View Poll Results: Tracing - Is it Cheating? (Read options carefully.)

Voters
73. You may not vote on this poll
  • Yes, always wrong.

    10 13.70%
  • If you pretend you didn't, then it's cheating.

    17 23.29%
  • If you ever traced someone else's work, it's cheating.

    2 2.74%
  • If you traced someone else's work AND lied about it, it's cheating.

    17 23.29%
  • No, you are only "cheating yourself".

    12 16.44%
  • No, it is a legitimate method to making art.

    6 8.22%
  • There is no right, wrong, morality, ethics... so "cheating" doesn't exist.

    3 4.11%
  • Other: Please post your opinion if you pick this.

    6 8.22%
Results 1 to 24 of 24
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    55
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Tracing - is it cheating?

    Do you consider tracing cheating?

    I don't mean bargue drawings or copying using grids or whatnot - I mean, taking a digital photo or other image and painting over it directly or on another layer.

    Issues to consider:

    1 - How is tracing different from copying?

    2 - How is copying different from following a reference?

    3 - Are photos just very accurate "tracings" of "real life"?

    4 - If part of the art of photography is selecting what to leave out and what to include, then could traces be considered on the same level?

    5 - Does creatorship of the original photo matter?

    To elaborate: If Jim takes a photo of a roadside flower, does he "own" the image? What if Bob takes the same photo of the same flower? What if Bob drew/traced/copied the flower using Jim's photo? What if Bob takes a photo of Jim's photo?
    If Jim drew the flower, and Bob took a photo of his drawing, who does it "belong" to?
    What if Bob photographed a billboard instead of a flower? Is he unethical to claim copyright on his photo of a billboard done someone else?
    What about Bob taking a photo of a building? It was designed by the architect, Janeen, who was inspired by a collage put together by Larry which included a key photo by Karen of a tattoo done by Enid on her friend Jim.

    6 - Who does it harm?

    7 - Is it just another way of learning to draw or paint?

    8 - Does intent (what you plan to do with it) matter?

    9 - Does full disclosure of the method make it okay?
    To elaborate: would it be unethical to just apply some digital effect to a photo to make it look like it was drawn? If you made sure to tell people that's what you did, would it be okay?



    I have this sense that tracing is "cheating" but I cannot form a solid rationale for why I think that way. Please, enlighten me!


  2. Hide this ad by registering as a member
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Bryan, TX
    Posts
    332
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    there is no such thing as cheating in art.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Tacompton, WA
    Posts
    1,691
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    To me it's only cheating if you traced it and learn nothing from it....hope that makes sense. I use to trace when I was younger just to see if I can find the flow of how the artist drew, that wasn't easy. The more I trace the more I got the hang of that artist's style, after that I didn't need to trace anymore because I can now do it in my head, but then again it's still the artist's style, so I changed it up a bit, and made it my own. The only thing I got against tracing is if you trace a piece and then take it to another person and said you made it, then I would consider that cheating. Tracings aren't mean to be seen by anyone, it's just your studying of a certain style or piece, that's what I at least think.

    Quote Originally Posted by HuB
    To elaborate: If Jim takes a photo of a roadside flower, does he "own" the image? What if Bob takes the same photo of the same flower? What if Bob drew/traced/copied the flower using Jim's photo? What if Bob takes a photo of Jim's photo?
    If Jim drew the flower, and Bob took a photo of his drawing, who does it "belong" to?
    What if Bob photographed a billboard instead of a flower? Is he unethical to claim copyright on his photo of a billboard done someone else?
    What about Bob taking a photo of a building? It was designed by the architect, Janeen, who was inspired by a collage put together by Larry which included a key photo by Karen of a tattoo done by Enid on her friend Jim.
    Damn I didn't know there was going to be a pop quiz on this. I'm gonna leave this one to someone who know's about copyright laws and regulations.

    If tracing is cheating why do they sell tracing paper! If mp3 is illegals why do they sell mp3 players, I don't know I'm feeling light headed.
    "If you only heard one side of the story, then you must be deaf in the other ear." - Sok N. Wett

    Sok's Sketchbook Thread Last Updated November 25

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Savannah, Georgia
    Posts
    248
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 2 Posts

    Talking

    Is taking a photo cheating? No. Tracing can't be.

    "4 - If part of the art of photography is selecting what to leave out and what to include, then could traces be considered on the same level?"

    I think that's the relevant question.

    Strictly speaking I don't trace. I find nothing wrong with it, I just don't feel comfortable doing it. I would say this: tracing is a matter left up to the conscience. If you feel like its cheating yourself then it is. If you feel like its helping you, then it isn't.



    :edit: After reading the options I need to select threeof them at once.

    If you pretend you didn't, then it's cheating.

    If you traced someone else's work AND lied about it, it's cheating.

    No, you are only "cheating yourself" (up to the individual)...
    "They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds."

