Contributing to Adobe Stock

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post for the Adobe Creative Connections blog about contributing to the Adobe Stock library (read Stock: Dont’t Just Buy—Sell, Sell, Sell) and on that particular blog we try to keep the word count down, so there are a couple of sections that I’d like to add in—or expand—here.

Contributing Photography to Adobe Stock

Unless you’re going for particularly dramatic effect, there are some basics that you’ll need to make sure are technically excellent:

  • Exposure: Check the Histogram Panel in Photoshop/Lightroom, and if you’ve got a nice, wavy range of tones that slopes off and ends just before either end, then the chances are very high you’ve got a good exposure.
  • Composition: Generally if your subject is framed in the absolute centre of the image, it’s not likely to be that appealing or interesting. Lead the eye around the image and draw the viewer into it; use tried-and-tested compositional rules and proportions. If you’re unable to get this at the time of shooting, Photoshop has a number of grids that can help when using the Crop Tool. Don’t crop too tight—remember that your image is quite likely to be adorned with text and other graphic objects. Digital Camera World has a nice “10” guide to photo composition rules and why they work if you’d like a quick refresher.
  • RAW: If you can shoot to RAW then do so, as you’ll get the best range of tones and values to begin with, then you can save out to your intended format once you’re done editing. If you can’t capture to RAW directly, the Photoshop CC Camera Raw Filter (in the Filter menu) will almost definitely help you to get a little more out of your image.

Contributing Vectors and Illustrations

Vector graphics are freed from the constraints of pixel grids and can be freely scaled without losing quality; our digital experiences take place on screens of many sizes so it is quite logical that vector graphics are in huge demand these days. You could be creating your own interpretations of commonly required icons or complete illustrations but there are a few rules to follow, in addition to the basics of quality and composition.

  • Pure Vectors: If you’re supplying illustrative work as a vector, then all of the elements must be vectorized. Some people finish off their work in Photoshop, but you can only sell work like that as an image, not as a vector file. As well as direct use, your buyer may need to be able to get in and edit the file to meet their needs, so you’ll also need to make sure that the file is as compatible as possible.
  • Avoid Autotracing: Customers aren’t likely to pay for something they could have produced themselves so avoid using tracing features in isolation. If you need to use a tracing in part of your image, make sure that it is sufficiently broken down so that the end-user can edit to meet their requirements.
  • Close Paths: You don’t know how the resulting file will be used, so make sure that you close all open paths—it’s pretty easy to check that if you go into Outline view in Illustrator (cmd-y on the mac or ctrl-y on Windows toggles this view).
  • Use Groups And Layers: Imagine that you’re handing the file over to someone you care about, who also happens to not be brilliant at Illustrator. Use groups to organize your content logically and sub-groups if it would help. Name your layers with a name that describes their content (naming in English is fine) and remove unused layers.
  • Clear Grids and Guides: Your own structural assistants could be very daunting to someone who needs to make a quick edit to your work—remove any guides and grids you’ve used in creating your work.
  • Avoid Language: Making your file internationally portable means that you have a greater range of potential customers so avoid using language elements where possible and substitute pictographic elements if you can.
  • Formats: Your vector files will need to be supplied as .ai or .eps files.

Intellectual Property

I can’t stress this enough—your work must not infringe the rights of anyone.


  • If your work depicts any recognisable copyrighted item you’ll need a signed release from an authorized signatory of the rights owner
  • If your photo uses a model, you’ll need a signed model release form to accompany your image.
  • Derivative works—a work based upon pre-existing work(s) that is in  some way transformed from the original—can be a very tricky area in term of IP. If you’re unsure about derivative work or what it is, I find this article on Wikimedia Commons has some very clear information in it.

The whole area around IP is quite complex—and it is worth investing some time in understanding at least the basic principles; you can read a lot more by visiting the pages on the topic here:

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