Did Workshop artists cheat their way into the new case?
Topic: Cheat Allegations around the new Revolution Case
On Thursday, February 9th, CS:GO added a new case: the Revolution Case, which featured 17 community-made skins. Among these skins was the M4A4 | Temukau, an anime-themed skin that was immediately recognized by the community as the “star” skin in the case. The skin was created by @f0rnez, an artist with a large following on TikTok and Twitter. Before 2 days had passed since the release of the case, allegations claiming that f0rnez “is most likely cheating his way into the CSGO steam workshop.”
"Danidem" Calling Out Workshop Artist "f0rnez"
On February 11, the well-known skin and sticker creator, @TheDanidem published a thread claiming that @f0rnez had stolen the artwork for several of his skins that were a part of the same collection as the Temukau. He claimed to have found the original artwork for three of the skins, and was searching for evidence for the M4A4. He also suggested that f0rnez had demonstrated clear inconsistencies, leading Dani to believe that he was “cheating his way into the CS:GO Steam Workshop.”
He believed that “it's just a matter of time for the original work of the M4A4 to show up. I also think that the art for the P90/MAC10/Tec-9 is legit, as it is poorly drawn,” finishing the statement with a clear attack on f0rnez’s drawing skills. He finished the thread by warning fellow skin creators not to cheat their way into the workshop and informed everyone that this was not intended to be a “witch hunt” and that he took “no pride in doing this but, after finding out and giving myself some time to think about it, I feel morally obliged to call it out.”
Why Would Danidem Do This?
Before we move on to the evidence of f0rnez’s potential plagiarism, it's important to understand the character of the individual accusing him. Danidem is an extremely popular skin creator with over 10 stickers and 3 skins in CS:GO. When the popular developer @aquaismissing accused Dani of doing this not for justice but rather for the purpose of creating drama, claiming that he should have reached out to developers before tweeting - Dani responded with a screenshot of a conversation with a dev. After Dani made the developer aware of the situation, he responded by informing him that a DMCA claim had to be filed before CS:GO took definitive action. He went on to explain that the only way to solve this case is to reach out to the Japanese artist who created the original artwork and inform him of the situation.
While we may not know much about Danidem as a person, it is important to note that he took the correct action here and should not be vilified in the situation. He stood to gain nothing but attention by accusing f0rnez, and has been spending his weekend defending his claims against several individuals attacking him for making these allegations.
Upon learning about the allegations, f0rnez immediately responded by replying to the thread with an image of the hand-drawn artwork for the Temukau. He went on to claim that “I have clearly not copied straight up. I have collected inspiration YES. But I also have the original HAND drawn drawing of the artwork on the M4A4 Temukau. I have a degree in Graphic designs and I know copying artwork is NOT okay, it looks similar yes, but it is NOT the same.” Danidem immediately replied with an image of side-by-side comparisons from two of f0rnez’s skins, captioned with the words “are you sure about that.”
Along with this, Dani went on to explain that a drawing does not prove anything, going on to use the analogy that a hand-drawn image of the Mona Lisa does not prove original ownership. Put simply, the hand-drawn image of the work proves nothing, as anyone can hand-draw an image of something created by someone else, but it doesn’t mean it was original work.
EsportFire Interviews f0rnez
Amidst the drama, EsportFire reached out to f0rnez for a comment on the situation. He responded with the following:
“As an artist and graphic designer, research and inspiration is a huge part of the job. This is something that every artist does. I am very aware of the difference between copying and inspiration. As you see in my other workshop submissions I have taken inspiration from anime characters/drawings. But as you CLEARLY can see, it is NOT copied but inspired by. When something is not 100% similar it is not a copy. As you also can see, a lot of the characters in anime look very similar and have a unique style. Therefore it's impossible that there won't be similarities. I have been getting inspiration to create my skins as different as possible within the anime artwork.And to add, all of the drawings and designs are 100% my OWN work and no one else's."
When being confronted with the workshop submission of the M4A1-S Silent Kidotai and the related original art by "Ebiblue" he responded with the following: "It is similar, yes, but it is not a 1:1. The body, the arms. The only similar thing is the shape of the head and the inspiration of the eyes.”
He also informed us that he still possesses the Adobe Illustrator file where the artwork was created alongside the physical drawing mentioned above.
Evidence Against f0rnez
After hours of discussion only related to f0rnez’s other artworks rather than the Temukau, evidence pertaining to the M4A4 skin finally appeared. It started when a fellow skin creator produced a side-by-side comparison of f0rnez’s character and another character. The character’s hair on the A4 is almost identical to that of the drawing from another artist, “down to every strand of hair” according to Dani.
Next came a Twitter user by the name of @Mr. Blast, who produced another artwork that almost perfectly matched the body and mouth of f0rnez’s creation. From here, many speculated that f0rnez copied several parts of different artworks and combined them to create on that wouldn’t seem like an exact copy of one specific piece. However, it is important to note that the images are not exactly alike, and it is possible that these were the images f0rnez sourced his inspiration from.
