Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Is Tracing a Technique?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Is Tracing a Technique?

    Hello to everyone out there! I recently saw this "debate" I guess you could say posted in a Facebook group and it got me thinking. The post was that of a group member suggesting us to watch a video on how tracing techniques could be used to help improve your drawing skills. There was quite the lively response to it, seeing as how a few angry members thought that tracing is to drawing what plagiarism is to writing and that it should be not be encouraged whatsoever.

    There was also a few members who argued in favor of it, saying that it could help out with learning how to draw shapes, how to get familiar with them, how to draw the shapes of the human figure and also get some insight into how an artist puts together their art.

    So I present this question to everyone here on PencilJack, because I'm curious to read your opinions about this topic.

    Is tracing a valid drawing technique? What can we learn from it if anything?

    Also, if this has already been mentioned in the forum, I'm very sorry. Have a great one!
    https://www.deviantart.com/nygma85

  • #2
    When I was in second grade, I got a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic by the original creators. This is right around the time the first movie was released, so there was a lot of hype about these characters.

    My classmates saw that I had a drawing I created which I traced from the comic book. They loved it and asked me to draw one for them. I pulled out my comic and started tracing again. I was labeled a "copy-er" (for some reason the correct spelling of copier felt wrong when thinking of the diversity of second grade language). I was offended at first, but then realized they were right. I started to realize that I didn't actually know how to draw the turtles without tracing a picture.

    At that point I started studying the way the turtles were drawn. How many folds did they usually put into the wraps the turtles wore? What shapes were common and what shading styles were used for depth? What were the subtle nuances between each turtle and how were they differentiated (back then there wasn't much variation).

    So for me, in second grade, I learned a life lesson fairly quickly and developed some analysis tactics I still use to this day. Tracing is a valid initial starting off point in art, but if you lean too heavily upon it you never learn WHY the art or reference you're using is a good example.

    So I'm on both "teams". Trace if you are new, but don't let it become your only method of drawing. Learn why the body moves the way it does, what in the anatomy creates the forms you're seeing, and how can you manipulate or even defy the biological rules of human anatomy for the sake of creativity.

    Comment


    • #3
      "Never draw what you can copy. Never copy what you can trace. Never trace what you can cut and paste." Wally Wood

      The thing to remember with Woody was: no one could bury you faster or more completely than Wally Wood. No matter what or who he worked over, by the time he was done, it looked like Woody.

      Neal Adams is another big proponent of tracing. I submit that if all Neal did was trace then everyone who traced would look exactly like Neal. Obviously he brought something to the work that only he had to bring.

      This discussion has been going on since the 1400's. One day, no one could draw a realistic scene. The next day, everyone in the world could draw realistically. The discovery of perspective only explains so much. Something happened and tracing is the easiest most obvious explanation. We can argue prisms or mirrors or cameras obscura but some sort of projection was going on.

      This all suggests it's not the tracing per se but what you do with it. Did you transform and elevate, use it as a crutch or just outright steal and call it your own? My suggestion is learn to draw well enough that you don't need to trace. At that point, if used, it becomes a time saving tool rather than a crutch for incompetence.

      I once had an outdoor funeral scene to draw. I needed four dozen folding chairs in scaled 3 pt perspective, two banks of 24 each. Because I know how to do this by hand, I knew it was at least a full days work, maybe two. As an added bonus, 80% of the chairs would end up covered by mourners, none of whom could be accurately placed until after the chairs were done. Solution? Google Sketch-up.

      I pulled a folding chair from their archive, cut and pasted, adjusted the angle and... bang... two days of work in 20 minutes. Print at size, slap it on a light box, draw the mourners, trace off what parts of the chairs till showed, done. I don't consider this cheating any more than it's cheating to buy pencils, brushes and pens rather than building my own. They call them tools for a reason
      PaulMartinSmith

      Comment


      • #4
        What he said. As with many techniques, if you do it right nobody can tell you did anything at all. The image needs to be consistent, coherent and "whole", and tracing alone won't provide that. You're still going to need to do a lot of work that relies upon your fundamental ability to illustrate.

