Ah! What a hot-button issue among artists! I will admit up front, I don't really like tracing. But I do realize that some talented designers will trace images to get a desired result. They do not consider themselves people who "draw"they are designers. Tracing is perfectly acceptable in such cases.
And, there are other people who are just having fun with drawing, and goofing around with it for their own amusement only. Sometimes they'll trace. Heythat's OK. I don't want to discourage anyone from getting their "feet wet" with creating traced drawings.
However, if you want to claim that you draw or paint portraits, why trace? What's the point? Tracing is like using training wheels on a bicyclefor the rest of your life. It might be a nice way to get started, but do you want to be stuck at that level forever? I know that a whole lot of artists would never trace (and won't use some sort of mechanical assistance to "transfer" a photo onto their drawing paper or canvas). But alas, some artists have to trace for all of their artwork. And I think that they are missing out on a lot, and limiting the things that they are able to do.
If you can only get an accurate drawing by tracing, think of all that you are missing. You can't plop yourself down on the ground in the middle of some beautiful scene (like Yosemite Valley) and do a little drawing or watercolor. You can't sit your friends down on the spur-of-the-moment, and sketch them, just for fun. You can't do quite a lot. Some of my most fulfilling artistic experiences were painting or drawing from life. You just can't get that from tracing, ever.
And, as a side note, if you can't get an accurate drawing unless you use the "grid" method, you might run into some problems as well. It is sometimes very difficult (sometimes impossible) to draw from life using the grid method. (Not to mention a hassleall those squares, squares, squares!) And if an artist who grids does not possess the ability to draw freehand, obviously they can't ever draw or sketch from their imagination, or "make up" images. That's not an artistic asset at all.
just to pontificate a little more on this tracing thing, ask yourself
a few questions. Would any of these following scenarios bother you?
Someone is admiring your wonderful drawing. They ask you, "I have a photo of my grandmother. I would like a portrait with her arm position changed a bit, and her hair fixed a little different. Could you do that?" And you have to answer "No, I cannot do that. I cannot make any adjustments because I cannot draw anything unless I trace it."
You are in an art class. Everyone has seen the lovely artwork you have produced. One day, the teacher brings in a model for everyone to draw. You didn't expect this. You were led to believe that all art projects would be done at home. Everyone else starts to draw the model. You look helplessly at your drawing paper, and produce a rather pathetic, awkward sketch. Your fellow students notice, and look at you with a blend of pity and surprise.
If none of these scenarios (which will happen eventually, trust me) would bother you, then you have your answer. Tracing will get you the results you want, and you don't care about its limitations. But if you suspect that you wouldn't like experiencing any of the above scenarios, the answer is simple. Don't trace. Learn how to draw the with the minimum of mechanical assistance. You won't regret it. And rememberanyone can trace. All you need is tracing paper, and a photo. But not everyone can draw. Drawing takes skill and practice. Tracing does not.
feedback and criticism:
Not everyone is going to like what you do. Sometimes it's just them, but trust me on this one - sometimes it's you. But oh dear! You worked so hard, you really felt wonderful about your drawing, you worked on it for hours! And they are finding flaws with it? Terrible news.
But sometimes they are right. Sometimes you just didn't see your drawing objectively. You were caught up in the moment, you were really intent on some detail, and you didn't (figuratively) step back and see the "big picture." You didn't see some glaring error that is immediately obvious to everyone else. Don't feel too crushed. It happens to me, it happens to everyone. It's just one of the things we all go through. It doesn't mean you are a bad artist. You just made some errors this time. You'll learn from that. Next time you will do better. And then, at some later date, you'll make some more errors. It's just part of the ongoing process. We all go through it.
So, try to accept criticism graciously, and learn from it. You will progress faster if you do. Don't take it too much to heart. Don't get discouraged. I find that most of us take criticism one of two ways - we get dejected and overly discouraged, or we get indignant, and think that our critic is being "too picky." Usually, neither reaction is really appropriate.
Occasionally, a person will come down too hard on you. They don't understand the great effort and struggle you are going through. Sometimes, a person who has never done any sort of art or craft really has no concept of how challenging it is. They think that you are automatically born with "talent" - this ambiguous thing that just makes beautiful things flow from your fingers, with little practice or effort on your part. And so they think nothing of telling you when they think you've messed up on a drawing. Because it was all so easy for you in the first place, right?
don't get it. Don't take them too seriously. Just keep plugging away.
This whole concept of "talent" is rather overrated. Talent
only takes you so far. It's your hard work, work, work that leads
you to excellence.
be too hard on yourself
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