Do you think it's disingenuous to trace images used in drawings and paintings?

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  1. Dbro profile image91
    Dbroposted 11 years ago

    Do you think it's disingenuous to trace images used in drawings and paintings?

    Many people posting art instruction type hubs will direct the reader to trace an image to be used in a certain art project or painting.  I've always wondered if this wasn't a bit fraudulent. Shouldn't the artist draw the image him/herself?  It brings to mind singers who lip-sync.  What do you think?  Is this a dishonest practice, or is it perfectly ok to do?

  2. duffsmom profile image61
    duffsmomposted 11 years ago

    I would think in a beginning art class this may have a valid purpose. If one traces over a drawing, it gives the the motion and movement of the pencil.

    On the other hand, there is probably a better way to teach art. I guess I really don't know if this is a bad practice and could be an infringement on copyright.

    1. Dbro profile image91
      Dbroposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for your answer, duffsmom.  I teach drawing, but I haven't ever relied on tracing to instruct my students.  Careful observation and lots of practice are the best methods to improve drawing skills in my experience. 
      Copyright is also a worry!

    2. duffsmom profile image61
      duffsmomposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Dbro can anyone learn to draw. I want to draw well so badly and do not know where to start.  Any suggestions?

    3. Dbro profile image91
      Dbroposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Yes, duffsmom, I believe anyone can learn to draw.  The best place to start is to find a good teacher, if that's possible.  Otherwise, there are tons of great books and tutorials on the internet.  The key is practice and motivation. Good luck!

  3. leroy64 profile image65
    leroy64posted 11 years ago

    It was a common practice among artists during the Renaissance.  A Camera Obscura was used to project an image on a wall where the artist had placed a canvas and drew the scene in charcoal.  The canvas was then a base for a painting. Today we call the Camera Obscura a very big pinhole camera.  Anyway, I believe the approach is valid, but it's not what most people expect an artist to do in modern times.

    1. Dbro profile image91
      Dbroposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for your input, leroy64.  I think this tracing practice may have been done by apprentices in a master's studio, but certainly the original drawing was done by an artist  who created the image freehand.

  4. Stickypony profile image66
    Stickyponyposted 11 years ago

    I find it very boring. If you're going to trace why draw at all?

    1. Dbro profile image91
      Dbroposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I agree, Stickypony!  I really love to see people draw for themselves.  Even if the rendering isn't perfect, there is something unique and beautiful in the drawing - something from the essence of the person who drew it.  Do you draw?  I bet you do!

  5. profile image0
    Edliraposted 11 years ago

    Personally think it is more than ok to do so. Not all are good at drawing, nonetheless might be really good at painting, so why limit oneself. and even the tracing in itself is practice, once you have done it enough, u might be able to finally draw yourself the subject one day.

    1. Dbro profile image91
      Dbroposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Interesting observations, Edlira.  I think that proficiency in drawing is something anyone can gain from discipline, motivation, and practice.  I think would be artists short change themselves by not putting in the effort required to learn the skill.

    2. profile image0
      Edliraposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Well, I will have to agree with your remark to my comment. I am guilty as charged smile. I am a hobby painter and I rely to tracing precisely for the reasons you mention, also maybe because as I wrote, I would rather paint then draw smile.

    3. Dbro profile image91
      Dbroposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I didn't mean to sound so preachy in my comment, Edlira.  I think it's great that you enjoy painting so much.  I hope you'll continue with your work and enjoy every minute of it.  I also hope you will consider working on your drawing skills!

  6. KrysDwrites profile image58
    KrysDwritesposted 11 years ago

    Personally, I don't think it's a good idea. When you trace, you're not really learning how to draw. You're merely learning how to neatly copy an image. Lessons concerning form, structure, perspective, light and shadow, and the other important factors that constitute good artwork are ignored. Also, many artists are highly protective of their works and will aggressively protect them. Not only do you face the potential threat of lawsuits, but you also run the risk of losing credit as an artist. Check out, and type the word "trace" or "tracing" into the search. You'll be surprised at the response. Many people consider it theft.

    Most of the time, you'll find that drawing books, drawing guides, and even professional artists and animation studios teach you to identify the basic shapes that make up the form of any given subject. They also suggest referencing photos.

    1. Dbro profile image91
      Dbroposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Great answer! Tracing another person's image and portraying it as your own is quite dishonest and shortchanges the artist who really created it.

  7. LauraTallo profile image59
    LauraTalloposted 6 years ago

    I use both techniques. When I need a piece done quickly, I will trace the outline with graphite paper. When I can take my time, I divide my paper or pastelbord into thirds and draw it. Even when I do the outline with graphite, I usually hand draw all of the lines within the composition.

    This is one of my favorites. I think that it took me about 6 months to do it.

    1. Dbro profile image91
      Dbroposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Lovely piece!  I get it about efficiency and deadlines, etc.  I just worry that drawing skill is eroding with the advent of computer-aided methods.  Without a value placed on drawing, we will lose a uniquely human skill.


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