Evidence Supporting f0rnez
After his skin was added to the game, f0rnez released a video to his 200,000+ followers on TikTok displaying the process of creating the skin. The video showed how he started with a drawing, then created the art digitally, put it onto the skin, and added the remaining details. While this is solid evidence, it still doesn’t fight the claim that the original drawing may have been plagiarized from a different artist.
f0rnez Speaks With ohnePixel and Other Skin Creators
After several hours of the discussion being restricted to twitter, f0rnez joined @ohnePixel and @T-R3x3r, another fellow skin creator. f0rnez began the discussion by explaining that he was disappointed that Danidem had not messaged him prior to the announcement, and was sad that his idol had attacked him like this. He admitted to using the images that Danidem provided as inspiration for the weapons(but not the M4A4), but continued to defend his reputation, denying any outright plagiarism.
However, T-R3x3r had a valid counterargument to this point, explaining that: “I genuinely feel like that is kind of the issue here. So like, there is obviously changes because you clearly do it yourself. It's not a 1 to 1 trace … what Danidem and what people are pointing out is that the similarities are a bit too close, like it is not original enough.” f0rnez once again re-iterated that he wished Dani had messaged him prior to making the tweet, claiming to have received “a [explitive] ton of hate messages in my comments…I’m really really disappointed. Yesterday was the best day of my life, and now this comes up and ruins my whole [explitive] evening.”
This was his main argument for the majority of the discussion, and he opted not to directly defend his artwork but rather explained that he did chance certain details, though minute. After T-R3x3r elaborated on the fact that he made a big jump in his artistic abilities, f0rnez also explained that it was impossible to compare these two different styles and that he had “done my research in the field, what does fit with this style, you know?”
The discussion went on for over an hour, and at one point a friend of T-R3x3r, who has had 3 skins accepted in game and also studied law for a year, brought up a few points. He essentially explained that because the artworks were so similar, it was highly likely that a court of law would find f0rnez guilty of plagiarism if the Japanese artist, who created the original art that f0rnez claimed to have taken inspiration from, chose to file a DMCA claim and sue f0rnez. Interestingly enough, f0rnez made a statement that was very near to admission to plagiarism, claiming that “but that is not an accepted skin though, that doesn't matter”, in a response to the other skin creators’ claims.
From here, all that the community can do is wait until Valve takes further action. The original artist will have to file a DMCA lawsuit, and if they succeed in doing so, Valve will likely redo the artwork of the skin themselves (but this will not mean the creation of the Howl 2.0, we wouldn't suggest buying into these skins in hope for profit).
Additional Stolen Artworks
During the ohnePixel stream, the individuals on the call brought up the point of several other stolen skins. For example, the M4A4 Griffin, which features stolen artwork, and several other skins with similar situations.
Along with this, another extremely serious allegation came both from Danidem and T-R3x3r. One more popular skin from the Revolution case, the AWP | Doodle Lore, appears to be a nearly exact replica of art created by a quite popular artist. That artist has been reached out to, and from what we currently know, is looking to take legal action against the creator of the skin, who didn’t credit him in any form.
The original artist, who has a massive following of nearly 3,000,000 subscribers on YouTube, quote tweeted Danidem’s tweet about the Doodle Lore, and seems to have verified that he will be pursuing legal action against Jimmba, the artist who claims to have created the skin completely by themself. We could well imagine that the skin will be redrawn, as the similarities between the two artworks are clearly visible. (Last sentence was speculation by the author)
After this situation came to light, T-R3x3r took it upon himself to do some further investigation on Jimmba’s skins. Jimmba is the “creator” of the MAC-10 Monkeyflage, and T-R3x3r claims to have found his “inspiration” in almost no time at all. It seems as though the vast majority of the Monkeyflage was copied from another artist, and the only thing Jimmba did was add three extremely basic drawings of monkeys.
With a significant amount of skins now being in question for being stolen, CS:GO’s responsibility in this situation becomes increasingly problematic. It's no novelty for skins to be stolen and published in the Steam Workshop, but one would assume that Valve/CS:GO devs would go through the effort to ensure any skin they added into the game was not plagiarized in any form. While the majority of fault should be directed towards those plagiarizing the work of others, it’s also important to note the role of the developers and their failure to engage in an investigation into a skin before they add it into the game, especially when significant amounts of money are on the line.
Another skin artist by the name of @moonfighter brought up an important point regarding this whole situation. He pointed out that “situations like that keep hard working artists away from getting their skins into game,” because the “Situation with howl made it almost impossible for new artists to get accepted, only trusted people had their items added to the game, with each case having like 1-2 new people. Now as soon as that changed, new people started being accepted, this stuff happened.” He brings up an extremely valid point: The individuals who plagiarize the work of others for monetary gain through the CS:GO Workshop system not only hurts the original artists but takes a big step back for the skin-making community as a whole.
Journalistic integrity is very important for us. We do not want to take any side in this case until there is a legitimate fact and therefore also waited to receive statements from both sides before reporting. Until a court of law determines a violation of copyright under DMCA laws, any accusations directed towards f0rnez or other artists are essentially nothing but speculation. Most importantly, please do not direct any hate toward anyone involved in the situation. Even if someone is guilty, it doesn't give you the right to punish them.