    Sketchbook
    Alex Jones

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    1,371
    Thanks
    53
    Thanked 236 Times in 118 Posts
    I think it depends on what you do with the traced picture. Don't go tracing someone else's images (photo or otherwise) and then claim full credit. That's just lame.

    - Tracing is very different from copying because copying trains your eye and ability to transfer information accurately. Tracing doesn't

    - With any image, as soo as the artist creates it, (I believe this stands for photos as well) it is copyrighted to them. Granted you have to be able to prove you created it first, but technically, it's yours from the moment of creation.

    - You could trace over a photo on another layer or whatever, but you really wouldn't learn much in my opinion. I'd still say it's better to copy and train your eye to see what's correct and what isn't. However, you can't say that Vermeer didn't learn much, and he essentially traced with his camera obsucra... so it probably depends on how it's used.

    - A lot of the "issues to consider" are sort of lame and really just get into symantics. 1 and 2 I have already answered, but they should be obvious regardless.

    - 5, 8 and 9... are these rhetorical questions? Obvious yes... If you trace a photo that's not your photo, you better say who took the picture... likewise, if you trace a photo, you better let people know becuase their crits would be very different in those instances. Not to mention, if you didn't take or create the picture you traced over, chances are someone else has seen the original image and will call you on it if you don't give the creator credit... and then you look like a dumbass.

    - 6... well it doesn't necessarily harm anyone depending on how it's used and what it's used for. I think ultimatley one should do whatever allows them to learn the most and get the most bang for their buck.
    www.ArtDL.com

    CA Sketchbooks:
    Members exclusive party:
    Phuzion's V.I.P. Lounge

    Public fun:
    Phuzion Sketchbook

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Hudson River valley, NY
    Posts
    16,201
    Thanks
    4,875
    Thanked 16,685 Times in 5,021 Posts
    If you can't draw well, you can't trace well.

    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    "Work is more fun than fun."
    -John Cale

    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
    -Marc Maron

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Encinitas
    Posts
    1,541
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 11 Times in 6 Posts
    if you trace an image and use it to make money then its "cheating". if you're doing it to learn then its fine by me
    -=[ Sinister Six Sketch Group ]=-
    -=[ Cookiedough Fooxoo |ntern Hyver Character Evildisco]=-

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA US
    Posts
    1,127
    Thanks
    20
    Thanked 78 Times in 51 Posts
    I know of a guy that makes paintings like this - he finds a picture he likes, throws it on some acetate, projects it onto his canvas, traces some contours, fills in areas with flat colors, sells them for like $1000. The only thing he has really worked on as an artist is his marketing. I dont think he ever has a real intention of studying art any further than this. But art is so opinionated and subjective you can't really say he is not an artist. After all he is a least selling his artwork. So I dunno. He definitely cheapens the hard work and effort that some people put into their artwork.

    Edit: I also wanted to say that tracing isn't necessarily all bad for studying, you just I think should analyze the image the same way that you would if you were drawing from life or reference.
    Cave House Studios - creative animation and video
    What the Sketchbook

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Montreal, Canada
    Posts
    1,334
    Thanks
    3
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    After ruining several books I stopped tracing (I was about 5). My mom told me I was just copying someone elses work and not making anything of my own. I felt guilty and bad and never traced again lol. So I spent my time drawing from reference (namely photos or other pictures). When you trace you don't really learn as much as if you were drawing from a photo and you learn even more if you draw from real life. You begin to develop "an eye" (and great observation skills) for things like proportion, color, foreshortening etc when you do it on your own. Think of it like walking all your life on crutches, you'll never learn how to really walk unless you throw them away and make it on your own. You might suck at first but who cares, practice makes perfect and perfect practice makes a genius (I mean you should always learn from your mistakes not just practice without a purpose). If you're gonna learn through tracing you should do it when you're young or if you're just starting out. I guess my answer is "you're just cheating yourself". Anyways passing a tracing as your own is so gradeschool.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    ok
    Posts
    8
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    tracing cheating

    well affter reading some post it is and its not ...
    to tracing scaning is a time saver i can and have the abilty to redraw my
    work larger but it saves a lot of time if potho copy it inlage it and the retrace it .... think about comic book inkers and colorist thay retrace and add details to existing drawings and get pay for it. hehe stealing is stealing and if you use some one elses work give creadit were it is due.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    YUL = MONTREAL !
    Posts
    3,534
    Thanks
    276
    Thanked 129 Times in 88 Posts
    Quote Originally Posted by HuB
    3 - Are photos just very accurate "tracings" of "real life"?
    NO !!! x 328576347523948572364
    There's nothing better than to work from life. For one, a picture tends to flatten everything. And you lose a lot of the colour spectrum. If you want to practice for the sake of practicing I suppose it's okay. But to learn, I firmly beleive working from life is best. As everyone said before, if you don't learn from doing it, don't do it.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Posts
    1,133
    Thanks
    11
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
    Tracing is not cheating

    Lying IS cheating.

