I started following a blog on Tumblr called "Artist confessions." Though honestly, it seems to be more random people bitching about art than about artists themselves admitting to something that they do themselves.
Among them are people complaining anonymously, while being vague, about unnamed artists tracing pictures or photographs and passing them off as original.
I can understand being annoyed at this this to a degree. Taking a piece of work and tracing it to produce an exact duplicate and then passing off the duplicate as their own is shady in many ways. It's understandable when people get upset over this.
However, many great artists started out this way. Hell, back in the day when artists learned through apprenticeships, their master's would have them make copies of already completed works. But, these students knew to not pass it off as if it was their original idea. Even today, people go into the Louvre in Paris and practice painting by making copies. But, this is not the same as tracing. They aren't taking the Mona Lisa off the wall and placing it on a projector pointed at their canvas so that they can reproduce it exactly. What they're doing is referencing.
Referencing seems to be a practice that is strangely frowned upon within the furry fandom, and to a lesser extent other art fandoms as well. How can you learn to get proportions, perspective on limbs/body parts, and even lighting right if you don't reference even occasionally? I see so many pieces of art, while beautifully executed, suffer from major flaws in anatomy. Disjointed limbs, legs growing out of the hips in a weird way, arms pulled back in a way that neither shoulder blades not elbows would even allow. These could be avoided if people just looked at a similar picture to what they're going for.
Even some awkward poses could be avoided just by the artist getting out of the chair and trying to put their own body into the pose they're working on. If it feels like it comes naturally and is easy to hold, it should work just fine for your character. But, if you find yourself stretching in uncomfortable ways (unless that's what you're going for with the feel of the piece) you might want to rethink your pose.
All that being said, I use reference for most of my work. I don't know a single artist that makes a living with their art that doesn't use reference.
The closest I come to "tracing" is when I'm first starting a piece. I may open up a photo of a pose I like, and just do a basic stick figure trace. And when I say that, I mean it. A quick series of lines on a new layer to help me get the proportions and the pose right. After that, I generally delete the original photo out of the piece to begin fleshing out the stick figure. If I need to later, I'd open up the photo in a different window to help fix anything that looks too wonky. Before writing this, I've even taken a couple of pieces and overlaid the original photograph to check. While very similar in proportions to the original, I could hardly call it a trace. Edges don't match up. Head doesn't match up. Limb's only sort of match up. At first glance, looking at the original photo and my finished piece, the poses look the same. But, you'd actually have to overlay them to find the glaring differences, aside from what I changed to fit my style and to make them anthro. Back in college, When I had easy access to live models in my drawing classes, I was able to knock out spot on, fully rendered, grayscale pieces. 2 or 3 of them for a 20 minute pose. It was a talent that amazed my professors.
So, if after reading this and you think I'm an "evil tracer," I invite you to come sit in on one of my live streams, and you will see just how much work and effort I put into my pieces. And, if anyone has a problem with how I go about producing my work, please tell me so these concerns can be addressed and hopefully rectified. I really welcome constructive criticism. But this anonymous "vaguebook" style complaining is obnoxious.
5 years, 8 months ago
21 Jan 2013 20:45 CET