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Anodyne
07-07-2004, 02:51 PM
Since im a fantasy artist I decided this was the best place to ask my question. How do you feel about tracing? I have recently traced a model from a reference picture, mostly just an outline, no shading, it was just to get the right shape and form. I wasnt going for realism, I just wanted a better and faster way to get the basic faery shape. If i came across a question like this my first response would be do anything you have to do for the project youre working on. I know ive basically answered my own question, but id still like to know how others feel about this.

-Sonia =^.^=

alfredart
07-07-2004, 03:20 PM
Sonia, there's really nothing wrong with tracing to get your work laid out and started. It is much faster and saves alot of erasing. A lot of people use light tables or tracing to do a layout. It's not that you've traced a fugure it's what ya do with it after that. Besides after you trace for awhile you'll be able to draw a fugure without tracing. It will come more natural for you.

Peae,
AL

Elankat
07-07-2004, 03:39 PM
Hey Sonia. :)

This is a question that gets asked in art discussions a lot. You'll find just as many answers as there are people. There is no right or wrong answer, only opinion. So, frequently, these types of threads end up turning into debates.

I'd suggest doing a search for "tracing" on WC and you'll find just how many opinions there are on the subject. ;) :D

I'll just cut and paste my standard response

Now, really...WHO CARES???
As long as you enjoy what you are doing and enjoy the results, who cares? Art is about the process of creation. Art is about enjoyment of the result. Art is about satisfying yourself. So, if you want to trace, then trace. There is more to an end result than tracing. Certainly, it's good to sketch, to draw from life, to continuously improve your skills. However, when push comes to shove, who cares what time saving measures you used to get to the final product?

SabZero
07-07-2004, 04:22 PM
I personally don't like tracing photographs, especially if they were taken by someone else. It is a fast way to get the proportions right, but on the other hand, you don't really learn anything from the experience. It also doesn't give me the rewarding feeling of having it done from scratch, you know?

That said, I have used poser figures in my last two digital drawings because of time restraints. But I preferred the poser figures (I, with hard work lol, posed myself) to tracing a reference image.

And tracing also brings authors rights into play. Is the drawing a derivate work or not? I can't answer the question, but I feel queasy about it. Better not risk and have a work 100% yours ;)

Elankat
07-07-2004, 09:07 PM
And tracing also brings authors rights into play. Is the drawing a derivate work or not? I can't answer the question, but I feel queasy about it. Better not risk and have a work 100% yours ;)

That question comes into play regardless of whether or not you trace. As long as you use reference photos that are not your own, you risk copyright infringement.

The biggest problems that come with tracing are that some people rely on it and never work on mastering their drawing skills, and those who trace often fail to realize the inherent flaws, distortions, and value/hue problems that come from copying photos.

Of course, the interesting thing is that if you have solid drawing skills, it's usually far quicker to draw out your piece than to trace or piece together references. With some mediums, there will almost always be tracing though. For example, colored pencil requires a very clean paper with minimal eraser marks, impressed lines, etc. So most cp artists trace their final, regardless of whether it is traced from their own sketch or a reference photo. :)

Noadi
07-08-2004, 02:38 AM
I definitely don't like the idea of tracing a photo or drawing of someone elses. Like others have said it really doesn't teach you anything and it's a bit murky on the whole copyright issue.

Your own photos are a different matter, that's up to you you took it you have every right to decide how to use it. Though I would say you would still learn more from drawing it from scratch rather than tracing.

And when it comes to your own sketches tracing can be a life saver and since it's only copying your own hard work I can't see how it could be argued that it's cheating or whatever. I work a lot in ink so I always do a base pencil sketch on plain old cheap drawing paper then use my lightbox to trace onto bristol board or watercolor paper. Ink isn't very forgiving and I would hate to spend hours on a drawing just to wreck my only copy with an ink spill. I know a lot of professional artists work this way for just that reason, if you have a deadline you don't want to have to start over from scratch.

Keith Russell
07-08-2004, 11:25 PM
I never trace anything but my own work; often I'll trace a drawing, erase the original, then move it to a better position (composition) on the canvas, illustration board, or whatever.

I have the same 'rule' about projecting or Xeroxing my work; I only enlarge or reduce my own drawings, again almost always in order to re-position the image to 'work' better in the composition.

Sometimes I'll trace a drawing, or a section of a drawing, in order to experiment with details, without messing up the original.

