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View Poll Results: How do you feel about tracing from reference images?
Tracing is cheating. I never trace. 43 12.11%
Nothing wrong with tracing, but I don't do it. 48 13.52%
I trace all the time. 38 10.70%
Sometimes I trace, sometimes I don't. 150 42.25%
Doesn't matter to me either way. 76 21.41%
Voters: 355. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-09-2012, 05:07 PM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

My teacher in my watercolor class yesterday passed out tracing paper. We were painting glassware (except me cuz I never do what I'm supposed to). She said many people would find it hard to freehand all the shapes and reflections in a glass and, to avoid using the entire 3 hours of class time trying to draw, we could just trace it and get to painting. She even demonstrated how to trace and transfer to our paper for those who hadn't done it before.
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Old 03-09-2012, 05:17 PM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

Quote:
Originally Posted by pumkin54
My teacher in my watercolor class yesterday passed out tracing paper. We were painting glassware (except me cuz I never do what I'm supposed to). She said many people would find it hard to freehand all the shapes and reflections in a glass and, to avoid using the entire 3 hours of class time trying to draw, we could just trace it and get to painting. She even demonstrated how to trace and transfer to our paper for those who hadn't done it before.


Last edited by painterbear : 03-09-2012 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 03-09-2012, 07:32 PM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

Pumpkin... I teach 6-week Workshops through the Cultural Centre in my area... and I do exactly that... I encourage everyone to strengthen their drawing skills, but in the interest of time, I also have them trace the subjects we're painting... I'm there to teach watercolour not drawing.

I also prepare a handout that instructs how to make your own graphite paper.
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:03 AM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

[quote=pumkin54]My teacher in my watercolor class yesterday passed out tracing paper. We were painting glassware (except me cuz I never do what I'm supposed to). She said many people would find it hard to freehand all the shapes and reflections in a glass

I dont see problems with glas

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Old 03-11-2012, 03:08 PM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

I do not trace someone else s work, but I do trace my own to move it from the sketch pad to the canvas. I would rather have a good edit on the pad than a bad one on the canvas.
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Old 03-11-2012, 03:14 PM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

Just watched a new watercolour video by Lian Quan Zhen. He started by showing how to trace your reference

Doug
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Old 03-12-2012, 06:55 AM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

That is fascinating! I just looked at his website and his paintings are awesome! Wow, what he can do with Chinese materials is very inspiring.
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:35 AM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

It doesn't matter to me either way.

The guilt feeling comes from defending yourself that you cannot draw free hand and that it's okay because accdg by history like whatever...it's alright.

I think we all artist must know how to draw basic skill of drawing...you makin other artist angry by that...they spent countless hours and years.

I'm not intimidated if I trace or grid whatever...because I'm confident I can draw free hand. Now, I'm in a hurry and deadlines are killin me plus household chores chokin me....those stuff are by bff.

If you know what you're doing is right...you don't have to feel guilty about anythin.


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Old 04-13-2012, 05:50 AM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

Quote:
Originally Posted by Afriqueen
If you are tracing to avoid learning to draw, then I think that's a bad thing. Drawing well is the foundation of good painting. Even someone like Picasso, who painted weird and wonderful distorted images knew how to draw well. Poor drawing is the one thing that spoils an artwork - no matter how good your brushwork/color work is. But if it's just a case of speed or expediency, I don't have a problem with it.

For those who are struggling to draw accurately, don't give up trying to learn. Everyone can learn to draw - it is not some mythical inherited ability, it's a matter of keen observation.

So true!
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Old 04-13-2012, 07:53 PM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

Not this tired old chestnut again.

To cheat:

1 [ no obj. ] act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, esp. in a game or examination: she always cheats at cards.

Where is it carved in stone or written down in law that art may only be performed in one way? If tracing bothers you, don't do it. If you teach art by all means encourage your pupils to learn to draw, but recognize getting an image on paper or canvas is not as important as the finished piece. If Vermeer were alive we could ask his opinion.
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Old 04-13-2012, 10:06 PM
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Lightbulb Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

When I took up watercolours about 13 years ago my early efforts were quite dismal. I suspected that I just didn't know what things really looked like, what made them look the way they were. I packed my gear and spent several months traveling down the US west coast drawing everything from insects, rocks, trees, the seashore, etc.

