Tracing accusations. How to deal?
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    Tracing accusations. How to deal?

    Seriously. If you've ever had this happen to you, how do you deal with it? I'm asking because I'm currently in the process of drawing my boyfriend's car realistically from reference. I constantly measured and compared my drawing to the reference (drawing being in my sketchbook and the ref on my computer screen) and when I finally finished the linework, I scanned it and placed it over the reference. It turned out pretty accurate apart from a few minor flaws.

    Now, I have a feeling that when I present it to him, certain members of his family will question my ability and say that I traced it, to my utmost frustration. I've little to no idea how to deal with this, as I've had to deal with it before with a portrait and kind of failed to defend my case back then. I'm curious to know how others deal with this, or do you simply ignore the accusation?

    Here's the picture in question. I suppose the only defense I have is the skewed license plate which I obviously failed to get right.

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    I don't mean to come at you from right angles, but why didn't you trace it? As a learning exercise, drawing an accurate outline from careful measurement of a photo probably has some value. I guess. But for a presentation drawing, there's not much difference between them.

    Tracing is bad not because it's "cheating" but because it's boring (and because you learn very little from it). When an artist looks at an object, tries to absorb what he's seeing and then distill that onto paper, the struggle to comprehend is what makes the result exciting (if you're lucky).

    Getting a paintover or tracing to look halfway interesting is very advanced stuff.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoat View Post
    I don't mean to come at you from right angles, but why didn't you trace it? As a learning exercise, drawing an accurate outline from careful measurement of a photo probably has some value. I guess. But for a presentation drawing, there's not much difference between them.

    Tracing is bad not because it's "cheating" but because it's boring (and because you learn very little from it). When an artist looks at an object, tries to absorb what he's seeing and then distill that onto paper, the struggle to comprehend is what makes the result exciting (if you're lucky).

    Getting a paintover or tracing to look halfway interesting is very advanced stuff.
    Well exactly that, really. I get absolutely zero satisfaction from tracing and seeing as it's a gift for my boyfriend, I want to actually put some effort in, not half-ass it (pardon my French) and I take offense when people think I would. I also see every drawing I do as a learning experience and seeing as I've never drawn a car seriously in my life, this was definitely a good experience. I don't really understand the purpose of tracing as it immediately lowers the value of the drawing in my eyes and it's of little to no good artistically, I think..

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    you could simplify the drawing to make less realistic a bit.

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    Well... it kinda looks like traced, because you can't see any gesture or construction lines. I mean it's too clean. And it's actually just a contour. How did you draw this actually? Did you start by blocking major shapes, you know, using cubes and cylinders and this kind of stuff? Because looking at it right now it reminds me of a contour drawing. If you used method 1 you could intentionally leave part of the car unfinished, so that it's visible that you started with a cube for example and then added other elements... and so on.

    Now, about the actual question, I would recommend you to not say anything. If they don't trust you there's nothing you can do. Better show them another drawing. Or you can add something else to the drawing, something that is not in the photo... or just make it loose. Make it loose. Because it really looks like traced. Give it some life, let some strokes go outside of the contour. Put some perspective lines. I don't know

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    just kill them, they can't accuse you of tracing then.

    but really, I've dealt with the same thing. people that have known you for a long time sometimes get weirded out when someone who's good at art is within their sphere of influence. non-artistic people relegate good artists into the realm of godliness or something, it's weird.

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    I googled a random car sketch to show you what I mean. You can't accuse this guy of tracing, because you can see that he started by making a grid and the lines are not so clean.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Vari View Post
    Well... it kinda looks like traced, because you can't see any gesture or construction lines. I mean it's too clean. And it's actually just a contour. How did you draw this actually? Did you start by blocking major shapes, you know, using cubes and cylinders and this kind of stuff?
    I drew it using a base line which I placed on the reference in Photoshop and a base line in my sketchbook, using that as a reference point and building everything up from there. Simply measuring the distances and heights of different points as opposed to each other and then drawing the lines inbetween them. I believe there's a name for this method but I can't recall it right now.

    I simply work clean, I hate it when there are construction lines all over my drawing unless I'm actually going for that particular style. If I don't need them anymore, I erase them, that's why most of my sketches are fairly clean as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FourTonMantis View Post
    just kill them, they can't accuse you of tracing then.

    but really, I've dealt with the same thing. people that have known you for a long time sometimes get weirded out when someone who's good at art is within their sphere of influence. non-artistic people relegate good artists into the realm of godliness or something, it's weird.
    So true. My drawings are so amateurish by CA standards, but friends who are not interested in art are like "whoooooah! Dude you are so good". And I say "Thanks, but not really. My stuff is awful"... and maybe I sound like an elitist or something, but it really is and the compliments make me uncomfortable, because I know that my drawings are not that good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lhune View Post
    I drew it using a base line which I placed on the reference in Photoshop and a base line in my sketchbook, using that as a reference point and building everything up from there. Simply measuring the distances and heights of different points as opposed to each other and then drawing the lines inbetween them. I believe there's a name for this method but I can't recall it right now.

