In this post, I will mainly discuss tracing drawings mainly as a teaching skill, since it’s agreed upon that tracing & claiming it’s yours is wrong & frown upon from almost everybody.
To give you a short answer, tracing drawings & artworks is good if you did it right, if it used it as an educational tool. As long as you didn’t fully depend on it in your journey to become a good artist, then it will benefit you. If you’re already good at drawing, tracing can greatly speed up your working speed, especially when you trace your own things to benefit from what you already created. If you can, I advise you to copy artworks by looking at them to learn drawing, since that can teach you drawing faster.
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If you don’t claim the final drawing or artwork as your own, post it on social media or your art gallery, then tracing drawings is absolutely fine, and you will be able to trace probably any picture out there without sequences. If you’re to post the final drawing online, make it clear that you traced it, and that to only trace the drawings you have the right to (more on that later).
Just like a lot of cases when it comes to drawing, tracing is totally okay as long as you do it for the fun of it, and again, as long as you’re not violating any of the rights of others.
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The main area where tracing drawings is considered a bad thing is when someone trace someone’s else artwork, then claim it as their own. Sometimes without changing much of it, it’s super easy to tell that that drawing was traced by placing the original & the traced artworks side by side. Even if you changed a few things here & there, that won’t be enough. Unlike the case when you use other picture as a reference, it’s much harder to make the traced picture yours by making it yours, not you don’t know how to draw on your own.
The truth to be told, tracing drawings is a useful drawing tool, it can teach you to create lines as you want them, to train your hands, to create the lines & strokes as you see them, while controlling the shakiness of your hand & steady your hands. The key is to not just trace for the same of it, make a mental effort to create good lines. It’s not uncommon for the traced drawing to look stiff, mainly because the lines are traced in a very unconfident & contrived lines. Imagine yourself actually creating the drawing, and do it that way.
Many professionals use tracing to speed up their work. They often trace a sketch they done before, since time is of an essence to them. Professionals already proved to themselves & others that they can produce the art they want without tracing, and they need to get things done. You may want to avoid doing that much during your learning time, as you need to gain experience by repeating the game thing.
The thing is, you could learn anything you do by tracing drawings by simply copying other artworks, or draw the things from real life. All without having to trace anything for any purpose than to speed up your work when you’re in the need for that (by copying, I mean looking at the picture and draw them, rather than placing the picture above the reference).
For that reason, I totally advise you to learn drawing by copying other drawings rather than to trace. It may be harder to do so, but it’s a stage you need to go through if you’re serious about drawing, and the minimum you need to be able to do for that. It teaches you to see lines how they really are, as well as the relations between the lines & the different parts of the drawing, and to duplicate them very well once you spend a lot of time practicing them.
If you think you should start with tracing to learn drawing. Don’t depend on it on it to become better, and don’t get trapped into it. Make sure you get to copying later when you feel like you’re comfortable with drawing many kinds of lines.
The worst part about tracing artworks is the way it’s strongly frowned upon by many artists. Even with the guidelines I gave you in here, there are people who will tell you off if you posted the traced drawing online, you may even get flamed for it, they will tell you that you’re not doing real drawing (and it’s true to a good extent). And that you won’t learn much from it. Many of those people share the same views as the ones I said here, and sometimes in a radical way.
If you draw for the fun of it, as long as you’re not violating the rights of anyone, then no one has the right to tell you what to do. Now I mentioned that, it’s worth noting that some artists don’t want their art to be traced in any way, it’s important to respect their desires when it comes to their own art (that’s one more reason to ask for permission when you trace others artworks).
It’s clear that if you want to trace on your own, without posting it online or anywhere else, then you are allowed to use probably any picture there’s out there, since you’re not hurting anyone by doing so. if you’re to post these traced drawings online, then make sure you take the permission of the artist you trace their art, or use pictures you’re allowed to use, like public domain pictures, I mentioned some of the pictures you could use to your heart contents in my is it bad to use a reference article here.
You may be asking the question “but how about the pictures made by studios, am I going to contact them too?”, the answer is yes, though many people don’t do that, but it’s the safest way to go about it. Whatever the case, you need to be clear with people that you didn’t create the original picture.
While I tried to push you in the direction of copying instead of tracing drawings, as I truly feel that’s the way you should go, feel free to trace you think it will helps you. Or as I like to say:- “It it will make one more person draw, then be it”.
I hope I was able to help you decide whether is tracing bad or not, and to help you avoid some of the issues you may face by doing that, and see you in another article.