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practice drawings
drawing paper
short cuts
emergencies
The Cheating Artist
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The Cheating Artist

A question some artists ask - “Is it okay to take short cuts and still remain true to your work?” Having been an artist since I could pick up a pencil, I believe there are “allowable” short cuts one can use from time to time.

For example, once while reading through one of Boris Vallejo's book of paintings, he mentioned that, if he were in a hurry to get the base outline of his drawing down, he would trace the bare outline of the photograph onto his paper/canvas. Mind you, this was only done in “emergencies”. But when I began to move deeper into the pencil/graphite area, and I was learning new techniques, I incorporated this little 'shortcut' for practice drawings. I wasn't great at drawing faces yet, and this helped me get everything into proportion while I was learning how to develop a portrait type result of my subject.

From a very young age, I had always been a freehand artist. Whatever I was drawing, I could simply look at it and draw it – without the use of grids and such. So after drawing a few pictures from traced outlines, I felt I had to prove to myself I could still draw a picture wholly freehand. And I did it, gaining the same well rounded results as when I was using the tracing.

Now, although I don't trace my outlines, I still draw (freehand) my initial foundation on tracing paper to be certain I have it the way I want it, then I transfer it to my drawing pad using graphite paper. This way, it makes for a cleaner drawing with less eraser marks on the drawing paper.

Let me add here, though, for skeptics who might consider a traced outline to be cheating, thus rendering the finished drawing “unauthentic” - the true talent of the artist is revealed in the body of the work. Anyone can trace a picture, but only a truly talented artist can take that flat, empty, hollow outline and create a work of art that possesses depth and feeling. So if you're an artist and you feel the need to use this technique to hone your skills – use it. And don't let anyone tell you that you're cheating or that your work isn't really your own. To quote world renowned horseman Clinton Anderson - “You do what you have to do to get the job done.” In time, you won't need to trace the outlines anymore – it will ALL come to you naturally.


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  about 7 years ago
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