    I simply work clean, I hate it when there are construction lines all over my drawing unless I'm actually going for that particular style. If I don't need them anymore, I erase them, that's why most of my sketches are fairly clean as well.
    Yes, but it still looks traced. Even if it's not, it gives that impression. Look at the side mirrors... I don't know if they are called like that... they are just contours. They look flat, empty. Now look at the photo. They are not flat. They have a cylinder-like shape... they are curved. But in your drawing they are completely flat. You draw only the outlines. You see what I mean? Look at the mirror of the sketch I linked. There you can see the shape of the mirror. You can see the planes, the curves. It's not just an outline and it gives a better and more accurate impression of the real shape. That's what is missing in your drawing. Planes, actual shapes.

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    I would just explain how you did it. If they don't believe that, then that's their problem.

    @stoat: The reason that I would not recommend tracing from the photo is that the camera tends to distort the image and flatten the image. That's why it's always recommended to work from life. Now, a lot of artists who do work from life can use the photo, but they know how to correct for the camera issues.

    Dougie

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    Suppose my only hope is to save some progress shots, lol.. I upped the contrast to hopefully show you the remains of the base line below the car. It's very vaguely visible but yeah, that's how I did it..



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    Aww.. sorry about my earlier comment. I thought you showed us the final drawing in the OP. This is something different. Ignore my comment

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    my answer to anyone saying i traced?
    go fuck yourself.
    end of story. and yes, that answer is standard. even to family.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDirtSyndicate View Post
    my answer to anyone saying i traced?
    go fuck yourself.
    end of story. and yes, that answer is standard. even to family.
    Even your family in law?

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    Why does it matter what they think? It's my experience that if you make your art fearing what people think or say, you're bound to be disappointed. Make your art for you.

    Do your work your way, make use of honest, valuable critique, recognize compliments, and let the rest fall away.

    You'll do better work and live happier that way.

    Of course, I'm still trying to implement that for my own work, but hey, it's a goal, right?

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    Having just been over there...I think you did a great job with it - I was very impressed with how accurate you got it just based on the reference. I wouldn't worry about what anyone says...take it as a compliment and smile, "Yeah, I didn't trace it but I did a damn good job making it look like it, eh? Now please refer to DirtSyndicate for further comment."

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Having just been over there...I think you did a great job with it - I was very impressed with how accurate you got it just based on the reference. I wouldn't worry about what anyone says...take it as a compliment and smile, "Yeah, I didn't trace it but I did a damn good job making it look like it, eh? Now please refer to DirtSyndicate for further comment."
    Lol I suppose you're right. In the end I suppose what matters is that my bf understands the effort that went into the piece and he's seen me working on portraits first hand, so he'll know .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lhune View Post
    Lol I suppose you're right. In the end I suppose what matters is that my bf understands the effort that went into the piece and he's seen me working on portraits first hand, so he'll know .
    Indeed. No matter what you do your bf's parents will never like you. NEVER! That's how it works

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    It looks good. It doesn't look traced, but it wouldn't matter if it was. Stop worrying. Who cares what other people think?


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    The creators of the Honda Civic have to actually go out into the wild in the natural habitat of the Civic to trace it's lines, using a very advanced 3D tracing tool that's why cars look so smooth. Yep. If they cannot draw a steady line, how can you be expected to? You just need slightly more advanced tracing tools.

    (FYI our brain really is a "tracing tool" it's transferring information whether we are using our hands to touch the object with a pencil or our eyes and sense of depth perception to do so)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vari View Post
    Indeed. No matter what you do your bf's parents will never like you. NEVER! That's how it works
    Haha it's not actually his parents I'm worried about, they're genuinely impressed by practically everything I do ^^. Lovely folks really. It's more other relatives that will show up on his b'day as well as mates and such. I know I shouldn't really care about their opinions but it would still tick me off if they said it. Ah well.

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    I dunno about you but personally I've always been able to draw things very accurately and have never been accused of tracing by non-artists. They're usually just impressed and leave it at that. Tracing is an accusation mostly fellow artists give out - the others don't really know how to tell so they just think you can always draw like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Hoppes View Post
    @stoat: The reason that I would not recommend tracing from the photo is that the camera tends to distort the image and flatten the image. That's why it's always recommended to work from life. Now, a lot of artists who do work from life can use the photo, but they know how to correct for the camera issues.
    Dougie
    And the difference between tracing from a photo and precisely reproducing a photo with measurements is...?

