illustrated characters rather than photo ones. Custom illustrations may be available fairly reasonably.

Dianne Hope

Thanks for your response Christy.

This is a very interesting topic and I've done a bit more research myself. It seems that for stock images, it's OK if you use these in a product you're re-selling as long as they are only part of the product - so I totally believe e-Learning templates fit into this criteria as there's a lot more work that is done to the product after the images are added.

Your suggestion of doing my own photo shoots is an interesting one also - that seems like so much work, and because the characters in my templates don't play the major part, I'm not sure that this is a path I'm going to go down, although having some illustrated characters drawn might be something I look into later on.

e-Learning Art has such a fantastic library of characters that Bryan is expanding all the time, and I really wanted to showcase these in my templates - so I've had a chat with Bryan and we've come up with a work-around that will work for both of us.

So, I'm now re-connecting with this project with renewed enthusiasm and a more enlightened understanding of why the terms and conditions of licencing are the way they are.

Christy Tucker

It depends which stock photo site you're using. IStock, for example, specifically excludes digital templates for standard licenses. 

Many sites (including iStock) restrict you from sharing images in a way other people could download them, even if they are extracting it out of a larger work. I have always interpreted that to mean elearning source files too.

I'm glad you were able to work something out with Bryan. That sounds like the best solution.