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Learn To Draw By Tracing

I admit I did learn to draw by tracing. At least, it was one of the tools I used to help me get a grasp of what I needed to do to get good images.

I also admit it helped me tremendously. I didn't do it without thought, I concentrated on each and every line I was copying. With this in mind, I highly recommend tracing as a trick to use while you are learning.

Bear Outline

Every image on this page has evolved from the tracing process.

To begin with, I tried to sketch the subject freehand and to the best of my ability. If I didn't like the outcome, I went ahead and traced it to find out where I was going wrong. I probably traced for a month or two after I started to teach myself to draw.

Notice in the bear outline, I included the tail, ears, eye and nose. I do this to help me identify where things belong. These little details don't have to be exact, I just want the right location so I can complete the drawing myself.

As a way of explaining my procedure clearly to you, I decided to draw by tracing these outlines and make notes of how and why it helped me.

I need to show you what I copy when I trace even though I was very reluctant to go back to it for this experiment. That is a good sign, it means I'm way past that point of dependence.

These days, I just look then draw. Mostly, I am completely happy with my first draft.

I feel very proud when my family and friends give me praise. I also take this opportunity to thank all the beautiful people who have written to say they like my artwork because you have encouraged me, too!

One big benefit of tracing is that it helps you to 'see' or understand more about the topic you are depicting.

Shark Outline

Once you train your brain to illustrate what you see and not what you think you know, you will be able to illustrate anything. There is no set way of learning because we are all so different. You have to do what works for you.

Just remember not to get dependent on tracing if you try this tactic because your efforts won't be fulfilling - you will secretly know you didn't create them all by yourself.

Anyone can trace so use it only as a learning tool to improve your freehand drawing.

Tying shoelaces or reading and writing are all learned by repetition. You won't learn or master drawing unless you dedicate the time to practice and experimenting. You'll be amazed at how quickly you make progress.

Fish Outline
Butterfly image
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It's very confusing who to listen to when you begin but it is important that you decide what is right for you. Read everything you can and then pick out what you can use.

If you want to learn to draw by tracing, don't be ashamed to use it, it's just one little road you take to arrive at your final destination.

How To Trace A Picture

Outline Of A Pig
  1. Use tracing paper to copy the outline of your subject.
  2. Put your traced outline up against a clear glass window. (Of course, it has to be in the daytime!)
  3. Place your blank piece of paper over the top of the traced outline.
  4. With the light shining through, it makes it very easy to copy the lines of your subject.

Remember to pay attention to the lines you are actually copying! A numb mind won't help you at all.

A 2B pencil would be the best grade to use as it has a good soft lead.

It is not harmful to draw by tracing, in fact your drawing skills can only improve. If you keep in mind that tracing and drawing are two different things, then you will make good progress.

Click a link below to view a good variety of pencil tips:

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