        The closest it gets to written plagiarism is the copying of someone else's artwork. It's one thing to translate a 3D model or a photograph into a comprehensive illustration. It's another thing to copy or trace someone else's illustration, since at that point you've shifted out of translating from one medium to another. Tracing a photograph or model (and doing it well) still requires some skill and technique. It's like writing a screenplay based on a novel, or watching a movie and then writing a book based on the events... you didn't make it all up on your own, but it's clear that one thing is not the other thing.

        Tracing someone else's illustration into your illustration is a failure of skill and technique, an admission of I can't draw this because I lack skill, so I will copy someone else's drawing versus I can't draw this because it is time-consuming and laborious to no profit, so I will copy a reference to reduce the labor and ensure accuracy while working to ensure that the whole illustration is seamless.
        Last edited by Inkthinker; 01-18-2020, 01:52 AM.
        ONLINE PORTFOLIO
        DevArt


        "If something's getting made, then someone's getting paid."

        Comment


        • #5
          In my very simple opinion.
          Tracing is just another tool, especially good for saving time and getting accurate results.
          BUT if don't think your learn anything from it. You don't really need to break things into shapes, figure out perspective or work out the underlying forms etc when tracing.

          Comment


          • #6
            i was just asking this in a drawing thread i just did. i posted my drawing and a pic of what i traced. i was unsure if it was cheating, because without any skills at all i would not be able to make my traced out line look any good. here is the thread. is this considered okay to do or did i cheat? my goal was to have the correct shape without drawing and erasing grid lines. https://www.penciljack.com/forum/lab...ppy-i-disagree
            "when there's no more room in hell...the dead will walk the earth."

            my drawings
            my crazy music
            my facebook

            Comment


            • #7
              this seems like cheating to me. looks like he put the photo through a photoshop filter and stuck a magneto heaad on it.
              "when there's no more room in hell...the dead will walk the earth."

              my drawings
              my crazy music
              my facebook

              Comment


              • #8
                That cover caused some issues:
                https://www.cbr.com/magnetos-house-o...al-objections/
                artSTATION | deviantART | instagram | penciljack blog

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by sevans73 View Post
                  In my very simple opinion.
                  You don't really need to break things into shapes, figure out perspective or work out the underlying forms etc when tracing.
                  Like hell you don't. If you want the traced elements to blend seamlessly with the original artwork, the best use for tracing is to work underlying shapes and perspective. Once you have the basic form, discard the reference and begin drawing straight so that everything ties together.

                  For my personal experience, I've done more than a bit of tracery on cars, buildings and faces for various projects where it was required that the image be specifically a Toyota MRX, or Samuel L. Jackson, or the Empire State Building. And I had to lean how to do it in such a way as to not make it look like ass. And while I don't know that I did it well, I think I did all right. For example, all the cars in this (12-year-old) comics page were initially traced from various photoreferences:

                  https://i.imgur.com/ImPTwoc.jpg

                  I'll also point out that tracing cars made it a lot easier to freehand cars, as I had learned a bunch about their shapes and forms over the course of it. So by the time I got to this image, I was able to draw all the vehicles without using any photos.

                  https://i.imgur.com/rxTHEuH.jpg

                  That Magneto image is, I think, a good example of how NOT to do it. They didn't add or modify anything about the base reference, just pulled it over wholesale. Personally I'd be concerned about offending whomever that source image represents, since I'm sure those medals and such actually mean something. But near as I can tell, they did very little repainting at all.

                  The artist COULD have used the original base (not sure why you would need to, but you could) and then modified the medals, added more or less decorations, changed up the stitching on the sleeves, especifically that crown pattern that's cleary symbolic of something, removed or modified the sash, and they definitely should have taken out that background and replaced it with something more suitable to the character (flag of Genosha or something, I dunno).

