• Apr 28, 2010
Rendering swipes? Jon Sibal vs. Mark Neeper – click above for high-res image gallery

In the May issue of Car and Driver, the pub peered through the looking glass to see what kind of product enthusiasts can look forward to in the next few years. The feature, entitled "25 Cars Worth Waiting For," combines some astute speculation and a few foregone conclusions with a rendering of each vehicle. However, one particular depiction caught the eye of ace auto artist Jon Sibal.

A rendering of the 2011 BMW M5 commissioned by C/D and created by artist Mark Neeper bore a striking resemblance to an image Sibal says he penned this past December. Considering both artists were working with existing information, the number of similarities – particularly the sculpted front bumper and side sills – could've been mere coincidence. But Sibal delved deeper and came across several disturbingly exact parallels.

In Sibal's own post, he breaks down each of the distinct items he included in his rendering, and while the first few examples could be taken as fluke coincidences, details like the precise lighting glare on the silver side mirrors, a swapped tow hook cover and the highlighting on the side sills were exact duplicates. More telling is Sibal's admission that he made a slight mistake on one side of the intake (not blending it in properly) which mysteriously made it onto Neeper's image. Additionally, Sibal added his own "watermark" – an odd, pinched line on the front bumper – which he claims, "was left in there purposely... to track and identify the parts of the car I've painstakingly designed and created."

To his credit, Sibal isn't out for blood or even monetary compensation; he's just looking for some attribution. And when we spoke with him earlier today, Sibal made it clear that he respects Neeper's work.

Neeper, who has yet to return our emails, is a well-respected artist who's been creating drawings and renderings for various publications for the better part of two decades.

Sibal says he has contacted C/D, but apparently has yet to receive a response. We've spoken with C/D and they're just as flummoxed as Sibal and are taking the matter very seriously as they embark on an investigation.

Check out the examples below for more proof, and get the full details on Sibal's site.

UPDATE: Although C/D's Editor-In-Chief Eddie Alterman wasn't willing to go on the record, he's extended his apologies to Sibal and intends to run the artist's letter in an upcoming issue. More importantly, Mark Neeper has publicly apologized to Sibal and you can read his explanation below:
Dear Mr. Sibal,

I am deeply sorry and embarrassed.

I had found or already had various M-Kits that were chopped out or semi-chopped out of their backgrounds, not properly comprehending where they sourced from - even factory photo "kits" of M edition vehicles, which in retrospect, I should have used. I am so embarrassed and hope you will accept my sincere apology for this error.

Your work is fantastic, and I hope we can be friends in the future, and thank you for your kind words in the midst of this mishap.

Sincerely,

Mark Neeper



[Source: JonSibal.com]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 31 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      What are these people, 5 year olds? It's just a drawing, get over yourselves. Get a real job like a trash colector and a plumber and quickly realize that worrying about IP is kinda a privilige.

      Who cares? Sure, there is, for now, a market for photoshops, but it's hardly like these people are charitable samaritans. They live out of an artificial scarcity paradigm, like everyone else in a centralized economy. And it makes them selfish.

      I would like it if IP just died and people were free to mix and match everyone else's creations into their own. A paradigm of creative freedom instead of this toddlers "IT'S MINE MINE MINE" fantasy. They are just mixing in natural archetypes anyway, reality is a lego set and nobody owns intelectual property on it except god herself ;)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Dear Mr. Sibal,
      I am deeply sorry and embarrassed.
      I had found or already had various M-Kits that
      were chopped out or semi-chopped out of
      their backgrounds, not properly comprehending
      where they sourced from - even factory photo "kits"
      of M edition vehicles, which in retrospect, I should have used.
      I am so embarrassed and hope you will accept
      my sincere apology for this error.
      Your work is fantastic, and I hope we can be
      friends in the future, and thank you for your kind
      words in the midst of this mishap.

      Sincerely,

      Mark Neeper
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would be willing to guess that this type of stuff happens ALL the time.

      It would have been nice to see both images (uncropped) to see if the overall theme was the same exact thing or not. Clearly the C/D guy used Sibal's image, but was it used as a reference with his own personal changes or all he did was mirror it, and change the color?

      There do look to be changes between the two images but without a full-size image it's hard to tell just how big of a difference there is.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow the guy's pretty calm for getting ripped off. The most telling signs were the rear-view mirror and the watermark line he put on the bumper. Unmistakably copied. Think the guy should get reimbursed by C&D.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In fact, I think they are both chops of this photo....

      http://www.webwombat.com.au/motoring/cars/images/2010-bmw-5-series-1-big.jpg
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm pretty sure Sibal's is, but that's a photo of one of the regular F10's. Sibal's (and the C/D one) are of what the new F10 M5 is likely to look like. Different front bumper, side skirts, grille, mirrors, side grilles, etc....
      • 4 Years Ago
      A copy of a copy of a photoshop job trying to copy. hmmm...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Pretty convincing. There are a number of differences in the C&D version's bodywork, but I suppose the artist might have just swiped a few choice bits (front fascia, etc) from Sibal's rendering to save time.

      Either way, the saddest part of this was that it reminded me I haven't picked up a copy of C&D in almost a year. It was such a good mag--solidly superior to the other U.S. ones--up until the 2006 redesign. Hachette Fillipachi now seems hell-bent on running it out of business with watered-down reviews and garish, illegible page layouts.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Jim: I agree. The last version was horrible, although it still feels flimsy and cheap. I had been reading Motor Trend for a while, but I find their reviews aren't as indepth and kind of sterile. Plus their design department has kinda went off the tracks - their look has devolved from that of the original Motor Trend Classic. Motor Trend Classic was excellent, and it transferred over to Motor Trend and was pretty good, but now I find it looks cheap.

        As for Sibal - good luck! I know what it feels like to have more work stolen. That's the worst problem with the internet. Hopefully Sibal gets some kind of recognition from all this. I mean - that's all I would want really. Someone liked it enough to rip it off, and someone else liked it enough to publish it - now the thousands of people who've seen it have to be made know where the talent lies. Who knows - now maybe C&D will have a new renderer to use.
      • 4 Years Ago
      heads need to drop for this.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks like Sibal seems to be taking it all in stride. Hopefully they can solve it in a reserved fashion.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I like how Sibal, with class, complimented Neeper's artistic ability while forcefully present what's rightfully should be credited to him.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If he actually did the work, I hope C&D pays him for it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, well he's in no position to complain: the other unspoken title for this story is "Jon Sibal swipes BMW design cues from, erm, BMW"
      • 4 Years Ago
      In my office, this would be grounds for immediate termination. The evidence is clear.

      On another note: Stop the "first post" BS. This isn't TMZ and you aren't 12.
        • 4 Years Ago
        nobody said first post.... so uh why even bring it up dude?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sibal in Korean is....
        • 4 Years Ago
        For once there wasn't a "me first" post, at least as far as I could tell.

        So... what's up with Neeper (allegedly) stealing someone else's work?

        He's always been one of my favorites... it would really suck if this all gets confirmed.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Neeper can easily end the controversy by providing his progress files. If he did lift this guys so called "rendering" then he wouldn't have any early files to substantiate any denial of wrong doing.

      Anyone who works digitally keeps numeric progression files of their work for just such reasons. Of course, I think it's clear he did what is accused above and has no way to cover. This is what happens when people who can't draw use Photoshop to create art. It's a shame because Neeper is one of the few old school guys who can actually draw and shouldn't have to resort to this cloning hack technique.
      • 4 Years Ago
      All it takes is one stupid mistake and POOFT! there goes 20 yrs of great work.
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