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Is it okay to trace an image for my painting?

You found an image that you want to paint. However, it is a perspective that is difficult to draw onto your canvas or you are uncertain how to draw it or frankly lack the skill to free hand draw it onto the canvas. You do not have to be able to draw to paint. I can loosely sketch but have not perfected my drawing skill. What do you do? There are two other methods of transferring an image, one is gridding. The other is tracing it. Gridding will be discussed in a future blog.


You found the image but it looks too complicated to draw and you want to paint it so you will have to trace it. However, you think if you trace it, you are cheating. No you are not cheating. Every artist transfers an image, whether they draw it, grid it or trace it. Your method of transferring the image to your canvas if your choice.


To trace it, you will need a tracing paper. Most artists use Saral Transfer Paper. This paper will not interfere or change the color or your paints. I primarily use the white transfer paper but it does come in other colors. If your background is light, you will need a different color.

Tracing is perfectly fine. Every artist tool box should contain a transfer paper for those instances when you trace.


I recently painted sunflowers in front of a fence. The sunflowers were positioned in such a way that I wanted to capture, so I traced it onto my background. I used the white Saral Transfer Paper.

Traced Image

I then painted the image. The final image was the result I wanted. Sometimes tracing gives a better result than gridding. In this case, the intricate pattern of the flowers were better achieved through tracing the image.



Tracing is not cheating and frankly if you are more comfortable tracing, trace your image to the canvas. Just use a good transfer paper like Saral.


Until my next blog, happy painting.


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