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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 05-05-2013, 09:08 PM
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CharM CharM is offline
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

Quote:
Why hide it? If there's nothing wrong with it, why?
Because of discussions just like this one that seem to attach a stigma to those who cannot or choose not to draw freehand.

As far as tracing for portraits, I find that it just doesn't work well. A mm or two here or there throws off the whole likeness. Before drawing out a portrait, I do several sketches of my subject in my sketchbook to try to get to *know* them... it's amazing how this learning stage helps with the final outcome...

Yes, drawing skills ARE important. No, they are NOT necessary to successfully paint in watercolour (or any other medium for that matter).

In the big scheme of things, it just doesn't matter how the line drawing makes it to the paper. As Artists, we need to be supportive of one another regardless how we make marks onto our supports! A little encouragement goes a long way.

p.s. I don't use a projector... actually, I draw out most of my work. But when I do feel the need, or laziness has just set in , I use my photo manipulation software to generate a line drawing. Then, I fine tune that before enlarging and using it.
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Old 05-05-2013, 09:48 PM
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mariposa-art mariposa-art is offline
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharM
Because of discussions just like this one that seem to attach a stigma to those who cannot or choose not to draw freehand.
The best way to combat an unwarranted or unfair stigma is to demonstrate why it's unfair. Not by lying or concealing the truth.

Norman Rockwell is a perfect example. He had massive skills, but used a projector to speed along his work. He was open about that and not ashamed. Because he had nothing to be ashamed of. And he was able to demonstrate that.

Those who hide it make you wonder—what are they ashamed of? If there's nothing wrong with it, lying or pretending doesn't make any sense, but rather only reinforces the idea that there is something wrong with it after all.

There definitely are artists who don't draw well and use a projector, and their work is lovely and successful, so in the end no one is going to think less of them.

There are also artists who use tools to compensate for not being able to draw well, but hide the fact. It becomes obvious that they're being deceptive when they get praise for their "drawing skills" and do nothing to correct the misunderstanding. That is deliberate deceptiveness. When enough artists do that, I think that feeds into the prejudice or stigma—that tracing is "faking" or "cheating." The only way to combat that is to always be up front and honest.

Quote:
As far as tracing for portraits, I find that it just doesn't work well. A mm or two here or there throws off the whole likeness. Before drawing out a portrait, I do several sketches of my subject in my sketchbook to try to get to *know* them... it's amazing how this learning stage helps with the final outcome...
I agree with this and find it works that way for me too.

Quote:
Yes, drawing skills ARE important. No, they are NOT necessary to successfully paint in watercolour (or any other medium for that matter).
It depends on the kind of work, and style of work. With some styles, no it absolutely doesn't matter.

In others, it does make a difference and often those with a more critical eye can tell. Just like (so I'm told) some can tell when you paint from life vs. painting from photos. I don't have a sharp enough eye to tell the difference all the time, but sometimes you can tell when someone is using a projector because they can't draw. Little errors in anatomy, little lacks of understanding of structure. Things like copying lens distortion from the photo (bendy walls and such!).

Quote:
In the big scheme of things, it just doesn't matter how the line drawing makes it to the paper. As Artists, we need to be supportive of one another regardless how we make marks onto our supports! A little encouragement goes a long way.
I agree. I wouldn't want anyone to be discouraged from having fun and enjoying art. If that means for some people that they never learn to draw, that's what it means!

But I do think that there are substantial reasons why drawing is pushed on artists as something they "should" learn. Like the reasons some of us have brought up—the ability to fix perspective and anatomy problems that are present in a photo. The ability to "see" better. The ability to draw and paint from life (which gives us "better" color and perspective). I believe that some artists are encouraged too much to rely on photos and rely on "aids" and never fully understand why drawing is so emphasized. I think some artists think that drawing is meaningless busywork, meant to make us feel better because we did it the "hard" way, but having no other real value past that. But that's not true. If an artist doesn't understand the benefits of drawing early in, sometimes they get so fixed in their ways that they don't want to learn it at all, feeling that it's past them, "too hard" or whatever. I don't think that's true and I think it's doing all artists a disservice to downplay the importance of drawing, even if all you want to do is paint, because drawing is part of painting. We "draw" with our paintbrushes.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:38 AM
Undergoose Undergoose is offline
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

I spent many years practicing and being a purist with regards to tracing.

After so much time agonizing over learning to freehand what I see and recognize/maintain proper perspective, I no longer have any qualms about using a projector to quickly establish basic lines.

If it ever becomes a crutch, I'll go back to free-handing for a while.

To be quite honest, we're painters. Stellar sketching skills are nice, but not required. When working in a production environment, any tool that helps you speed your productivity while ensuring accuracy is acceptable.

Not tracing, when working for food, is just silly. It's like not using your hammer to pound a nail because it takes so much more skill to do it with a wrench.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:35 PM
vstevens123 vstevens123 is offline
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

Undergoose, love your comment!
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:54 PM
mlab3 mlab3 is offline
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Re: To Trace or Not to Trace

Sometimes I trace, sometimes I don't.

If there is an intricate pattern or object I usually trace, but the creative juices seem to flow easier without any pre-determined lines on the paper.



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