But, again, I never trace anything but my own work.

If I can't draw something I feel I need to render, it's worth the time it takes to learn.

K

Anodyne
07-09-2004, 01:47 PM
Thank you all for your input on this. For my purposes , so far, ive learned a lot by tracing a figure, it left me more time to work on wings, mermaid tails, and the actual painting. Also I use references for my figures most of the time, so its either draw the figure with lots of correcting to get it right, or trace the outline real quick and go from there =)

-Sonia =^.^=

DrLondon
07-09-2004, 03:18 PM
I'll throw in my two cents. Generally, as a rule, I try to avoid tracing. However, I'm still not all that great at figure/anatomy drawing & sketching. So, occasionally, I'll resort to tracing if I'm crunched for time or just can't seem to get it right. That being said, if I do choose to trace, I only work from reference photos that I have taken myself specifically for that project. I suppose, in my mind, I'm keeping it pure and wholly my own.

Noadi
07-09-2004, 03:56 PM
During the school year I taught an afterschool drawing class with middle school kids and one of the activities I did with them to learn how to set up a figure to draw involved a little tracing. And it might benefit you also as a way to learn. I gave them a picture and I had them trace out the figure as a base skeleton of lines, cirles, and ovals, then remove the original and fill in the figure. You learn a lot about proper anatomy that way and also how to set up complex poses. You're still tracing but you're doing far more of the actual drawing then plain tracing.

lemonbird
07-09-2004, 04:08 PM
I never trace anything but my own work; often I'll trace a drawing, erase the original, then move it to a better position (composition) on the canvas, illustration board, or whatever.

I have the same 'rule' about projecting or Xeroxing my work; I only enlarge or reduce my own drawings, again almost always in order to re-position the image to 'work' better in the composition.

Sometimes I'll trace a drawing, or a section of a drawing, in order to experiment with details, without messing up the original.

But, again, I never trace anything but my own work.

If I can't draw something I feel I need to render, it's worth the time it takes to learn.

K

Ditto.

I also agree with the copyright problems that come into play. If you haven't got permission to use the photo then you could run into some problems should you ever want to sell that piece of art. If you took the photo, then you can do whatever you like with it. :) I personally like to challenge myself and not trace photos.

angela
07-09-2004, 07:20 PM
I dont normally like to trace. When I was in design school, we traced a lot of things to get it done quickly (for illustration class...figure drawing was all on our own of course), but since I've been out of school, I draw on my own. One thing I find helpful though, is after drawing the picture, if I have the reference photo the same size, I will put that photo under my drawing on the light box to see how close I am to the photo. Then I will work on the areas that need to be worked on. Ive learned a lot that way..I almost always have to rework the nose. :rolleyes:

ligerwolve
07-13-2004, 07:37 AM
I find that tracing is a good way to refine a loose sketch or inlarge a smaller
picture I,ve done just try not to let it become a crutch you lean on!

Artinthadark
07-13-2004, 12:17 PM
I don't really believe in tracing another persons work.......whether it be from a photo or something else, I do believe that the use of tracing paper or vellum for the layout of a work is perfectly acceptable. I know that when I am working on an image with multiple figures, I will do the drawing of each individual figure on the tracing paper, and then transfer the image to the working surface so that I don't damage the paper that the finsihed product will be on.
Other than that I say it is up to the individual artist, and if it honestly works for you do it, if not find another way.

Tracy

Mark_xiii
07-13-2004, 01:35 PM
I remember reading an interview with a fantasy artist (can't for the life of me think of who it was) who mentioned tracing. When asked "What advice do you have for aspiring artists?" he replied "Tracing won't make your genitals fall off.". A good point well made LOL.

I think tracing is useful, sometimes even necessary, but it all depends on what you're working on and WHY you're working on it.

Anodyne
07-13-2004, 02:35 PM
I remember reading an interview with a fantasy artist (can't for the life of me think of who it was) who mentioned tracing. When asked "What advice do you have for aspiring artists?" he replied "Tracing won't make your genitals fall off.". A good point well made LOL.

I think tracing is useful, sometimes even necessary, but it all depends on what you're working on and WHY you're working on it.