At the end of this I tried a little watercolour still life and was amazed at how good it was compared to my earlier work. The difference was dramatic. After I moved to Oz I took up life drawing, going to sessions 1-3 times a week for several years. I've also spent some time at life drawing sessions more recently.

I feel that drawing from life makes a huge difference in understanding form, what makes something look like what it is, understanding grace, proportion, flow, integrity, richness of form and line etc. One doesn't learn this from tracing or copying from a photograph.

A tracing tells nothing about how light illuminates a form, and many photographs don't tell much either. Tracing also tends to smooth out nuances, to rob contours of their subtle richness, giving a lifeless 'smooth bar of soap' look.

However I trace all the time for my drawings and paintings. It helps me get down the basic proportions and contours quickly, then I often spend hours making adjustments to get nuances that the tracing could never duplicate, and more hours modeling form of which tracing is mute.

Why spend all that time in the mechanical process of getting basic proportions and contours down when there is so much more artistic work to be done?

However sometimes tracing is counterproductive. The bowl of peppers here was drawn freehand. Of course there's not much concern about accuracy here, but there is a problem with edges where form shadows and cast shadows merge and other lost edges.

Tracing would create edges where there aren't any and that isn't what's there. Even when I do trace I often pay attention not to introduce hard edges where they're soft.

It may not be obvious be there is considerable nuance to those simple forms to try to give them some subtle visual richness. As mentioned above, tracing would also tend to smooth out the contours on the peppers, robbing them of some of their 'life'.

So tracing to me is just one artistic tool. There's so much to be done in a drawing or painting that I think it's better for most people to trace and then concentrate their effort on the more artistic aspects.

FWIW

db
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:14 AM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

The age-old question......

I haven't read all the thread just this page, and I just want to say, brilliant well-considered reply Don, it presses some buttons for me. Thanks for posting
I really don't care whether people trace or not. I love drawing too though, and am enrolling in life-drawing classes again next term for those reasons that your express above.
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Last edited by Lulu : 04-14-2012 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:45 PM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

I just ordered a book on drawing written by a fellow WetCanvas member. Carrie Stuart Parks book “Secrets of Realistic Drawing” should be of great benefit in my current project. It's probably not necessary that every painter must learn to correctly free-hand draw, but in some cases it is an absolute given. I would not discount the idea that improving one's drawing abilities will make them a better all around artist and painter. That said, if tracing fits what you are doing keep doing it, but it is not a one size fits all deal.
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:38 AM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

If that's what it takes to get you started then go for it. Once you are on your journey, you will decide when and if it is right for you. If it feels like cheating to you, it is. If it feels like you need it to move forward, use it. Hope this helps. Cheers!
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Old 05-23-2012, 06:49 AM
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

A rather interesting variance in opinions.

I'm still young, but today I finished one of the first portaits I have been over halfway satified with. It's far from perfect, but it is 100% freehand, it makes me feel like I have created the whole image. Possible to argue that you do the same with tracing, but I just don't see it in that way. Like many others, I was bought up around the mantra that tracing is cheating. I still agree - to an extent.

Everyone has a right to paint how they want to. Many people will only
trace pictures, enjoying the accuracy and nice base that tracing gives you. Many others draw only freehand, or mix and match. I only draw freehand now, but I used to trace a fair bit to get assignments in on time, and up to a quality I was happy with.

However, during that time of mostly tracing, I learnt almost nothing. I was just basically replicating the images with my own little touches, and not really understanding the space and form and little subtleties that make something look 3D behind it. As soon as I stopped tracing, I improved a lot. Still far from perfect, but taking of the tracing training wheel has been a huge benefit.

Basically, my personal thoughts are : If you trace, good for you - some of the most impressive paintings are tracings, or partial tracings. But if you NEVER draw freehand, at least give it a go. Even a preliminary sketch of a picture that is to be traced can benefit the piece, and loosen up your work.
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