Safe Tracing Practices |

Safe Tracing Practices

Posted on March 30, 2015 by Ann Kullberg | 3 Comments

For my Super Workshops (5-days, limited to 5 students) I require students send me their reference photos and line drawings about a month before the workshop begins. I become Mean & Picky Ann at this point, and won't let them transfer their tracing onto their drawing paper until I'm completely happy with their tracing. When it comes to portraits, you can not be careful enough with your line drawing (tracing) and if you rush this step and trace inaccurately, all is pretty much lost from the start. 

Here's an example of a tracing that needed some work. It was a quite a good tracing, but that nose and mouth (and eyebrows) were really bothering me so I showed her how to do it (above left) and you can see what an improvement it is below.


In order to avoid Mean & Picky Ann, I should send the following article to every student before a Super Workshop! This is a reprint from the July 2007 issue of my magazine, available on CD Combo 8 The animation won't work here, and the images won't enlarge (they do on the CD Combo) but I feel it's still helpful enough to include here. 

If it's too small to read on this page, download the article by clicking here.

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3 Responses


May 25, 2015

EXACTLY! I was thinking just that this image sooloo reminds me of the original illustrations in Pooh.I don’t ever remember going through a I-hate-girls phase. I beat up on my little sister all the way until I left for college. Consistent, I was.She was still welcome in my tree house, though.


March 30, 2015

Yes, Agreed, Julie. The bedrock. I really think it’s the angst that makes people rush and then sadly, they’re doomed to trying to fix in colored pencil what would have been soooooo much easier to fix in graphite!

Julie Podstolski
Julie Podstolski

March 30, 2015

Fantastic advice. I think of the tracing as the bedrock of the drawing. OK, it isn’t the fun part. But put good music on or something to listen to on the radio so that you won’t tend to think, “Gee, I’m bored. I’ll do this as fast as I can so that I can get away to something more interesting”. Rush the tracing and the drawing is already, right at the start, on shaky ground.
There is so much angst on the subject of tracing; guilt or self-righteousness, that it is a hot potato. Excellent that you PUT IT OUT THERE.

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