LOL, well i think that sums it up!
Everyone has been great, there are so many different views on this subject, when it comes down to it, i think it simply depends on the person and their intended use of tracing. Copyright issues seem to scare people right away and there is no need for that as long as you are educated on that subject and know what is allowed and what you are never allowed to do. Also for new artists I personally feel they need to learn everything about drawing and art before using the shortcuts, sort of like learning math, as a kid you were never allowed to use a calculator, but when you get older you are allowed to use it , you even are required to use one. Yesterday I printed out a few nude models to use for my faeries, and I just have to say how relaxed and excited I am that I will be tracing their simple forms and not worrying about getting proportions correct and that I will be able to work more on their faces/expressions and the rest of the painting. Once again thank you all for your views on this subject.

-Sonia =^.^=

arashi
07-25-2004, 07:20 PM
I make use of photos and tracing all the time. It doesn't mean you can't draw. I try to draw from life as much as I can. I carry a sketch book and try to sketch whenever I get a chance. I used to worry about tracing too but finally I realized that that's not what makes the finished product.
You might trace a photo for the drawing but it doesn't paint it for you.
Also, when I take my photos I don't usually have models who are dressed in costume. That means I have to alter a lot in the drawing stage. Basically the photos help me get a good basis in proportion and lighting and realism and makes it much faster.
Apart from that, taking the photos is a very fun part of the process.

Anyone who says you can't learn from tracing a photo is mistaken. You can pick up a lot of little tidbits that you might not notice just from looking, or that might take you longer to find.

I wouldn't worry about it. Do what's right for you :D

C!

Anodyne
07-25-2004, 08:32 PM
Nicely put arashi, thank you for your info on this subject. Also welcome to WC I noticed you were a new member. =)

Andrew
07-26-2004, 03:37 PM
I never trace anything but my own work; often I'll trace a drawing, erase the original, then move it to a better position (composition) on the canvas, illustration board, or whatever.

I have the same 'rule' about projecting or Xeroxing my work; I only enlarge or reduce my own drawings, again almost always in order to re-position the image to 'work' better in the composition.

Sometimes I'll trace a drawing, or a section of a drawing, in order to experiment with details, without messing up the original.

But, again, I never trace anything but my own work.

If I can't draw something I feel I need to render, it's worth the time it takes to learn.

K


My sentiments exactly! I haven't done any tracing in years. I rely more on a grid approach to enlarging my working drawings to canvas size (when I don't do a same size drawing). When I did graphic design and did a lot with Quark and photoshop, there was a lot of "tracing" doing initial sketches, tracing over the desired elements, scanning it in and "tracing" on the software to make layers, but I found that process to be more tedium than creative.

Andrew

raian
08-02-2004, 09:05 PM
I can't say I really trace... I look for lights and shadows in my reference photos and put those down in my sketches. I'm not good at sketching, so I have to do this in order to begin the painting process. I agree, whatever works and you enjoy, go for it ;) I know some very respected local artists that charge a LOT for their originals and make a mint off prints, that paint exclusively by using slides and tracing out the images onto their paper or board ;)

catluckey
08-25-2007, 01:16 AM
As far as using a photo and copyright infringement. A 20% change, like eye color, hairstyle, clothes, etc., would take care of that. Just don't display the ref photo beside your work.

I worked w/n an audio visual dept. at a university. We created art cards for a PBS education tv program. Stories would be read showing an illustration (art card). We, the artists, copied illustrated scenes from books, but changed them 20% or more. No copyright infringement.

Sometimes I trace...draw from a model...or from memory. All methods, you learn, struggle and grow. I've learned from tracing basic shapes and how to draw difficult shapes...like a person's hand near their face only showing a portion of the arm (perspectively). From memory, no telling how my subject looked, but it'd be great practice and stimuli. From a model, I'd be more successful, experiencing what's there, but found it hard to see around those 3-dimensional edges. From tracing, it allowed me to "see" better.

However, since I was a kid, I heard tracing was "cheating." This came from my sisters, fellow artists, classmates. But in the professional world, it's needed. And many times I'm haunted by the "cheating" term in my mind. Yet I push on, enjoying the field of art.

Olympiada
08-26-2007, 07:24 PM
Since im a fantasy artist I decided this was the best place to ask my question. How do you feel about tracing? I have recently traced a model from a reference picture, mostly just an outline, no shading, it was just to get the right shape and form. I wasnt going for realism, I just wanted a better and faster way to get the basic faery shape. If i came across a question like this my first response would be do anything you have to do for the project youre working on. I know ive basically answered my own question, but id still like to know how others feel about this.