    Lying about tracing, copying, copy-pasting, using other people's 3d models and not telling or giving credit, all that stuff is cheating.

    Tracing and other means are just ways to put an image together which is often done under stress and time-limits -- the most quality work in the shortest time wins commercially and if the end result is good, anything goes. Just tell em what you did if it is not yours.

    Also, it's professional. What will happen if you copy an image by another artist, give it to your employer and they are sued? Not good career wise...
    Power is nothing without intelligence.

    Sketchbook!

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Where winter BITES
    Posts
    201
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    Tracing in itself is a TOOL, not art.
    As a beginer you may start tracing just to learn about shapes and contour and then let yourself go and practice rendering techniques and stuff ('cuz no matter what you trace, it's still a long way to go from a finished product if U concentrate only on linework ).

    It's also a tool to meet production deadlines. If you need to reproduce something from one medium to another and it's due tomorow, why mess around ?? The client wants a finished product...not a work of art.

    Animators trace all the time with absolutely NO dilemas. If I need to assimilate the exact style and construction of a character, I'll often start by tracing it and getting a feel before trying to do poses on my own, just to kickstart the flow of things.

    This , of course, does not include the EVil topic of plagiurism ( did I spell that right ?) This is an entirely different thing and THAT'S cheating...even more so, it's lazy and people who do it need a good public stoning (remember the olden days ??? uh...nevermind )
    Whippin' post

    If there's anything fluffier than a cloud, I don't wanna hear about it.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Sarasota, FL
    Posts
    3,221
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 17 Times in 9 Posts
    if your tracing your own work, to for instance clean up your lines or somthin its fine, but i suggest not tracing anybody elses work... theres no point, it doesnt improve your observational skills and you certainly cant present it as your own.
    Sketch Book
    rook-art.com
    Quote Originally Posted by dogfood
    Sarcasm sometimes grips me like an octopus helmet.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    986
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Tracing is not cheating, nor are grids, photo references, etc. They're all tools used to make art.
    For example, when you were little, you used training wheels on your bike. The training wheels were a tool used to help you ride a bike. As time passed, you figured out how to ride the bike, and no longer needed the training wheels. So, why not keep the training wheels even after you've learned how to ride? If you did, you'd never risk the chance of falling, or loosing your balance. Its because you felt they were belittleing, because training wheels represent not knowing how to ride a bike. It was a matter of pride, honor and morals.
    See the connection there? As most of us become more experienced artists, we no longer need, or want to use tools (Or drawing aids). So, if you want to trace, then go ahead. Someday you will want to create something original...something that is completely yours and no one elses.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    55
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    I really liked hearing all of your opinions - it helped me rethink the whole tracing thing. I already knew the answer to some - like the difference between tracing and copying and photography but I thought some of your answers might lead to a new insight.

    This is what I've come to conclude after hearing your opinions:

    The first thing it made me realize is that by even posting the poll, I "unconsciously" considered tracing to be a form of "cheating" but now I realize that was plain foolishness. Why should tracing be cheating? Lying about it is cheating. Otherwise, I think it is a legitimate form of art. Can't remember which of Kevin Smith's movies it was (mallrats? chasing amy?) but I recall JasonLee's character getting really pissed off about being called a "tracer". But inkers usually do much more than that, and even if they don't, does that make their work any less valid or valuable?

    For the first time since I was six or seven, I tried tracing a photo - actually painting over one - and it was much harder than I expected. I'm more used to drawing from imagination instead. It was good practice. But I think it can be used for much more than just practice. Again, I fail to remember the name of a movie but it was all painted over live action film using different "animation" styles. It looked really cool but it was mostly "just tracing". I would consider that valid art. (Crap, I don't even remember enough detail to try a google search but hopefully someone knows what I'm talking about - lots of dialogue mostly). Totally valid artform.

    The only time it wouldn't be valid is when you lie about it and pretend you didn't. Hopefully that is easily detected but I think it is hard to prove. That's true for any type of lying. That would be a personal integrity issue mostly. After all, say your client wants some image done in one week and you are totally swamped. You could work from scratch and take 10 hours to do it, or cut the time in half by tracing to start (depends on the artist of course). As long as it's your original work and the client is happy, do they care how you did it?

    If your client did care for some reason - then you should not lie about it.

