Can Tracing Art Help In Learning It?
Quite often beginner artists get discouraged from tracing existing images. With the justification, that it is some how wrong or worse still cheating! Yet, there are two points which I feel can justify using ‘tracing‘ as part of your learning process.
- When using tracing as part of the study process, opposed to ‘copying‘ the work of another artist. It is an effective way to train your eyes to judge proportion and placement. And learning how to compose objects from lines, shapes and tones.
“learn to trace only the important lines…”
- The act of tracing is a confidence builder. Allowing you to approach a complicated image, by focusing on the most important lines. When tracing it is easy to fall into the trap of tracing every line, but this is not ideal. Instead, try to learn how to trace only the important lines. The ones that separate major forms, object edges and large tonal changes.
So, in summary. Tracing is a good exercise when learning to draw. But it is important not to rely on the process itself. A useful exercise involves, first tracing an object. Then comparing that to the original, trying to find errors, issues and omissions.
Once you have a nice tracing, should you put away the tracing but keep the reference image to hand. Then draw the image without tracing. This will improve as you learn to ‘see‘ the lines in your subject that you are drawing.
You can also build your ‘mental library‘ by putting away both the tracing and the reference image. And trying to draw the image from memory. This WILL improve your drawing skills.
So… Use tracing as an exercise but don’t rely on it.