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For some reason, the term tracing has a negative connotation. Why is this? For some, it is considered a form of cheating, somehow avoiding the time required to learn how to sketch. I consider it to be just another tool available to the artist, like a ruler or French curves. In particular, artwork done under a deadline can benefit from tracing from source material. In the malleable digital realm, tracing can be utilized to quickly communicate an idea. At its best, tracing is merely a framework upon which a more refined visual statement is created.
Now, in this case, I am going to be using Painter, and I am going to be using Layers to do this. So, any application like Photoshop or SketchBook Pro can also do this. This just happens to be in Painter in this case. Now, a technique that I employ here, and I'm going to be using the image that you see on screen as the source image that I'm going to trace from, I've created a special layer that has white in it, and why do I do that? Well, let's turn it on. And I'm going to start to turn it down. And what I can do here, as I turn this down, I start to emulate the look of a sheet of tracing paper on top of a photograph in this case, just like you'd see in real-world usage.
And once that's in place, I can begin to trace on these individual layers. And I'm going to go through and show you how I've previously gone through this process and traced these, so that you can see I started off with kind of the outline of the object with rather heavy lines, because I want to emphasize that shape. Then, as I went in, I started to add some shading to mimic the shadowing that was going on within the image. And then it's just a matter of starting to add more and more detail, and the nice thing is, once I get this all done, I can start to embellish it with my own work, which I've already actually done here.
But, we'll do a little bit more. I'm going to create a new layer here. And at this point, I really don't even need to see the underlying image, because at its best, you want to take this beyond simply tracing the exact lines that are in the underlying image. So, I'm going to go back to my tracing paper emulator here and turn it up. So now I'm just looking at the tracing. And for me, it's just a drawing that I'm working on, I'm no longer a slave to that photograph. And as such, I can go back to the new layer I created here, and grab my pencil, and let's switch to black, and I'll just go ahead and just do a little extra work on here.
But, at this point, you can see I have no relation really to the underlying image, it's not a resource at this point. I'm treating this more as if it was originally just a sketch onto itself. So, the thing here is that I have these multiple layers I can work with. And essentially, it's a safety net. The more larger safety net you have, the more you're going to try things out. I can do something like I just did knowing that if I don't like it, I can just eliminate that layer. So, to finish up, tracing can be considered cheating if the finished artwork is intended to portray true freehand drawing.
It becomes just another technique in the artist's toolbox when it is used as an underlying aid for a more fully expressed artwork.
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