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoat View Post
    And the difference between tracing from a photo and precisely reproducing a photo with measurements is...?
    Difficulty and time. Amateurs value the first highly and the second little, professionals, the opposite.


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    My fiancee's parents aren't too fond of me. Her dad is near impossible to please (he doesn't even care for his own kids all that much) and while the parents are nice to my face (sometimes) they often talk negatively about me when I'm not there. Her dad wanted to be an artist when he was a kid but his parents put him down for it and made it out to be a sissy occupation. They wanted him to be a carpenter or something more 'manly', so he's a little bit disgruntled about that and I've often been nervous about showing him my art because he can be pretty judging sometimes and I do want him to like me.

    I had to come to the realization eventually that he'll either like me or he won't. I can't make him like me. My fiancee has tried most her life (until recent years) to make him happy and do the things he wanted her to do and he would still always complain. There's no pleasing him. So I've just started shrugging off his opinion. I treat him respectfully and kindly, and I no longer care if he sees my art, but I also no longer care about his opinions or his judgments. I just try to enjoy what little time we have left with him (he has cancer) and be pleased with the art I do whether he likes it or not.

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    One of the reasons this looks traced is yes, because it's clean, but also it's got the light, careful feel of someone wanting to get something right more than anything else... and when you do that, you also lose some of the expressive nature of freehand work that people recognize subconsciously.

    As for being berated for tracing, well, I think everyone gets that accusation early on-- if it were me, I'd smile and shrug it off-- it's better to have a quiet confidence in yourself then to give a laundry list of reasons why they shouldn't doubt you. Just my opinion.

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    I had a couple of sketches in a folder, all i got was, "cool, were are you copying this from?"

    i didnt got them from nowhere , is not a copy from an illustration i found on the internet, is my own drawing.

    Is not flattering at all, the opposite, is sucks, because it just means that the standard of work is set so damn low around me that anything looking decent is just expected to being downloaded from the first page of google and copied off. Not because im so damn awesome.

    And more often than not they would be right, how many people i know of that just copy someone elses work from google, tweaks the color a bit and pass it as an original tattoo design? many, much to my grief. Some with illustration degrees, i may add.

    But anyways, if a drawing has structure, shape, and has an unerlying logic to it, it will show, tracing is not a cruise control for good drawings, worry about the drawing being good and rest at ease about everything else

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    Maybe this is not what you're looking for, but from this perspective it seems like you may have picked the wrong thing to draw.

    Why not draw your boyfriend? That would be a lot harder for them to accuse you of tracing.

    And another thing... (this may be getting rhetorical)... but why obsess over getting a drawing representationally accurate? There are some fields in which that is important... illustration (the type of drawings you see in catalogs), obviously. But illustration is not fine art.

    It may have been interesting to do a looser drawing with your own artist's eye as the editor... bringing attention to things, diminishing other things, exaggerating other things. There would have been a chance for your personality to come through the car a bit... and it still could have looked enough like the car to be recognized and understood. Maybe next time?

    In the end, though, I've seen accusations fly about this sort of thing and it's just ridiculous and immature. TheDirtSyndicate had the right idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by p sage View Post
    Maybe this is not what you're looking for, but from this perspective it seems like you may have picked the wrong thing to draw.

    Why not draw your boyfriend? That would be a lot harder for them to accuse you of tracing.
    And another thing... (this may be getting rhetorical)... but why obsess over getting a drawing representationally accurate? There are some fields in which that is important... illustration (the type of drawings you see in catalogs), obviously. But illustration is not fine art.

    It may have been interesting to do a looser drawing with your own artist's eye as the editor... bringing attention to things, diminishing other things, exaggerating other things. There would have been a chance for your personality to come through the car a bit... and it still could have looked enough like the car to be recognized and understood. Maybe next time?

    In the end, though, I've seen accusations fly about this sort of thing and it's just ridiculous and immature. TheDirtSyndicate had the right idea.
    Because my boyfriend would not be interested in having his own face on his bedroom wall, haha. I could draw him for personal practise purposes though, but this is a gift for him, for his birthday .

    I suppose you're right and I do actually enjoy seeing artwork where the artist has applied some artistic freedom to reality, to put it that way, but I'm kind of inexperienced in doing this and I really wanted to make sure it looked good within the time I had. Ah well as said what matters is that my bf knows the effort that went into the piece and that's really all I should care about . So I'll just smile and shrug off any accusations I get if I get them, even if deep down I do feel slightly offended.

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