-Sonia =^.^=
I think its fine. I am working in an advanced art production program and my supervisor is fine with that. She direct me to a book called How to Paint and Fairies that uses the tracing technique. I have shown my traces to an artist who said even those were interesting! I just bought some tracing paper from the art store, a little heavier than the one my supervisor had. Fairies are very hard to draw in terms of technique.

Suzy78
07-29-2008, 10:00 AM
I think tracing can be a good tool, but I don't really trace anything except my own drawings. Mostly because I like to work with real people as my models. I use my husband, my friends, my kids, the models from the University I work for, etc. I'll start a drawing on a tracing pad, lay another sheet over and keep tracing my under-drawings as I go to add more detail in the next layer. If I don't like it... I've still got a starting point I was satisfied with in one of my previous layers. The one thing you might want to remember if you start tracing photographs is that the figures can sometimes look flat. If you trace your figure, you will probably need to round out the... well, the round bits of people... like the hips, legs, cheeks, arms, et c. to get a pleasing result. Whatever you decide to do, enjoy the process and keep the art fun for you. If you are drawing for personal pleasure and get frustrated because you can't get your figure proportions right and decide to trace, so be it. :) In the long run you might decide you want to figure all that out for yourself, but like Elankat said, "Who cares?". It's your artwork. Do what you want.

tarpalsfan
04-17-2009, 02:30 PM
When I practice anatomy drawing and get 'stuck' and after I have tried figuring out my mistake other ways-(turn the drawing upside down and compairng to the original, mirror, ect. ) and still can't figure out where the problem is-then I place a sheet of tracing paper over the reference and trace the trouble spot-then I can put the tracing on a sheet of white paper and see the basic shape of whatever it is I'm trying to draw. It also helps me 'see' negative space. Also, I do trace rough doodles to clean them up. Tracing can be a useful tool, in my opinion. :D

Vyrt
06-28-2009, 02:21 PM
I don't see a problem with tracing if it's your own image or, as with Kathryn's idea, if you get stuck on anatomy it never hurts to get a traing second opinion.
Some of the best fantasy artists trace their own sketches. I'm pretty sure I saw (in one of his books) that Boris Vallejo traces photographs of his models and places them onto his canvas.

tarpalsfan
06-29-2009, 01:19 PM
I don't see a problem with tracing if it's your own image or, as with Kathryn's idea, if you get stuck on anatomy it never hurts to get a traing second opinion.
Some of the best fantasy artists trace their own sketches. I'm pretty sure I saw (in one of his books) that Boris Vallejo traces photographs of his models and places them onto his canvas.I have been doing some drawings in succession, I draw the first by hand, then transfer that rough drawing so that I can start the second(and third) from the first set of 'bones', I am using tracing paper to do the transfer. It sure doesn't seen like a cheat or shortcut to me either-I still end up doing a lot of new drawing-the proportions however, do stay about the size I need them. I guess today most people can use thier computers for the transfers, I still use tracing paper. :evil: I didn't know that my Favorite Boris traced from photo-do I think any less of Boris? Nope! Tracing paper is another useful tool for the artist:)

Osyran
01-19-2010, 06:26 PM
Bear with me hear, as I did not read the entire thread. As an artist who takes a little pride in some ability to draw from memory, I must admit that most art is only as good as your reference (or references, as it were). While I may trace a part of photo, I tend to draw it directly to the canvas instead (by using the same eye balling techniques artist have used for centuries - with a pen, the end of your brush, or grid form of some kind).

After a while, photos of any model I wanted, never quite have everything I'm looking for. For my part, I'll use a mannequin. However, I understand that these important tools can be quite expensive. Consider this: if you paint or draw near a computer or use one for any of your references try using a modeling program like Poser 3d, then you can print out your own reference that you manipulated into the position you wanted. I even purchased additional addons to the program, like better models (Mike and Victoria), additional skin textures and the skin suit or other clothing. I use the skin suit for proportion and shading or to define features of the body as needed. When I paint or draw my piece of art, I will always put clothing (or armor) on the model directly on the canvas.

It takes time and practice to master your art. Since the thread was started lots of years ago, I hope you got everything you needed to perfect your art work and ability. :)

For a cheaper method of directly copying a photo or scene, have a half-inch grid printed to a piece of acetate (sized appropriately to your canvas). Looking through the grid and laying the drawing to your gridded canvas will produce specularly realistic paintings. And that without tracing.