"Dont trace stock photos!" - is that really bad?

Discussion in 'Art' started by Madam Meisaki, May 10, 2016.

  1. Madam Meisaki

    Madam Meisaki Certified Nohrian Scum Defender of Defoko

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    I've heard it over and over, "DONT TRACE! IT HAMPERS DEVELOPMENT!"
    However, I actually tried it and found that... tracing stock photos helped me learn anatomy.
    I can't explain it very well, but here is my last drawing before I started tracing
    [​IMG]
    Now, here's my latest drawing after I starting tracing (keep in mind that this particular picture is not traced)
    [​IMG]

    Do you see the improvement? That last picture is only a doodle btw. Just-- the stuff I can now do as just a doodle looks so much better than what I tried to work on for hours before, because I've learned more and developed. Tracing didn't hamper me, in fact, it helped a ton.

    However, what do you think? Do you think I only improved because I kept at it? Do you think the tracing helped?
     
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  3. partial

    partial it's nothing Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    I think tracing stock photos is fine so long as you link back to it. I used to trace covers of manga. It was helpful, but when I got to drawing things alone I really struggled. Glad it helps you though. I don't see anything wrong with tracing.

    Nice art, btw.
     
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  4. ★M3ROKA★

    ★M3ROKA★ .Puri Supporter Defender of Defoko

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    forgive me if I come across muddled OTL

    I don't think it's a bad way to start off if you are just starting to learn about anatomy. However relying on tracing for too long will slow down your learning process and will make you dependant on it (there was a person like this in my university course believe it or not - it affected their confidence pretty badly because they felt they could only do good work when tracing.)

    I've met people that had never drawn before and only used 3D programs and my tutors advised them to trace over various photos to understand reality better, before moving onto referencing properly. There is a massive difference between tracing and referencing. The act of referencing is training your eyes to perceive the shapes and negative space. It's always a must for any artist! Always, always when I'm doing commissions or serious works, I will gather a couple of pose references and even get someone to take pictures of myself in the pose I want if there is no good pose references available.

    I would highly recommend you start practising with reference properly. When referencing, have your image in a corner on your canvas and keep looking at it every couple of seconds (i know it seems like a silly thing to say but you don't know how many times people got told off for not looking at their reference in my classes; this video might help: )

    Never ever trace over other peoples artworks and then present the work as your own, because that would be copyright infringement and you could get in trouble. Not only that but you would be learning that artists own mistakes in the process.
     
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  5. Madam Meisaki

    Madam Meisaki Certified Nohrian Scum Defender of Defoko

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    Of course, I completely understand never to trace artwork! I mean to trace over photos, like I said. I have tried referencing for many years and am only starting to get the hang of it -- barely.
     
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  6. poponye

    poponye tiniest lifeboat Defender of Defoko

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    I used to trace artwork ALOT and since my really crappy drawings from last year, I have improved so much
     
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  7. Flavio Riama

    Flavio Riama Momo's Minion

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    I always try to get a reference. Sometimes I take some photos of myself for it. It works for me.
     
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  8. Iris Dragonoure

    Iris Dragonoure Your Local Seventeen Trash Defender of Defoko

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    Sorry for bumping.
    I take pictures of my hands to make my drawings look half decent.
     
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  9. Truly

    Truly Teto's Territory

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    I actually had the opposite experience (more like what the OP is suggesting), where I'd trace a frame from a manga or anime, and it would help me get a handle on the flow of the lines and the techniques to reproduce the style again. It helped with muscle memory of "This is how you draw a line" and I was able to use it again and again (adapting it, of course.)


    The issue with tracing had always been a matter of plagiarism, had it not?
     
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  10. AsheNeff

    AsheNeff Momo's Minion

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    honestly; i trace AND reference. It gets me to the point where im confident enough to actually draw on my own. I have a problem with lines being sketchy even before ive made up my mind what to even draw; so tracing a pose or the shape of a hairstyle (or hands. just **** hands ok?) gets me over the hurdles that will keep me from working on the other bits which i can just reference. I've also mostly drawn fashion design for a couple of years now so im used to being 'allowed' to trace croquis and just focus on the clothes

    Drawn in the style of Adventure Time for a friend; using three reference photos but no tracing

    Drawn using runway photos for reference and someone else's free-to-use croqui base

    80%-85% traced from photos and a base I posed in DesignDoll; scrapped design
     
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