Legitimacy of photo referencing

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    Question Legitimacy of photo referencing

    So I have a question for you all. I wanted to create a mix media image that incorporated my traditional drawing and coloring style, but also my photography. To do this I set up my model in the nude, took a photo and then digitally traced her into a background and added appropriate clothes, hair, etc. I really like the way it's looking, I like that she looks realistic but is in a more illustrated backdrop (ala CoolWorld). But of course a part of me feels weird about tracing. It feels... icky, like I'm cheating. I certainly can draw people and often do. But I'm not to the point where I can create photo-realism, nor am I terribly interested in doing so.

    I know many artist use light boxes, which is similar to using layers in Photoshop. I don't own a light box myself. But the anxiety still lingers. Is tracing my own photography a legitimate technique? Is it okay as long as I'm upfront about it...? I don't know. What are your thoughts?

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    If it's your own reference I see no problem.

    It kinda sounds like you want to make it some kind of drama though. The same kind of tedious drama that has been discussed at essay length here for about a decade..
    Search button..? Click it.

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    Oh no no, I really don't. I may be being paranoid, but the idea of it is genuinely bugging me and I wanted to ask people who would understand my hesitation.

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    I'm not understanding why this is "drama". I think it's a completely legitimate question. Sorry if it's well tread ground for other people.

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    Hesitation for what?

    Your own ref, created by you is always a legit source of reference.

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    Do we really need THREE concurrent threads about this (not to mention the one in the stickies)?

    Short answer, do whatever the hell you want. Or don't. The Art Police aren't going to come bashing your door down either way.


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    Okay, okay. Jeez, sorry. I didn't see the sticky. I'll go read that.

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    If you don't plan to lie about or gloss over your process then who are you cheating?

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    Quote Originally Posted by vineris View Post
    If you don't plan to lie about or gloss over your process then who are you cheating?
    I guess I'm just hung up on the tracing. I haven't traced anything since I traced my hand to make Thanksgiving turkeys in grade school. Because I'm not fully rendering the image from scratch- I guess I feel guilty, like it's a shortcut.

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    It's YOUR shortcut, you didn't steal anyones hand did you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flake View Post
    It's YOUR shortcut, you didn't steal anyones hand did you?
    No, I suppose not. Point taken. :/

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    If you're using something you have created (photography) and building upon it to create something different, then great. Do what you wish as long as you are not dishonest. It's not cheating and the concept of cheating to create an illustration or whatever is kind of silly in my honest opinion. Use whatever tools you want, as long as they are your own, to create whatever kind of art you want.

    The only cheating that would be going on is if you really have a desire to learn how to draw figures but constantly use shortcuts and deny yourself the opportunity to learn. That would be cheating yourself. You can do however many photo collages you want as long as you are diligently and honestly working towards your goal, whatever that may be.

    Last edited by JJacks; April 5th, 2011 at 02:33 PM.
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    I'm sure you meant "as long as your are not dishonest". And thank you, It's sound advice. You're right, it is silly of me. I think sometimes I have that "impostor anxiety" where you feel you're a noob in a room full of "real artists". I should get over it.

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    Since a very early age, we're taught to abhor any sort of copying or cheating-- but the fact of the matter is if it is your own reference material, you have nothing to worry about as long as you're up front about it. And it's not about saying "I traced this photo I took--" it's more like "I took the time to get the references I needed for this project and used this photo to create the artwork."

    Just be honest, and don't sell yourself short.

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