    Lastly, I don't think tracing or copying other people's work is a problem either as long as you don't sell it or use it for promotion/portfolios or in any way make a profit from it or have any such intentions. If you do, you should always get permission. And of course, plagiarism (which is trying to pass off other people's work as yours) is wrong. Note that tracing other people's work is not plagiarism any more than doing a cover song is (as long as you have permission).
    If I do a "perfect" copy of the Mona Lisa, I am sure there is no problem with me selling it since you'd have to be a moron to think it was the original and Da Vinci's estate as no current claim here. I
    f I do a "perfect" copy of an Alex Ross Superman, there would be no ethical problem if I had permission and paid him his percentage of any sales. (And I do say ethical because in many countries there is no legal problem with piracy)

    Lastly, I also realized my poll options weren't that clear and maybe I should have allowed multiple choices. Ah well, live and learn. I also realize I type too much.

    In summary - lying is bad, plagiarism is bad, and failing to give proper credit and fees/royalties to others is bad. Otherwise, tracing is just a tool both for practicing and for finished products. Whether it is useful is up to the individual.

    Unless... there is something I failed to consider?

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    904
    Thanks
    7
    Thanked 43 Times in 31 Posts
    Why trace? Your cheating your development of your eye and your hand. I know some people are saying it aids learning by doing a complete trace, but it doesn't. Sight-size copy a drawing, side-by-side, something that requires some kind of spatial relationship and measuring in the process, but going right on top of something else will only help to hinder you.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Pacific Beach, CA
    Posts
    1,468
    Thanks
    4
    Thanked 47 Times in 23 Posts
    Tracing can be a hard issue. I think it can help you learn, it helped me learn for a bit. But the reason it helped me was because I was thinking at the same time I was tracing, I didnt just mindlessly trace. So i guess it depends on how you go about tracing. If you are just tracing and not thinking about what you are doing, then its worthless. If you are tracing a pose and there is just some part you cant draw right, such as hands or feeto r whatver, there is nothing wrong with tracing it. Just dont let tracing become a crutch, always sketch from life still and practice without tracing. If you are doing a piece for someone, there is nothing wrong with tracing to speed it up or help you out, just dont let the tracing take away from the creativity of the piece. So in the end, if you are gonna trace, do it creatively and think about it, dont go about doing it mindlessly.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA US
    Posts
    1,127
    Thanks
    20
    Thanked 78 Times in 51 Posts
    I think the movie you're talking about is called 'Waking Life'. Great stuff, one thing also about tracing moreso when tracing photos or making rotoscoping is that you are still analyzing the image and depicting it in your own style. So if you dont have the solid drawing ability behind it you wont be able to simplify the image down like you need to.
    Cave House Studios - creative animation and video
    What the Sketchbook

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Where winter BITES
    Posts
    201
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    HUB - HAHAHA Why didn't you post that in the first place ???
    Whippin' post

    If there's anything fluffier than a cloud, I don't wanna hear about it.

  22. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    nor cal
    Posts
    622
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
    well personally I don't think you learn anything from tracing because you're not thinking about porportions and forms, you're just mindlessly running your pencil over the existing information. The only worthwhile tool of tracing that I can see is to trace an image that you're having difficulty drawing, and then trying to draw from that tracing, since the forms have been simplified into a few contour lines instead of a complex image.

  23. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    41
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    For good or bad, all seems to be fair in love and war . . .

    Oh yeah, and art.
    Steve T. Laws

    Steve's Pics

  24. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    sweden
    Posts
    410
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
    When I do Illu's for money I usually do it like this;

    1) Sketch the scene
    2) take nice looking refpics of the objects I've sketched or something I can translate to what I sketched
    3) trace the photos ( I don't have the time to correct anatomy issues and I like the proportions to be dead on, one less worry). Start drawing.

    The funny thing is that one guy that I have been sending my portfolio to a couple of times always says my anatomy is off and I need more practice. But the anatomy is based on photos ....
    My work as a tattooer www.gallontattoos.wordpress.com

  25. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Ruhrgebiet, Germany
    Posts
    1,644
    Thanks
    4
    Thanked 2 Times in 2 Posts
    IMO it's ok for learning purposes. When I can't make out how lines "function" I sometime trace them - been an eye opener for me quite often.

    Jester
    Imagination is intelligence having fun!

    Jester's Sketchbook

    Portfolio web site

Similar Threads

  1. cheating?
    By Reptile in forum Art Discussions
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: May 30th, 2012, 04:00 AM
  2. i think this is cheating.
    By dirtydiesel in forum Art Discussions
    Replies: 101
    Last Post: May 30th, 2009, 03:32 PM
  3. Art: Am I cheating scum?
    By Paul "Otaking" in forum Finished Art
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: March 21st, 2009, 08:33 PM
  4. Using textures, cheating?
    By Zazulathi in forum Artist Lounge
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: April 23rd, 2007, 05:16 PM
  5. Why cheating is bad
    By Tedsuo in forum Artist Lounge
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: March 6th, 2003, 08:15 PM

Members who have read this thread: 0

There are no members to list at the moment.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Designed by The Coldest Water, we build the coldest best water bottles, ice packs and best pillows.