Is it ok to trace?

Home Forums Critique Is it ok to trace?

This topic contains 23 replies, has 21 voices, and was last updated by Hcameron08 3 years ago.

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    Instead of observing the figure and redraw them I traced over the figures. Will doing this help me in any way?

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    Well, I´m convinced that it boosts confidence and improves muscle memory.

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    Well, Romi, for lack of a better word, what is your current goal for this evening? What are you trying to get out of, from your tracings?

    Hope you'll find this helpful.


    @Satanski Thank you, that's good to hear. It sure does boost confidence. I tried to observe and draw but the results are so bad they really discouraged me to keep drawing. It would be great if I can learn a thing or two while tracing like this.


    @Polyvios Animation I was trying to simplify the figure and seeing it as shapes and flows instead of a bunch of muscle tangled up in each other. And I kinda hope I can learn some proportion and composition along the way (sorry if it doesn't make sense, english is not my first language)


    Tracing is a legitamate form of learning how to draw. You should work on drawing by finding the shapes in the figures after tracing them to help.

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    Definitely not in the beginning and intermediate stages of your figure drawing life. I disagree with some of the other posters. I don't think you learn much by tracing. If you are an expert would say that it's OK to use it once in a while as a time saver when you have already mastered drawing and proportion, but even then, don't make a habit of it.

    A. M. Schaer


    I would say tracing can help, but only if you do freehand drawings as well. trace a pose in the simplest shapes you can, look at the shapes and try to commit them to memory, and then try to draw the same pose freehand, without looking at the traced version. after one or two of those, you'll probably feel more confident, which is when you move on to only drawing freehand for the rest of that practice session to apply and add to what you've learned.

    Hope this helps!


    Hello. I personally think it is ok to trace for exercise especially in some poses with foreshortening and it will help you to some extent but you should try to draw from observation most of the time.

    Good things: line quality

    Bad things: gesture in some poses

    Overall: You need to practice gesture. It looks like you are aware of gesture judging by some lines I would reccomend you to check out proko, glenn vilppu and maybe michael hampton on youtube. Proko has a videos where he explains gesture and a demostrational video, others have videos where they just draw.

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    And I kinda hope I can learn some proportion and composition along the way

    I would suggest learning composition separately from human anatomy, since trying to learn these two things simultaneously would lead to a host of problems and disappointment (in my opinion).

    I highly recommend looking up Marco Bucci's "10 minutes to better painting" series on Youtube, where you'll learn composition, color, and lighting. Try drawing still life (objects), until you're comfortable.

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    • Dmh edited this post on March 31, 2020 5:00pm.

    Yes, tracing is helpful for difficult poses, if you're just beginning to draw, or rusty. Of course eventually you'll want to move away from tracing, but to get the general proportions down, it is a good technique.


    I'd say for a beginner artist, it's ok-ish to trace. But only to really feel the form of the object/form you're tracing. I would recommend doing a trace first, then trying to draw it just from reference, without a trace. That's a really good way to practice just the really simple basics on drawing.


    In my opinion, it is ok as an exercise toward learning about composition and proportions. First, I want to state that it is only as a means to a goal of you developing your vision. Second, i hope you asked the question because you believe tracing will improve your knowledge of those factors, not because you do not appreciate your freehanded vision. After the trace, i would recommend repeating again with just your version of what you see.

    Let me state that any and all efforts of an individual put to paper is a worthy and beneficial step towards achieving a person's journey to improvement of an artist, no matter how primary it may look. IT IS A STEP! Accept it as such, and continue to develop YOUR vision of art.

    i look forward to seeing your interpretations of the world.


    I am in no way an expert, but I dont think there's anythig wrong with doing it. When I wanted tondraw something I started with tracing it, and I found that tracing the same figure or person or expression gave a kind of muscle memory. It made it essier to understand what inwas trying to draw and more importantly gave me a sort of understanding on how to do it. I would say go for it if you are starting to draw, but once you feel capable of drawing what you want to draw withouth having to trace you should try to do that.
    Also sorry for any spelling kr grammar mistakes, i hope you understand what I'm trying to say


    Yes. As long as its intention is for self improvement and not content you claim as your own. Any drawing you do whether it be tracing or from life, will help you grow as an artist. Tracing is useful when trying to better understand anatomy, perspective or the structure of any subject. That being said you still need to focus on rendering from observation. Even if you dont feel like the drawings look correct, you are working out a "muscle" in a sense. The more you do it the more you are strengthening that "muscle" and improving as an artist overall. It all depends on how advanced you are as an artist right now. If you are tracing for accuracy of your anatomy but you havent grasped the proportions or the underlying shapes then your are jumping ahead of yourself. But again, Yes, tracing will help you improve.


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