                  I think that's the part that bothers me most about that image, there's opportunities that are completely passed over. I really hope this was some sort of rush job, where the artist got the assignment the same day it needed to be finished. Otherwise it just looks sad and lazy, and potentially litigious (depending on whether the people who that uniform represents get upset at seeing their real decorations and symbols applied to a fictional character).
                  ONLINE PORTFOLIO
                  DevArt


                  "If something's getting made, then someone's getting paid."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by D.C. View Post
                    Ah, and there we go then. It DID get people in trouble.
                    ONLINE PORTFOLIO
                    DevArt


                    "If something's getting made, then someone's getting paid."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      i forgot about the magneto one. but last week i saw this one from same artist and thought it looked kind of photo manipulated.
                      "when there's no more room in hell...the dead will walk the earth."

                      my drawings
                      my crazy music
                      my facebook

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        like 4 photos put together and tweaked in photoshop
                        "when there's no more room in hell...the dead will walk the earth."

                        my drawings
                        my crazy music
                        my facebook

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I personally think if you are tracing or reproducing from an image For commercial work it should be an photo you have taken.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Smitty View Post
                            "Never draw what you can copy. Never copy what you can trace. Never trace what you can cut and paste." Wally Wood

                            The thing to remember with Woody was: no one could bury you faster or more completely than Wally Wood. No matter what or who he worked over, by the time he was done, it looked like Woody.

                            Neal Adams is another big proponent of tracing. I submit that if all Neal did was trace then everyone who traced would look exactly like Neal. Obviously he brought something to the work that only he had to bring.

                            This discussion has been going on since the 1400's. One day, no one could draw a realistic scene. The next day, everyone in the world could draw realistically. The discovery of perspective only explains so much. Something happened and tracing is the easiest most obvious explanation. We can argue prisms or mirrors or cameras obscura but some sort of projection was going on.

                            This all suggests it's not the tracing per se but what you do with it. Did you transform and elevate, use it as a crutch or just outright steal and call it your own? My suggestion is learn to draw well enough that you don't need to trace. At that point, if used, it becomes a time saving tool rather than a crutch for incompetence.

                            I once had an outdoor funeral scene to draw. I needed four dozen folding chairs in scaled 3 pt perspective, two banks of 24 each. Because I know how to do this by hand, I knew it was at least a full days work, maybe two. As an added bonus, 80% of the chairs would end up covered by mourners, none of whom could be accurately placed until after the chairs were done. Solution? Google Sketch-up.

                            I pulled a folding chair from their archive, cut and pasted, adjusted the angle and... bang... two days of work in 20 minutes. Print at size, slap it on a light box, draw the mourners, trace off what parts of the chairs till showed, done. I don't consider this cheating any more than it's cheating to buy pencils, brushes and pens rather than building my own. They call them tools for a reason
                            Wow, I hadn't thought about the benefits of tracing in that way, how interesting. I guess if it's a means of saving time then why not, as long as the end product is yours, very clever. Thanks for the input and the suggestion, it gives a completely different view on the benefits of tracing.
                            https://www.deviantart.com/nygma85

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Inkthinker View Post
                              What he said. As with many techniques, if you do it right nobody can tell you did anything at all. The image needs to be consistent, coherent and "whole", and tracing alone won't provide that. You're still going to need to do a lot of work that relies upon your fundamental ability to illustrate.

                              The closest it gets to written plagiarism is the copying of someone else's artwork. It's one thing to translate a 3D model or a photograph into a comprehensive illustration. It's another thing to copy or trace someone else's illustration, since at that point you've shifted out of translating from one medium to another. Tracing a photograph or model (and doing it well) still requires some skill and technique. It's like writing a screenplay based on a novel, or watching a movie and then writing a book based on the events... you didn't make it all up on your own, but it's clear that one thing is not the other thing.

                              Tracing someone else's illustration into your illustration is a failure of skill and technique, an admission of I can't draw this because I lack skill, so I will copy someone else's drawing versus I can't draw this because it is time-consuming and laborious to no profit, so I will copy a reference to reduce the labor and ensure accuracy while working to ensure that the whole illustration is seamless.
                              Yeah, I see what you mean here and it goes along the lines of what Smitty said also about using tracing techniques to your advantage as it refers to saving time. It does seem like a valid tool to use now that you've mentioned this information, how interesting. The thing here seems to be that as long as you make the final product your own, then why not use it, I get it. Thanks for the input!!
                              https://www.deviantart.com/nygma85

                              Comment

                              Unconfigured Ad Widget

                              Collapse
                              Working...
                              X