Wednesday, February 11, 2009

If you can trace, you can create drawings

Whether you are preparing in advance to bring your ready to go drawing to one of my painting classes, or just want to do something fun on your own.... you can use the following method to create your own original image off one or more of your photos.

 That said, I'm posting a review of the process that works for both pictorial and portrait works.

A general statement about copyright infringement: If someone familiar with the original artists work sees your work and recognizes it as from the original artist... you will want to have advance permission. I've heard different art professionals say.. oh.. just change "it" 5 times... or 10 things... or the like.... but the general statement addressing recognition is more credible. It's easy and fun to trace off your photo or maybe even a collage of photos, so go for it! The photo up top is a composite of an 8 x 10 photo of my grandaughter Kaley on the right, with a traced acetate drawing to the left ( covered by steps 1 thru 6 below using a pictorial example) and an enlarged B&W printed copy of the tracing....( as addressed in step 7 below) Click on above image for detail view. Review the entire process before beginning... you'll get better results.

Step 1 ( Photo above)
First,in addition to a clear IN FOCUS photograph( 8 x 10 is best), you'll need the following: painters or masking tape, 1 sheet (8 1/2 x 11) clear acetate ( or a clear plastic sheet protector ), an ultra fine point sharpie marker(black is best). The acetate could be a book report cover, or as I mostly use, a piece of overhead transparency film available at most all stationary stores. There are several kinds "write on, ink jet, and laser". Write on is least expensive and works well. 3M makes a good product though a store brand is fine. Honestly... a sheet protector works well too and you likely have one of those already.

Step 2 (Photo above)
The most important of all is a clear in Focus photograph. If you start with a snapshot like a 4 x 6, enlarge it (on paper is fine) to an 8" x 10" as this will offer a much easier tracing job. What you see here is a snapshot my hubby took of a shoe shine boy found in a plaza in Chiapas, Mexico near the Guatamalan border. Ray is presently doing this image on canvas but is using this process to get the original acetate image which he then projects and pencils right on the canvas.
( One could use the same process to create an original drawing on paper that would be placed underneath your fabric as a painting guide... but honestly.... it's time consuming, less accurate, and tricky to get right particularly when enlarging only a wee bit. .... so continue reading.)

Step 3 (Photo above)
Next, at a time when you are not in a big hurry, tape the 8 x 10 photo to a smooth desk level writing surface like the kitchen table. One piece of tape at each of the four corners is fine.

Step 4 (Photo above)
Place the piece of clear acetate over the photograph and likewise tape the acetate to the tabletop using 4 small pieces of tape.

Step 5 (Photo above)
In preparation for your tracing, be thinking about the smooth continuos lines you see in a coloring book. That kind of coloring book simplicity line is your goal. No sketchy sketchy stuff. :-) Now, using an ultra fine point sharpie, settle down without caffeine in your system ( maybe 1 small glass of wine would be helpful..??) and begin to trace all the important images, slowly and carefully.

Step 6 (Photo above)
Your tracing will look something like this!

Step 7 (Photo above)
When you have finished tracing the desired image, you can place a piece of white paper behind the clear acetate and you will now have a contour drawing which you can lay on your copier and make 1 black and white paper copy to take to a printer  like Staples and ask for a toner printer enlargement. A good class project size is 205% enlarged which prints an 18" x 24" drawing derived off your original 8 1/2 x 11. Most print shops can enlarge an 8 1/2" x 11" up to 400% resulting in a drawing about 34" x 44'.If you'd like, ask to use their proportional scale wheel to calculate something more exact. They should be able to help you with that.

 (Jan 2017 UPDATE.. Students who recently purchased  B and W prints from a printer using  a dye cartridge ( happened to be made at Kinkos ) found their drawing bled when wet.  Ask for a toner based print to be safe).  

The resulting paper drawing will be an exact reproduction of your tracing and will be laid underneath your fabric when we are ready to paint. No marking on the fabric is necessary. The cost is pretty nominal (appx. $3 for a 205% enlargement). You'll be truly glad you spent this time in preparation.
NOTE about portraits.... If one started with an 8 x 10 photo with the face taking up the majority of the frame, you may try enlarging by a smaller percentage... eg 130% to 150% as portraits larger than life ( particularly on children) are less realistic.

Here's a few reference examples re: enlarging:
If you are starting with an 8 1/2 x 11 image enlarging by:
130% results in an image roughly 11 x 15 and fits on an 11 x 17" paper
(this might be good for portrait work as long as the original facial image wasn't real small.. anything above 130 will not fully fit on an 11 x 17 paper)
Some more hints:
140% = 12 x 16
150% = 13 x 17
160% = 14 x 18
170% = 15 x 19
180% = 16 x 20
190% = 16 x 21
200% = 17 x 22
225% = 19 x 25
250% = 21 x 28
275% = 24 x 31
300% = 26 x 33
325% = 28 x 36
350% = 30 x 39
375% = 32 x 42
400% = 34 x 44