Is Tracing Illustration?

When a person traces over a photo and colors in the areas in his or her own style, is it still illustration?

Nicole wrote~

I’ve got a little dilemma and I need some opinions please. This new style
that I’ve been experimenting with and have come to like a lot, involves
tracing over a photo on the computer and coloring in the areas. Does this
still count as illustration? Here is an example of the work.

this image was used for technique experiment only, it is not meant for generating revenue

The Feedback~

Spoke to the head of our graphics dept., and he said you need
to address permissions if the piece is recognizable. If you use photos to
generate new images, you need to thoroughly modify them to make them
your own. Since you’re transforming photos to illustrations, I suspect
you fall within the latter category, but I’d talk to a property rights person
to CYB (cover your butt). Most academic libraries have one on staff. I’d
ask ours but she’s not in this afternoon. Also, I think she’d need to see the
original as well as the modification to give you a decision. Loved your ladybug, by the way.

Absolutely it counts!! Some of the best illustrators in the world trace.
Bernie Fuch immediately comes to mind. It’s the rendering technique that
makes the difference between a non-artist’s halfass attempt to draw, and a
genuine, often practiced aid to depict a difficult subject.
NEVER attempt to apologize to ANYONE, artist or non artist, for tracing. Go
for it!
John Munger

Who took the photo? If you did, no problem.

I think it counts, yes. And I like it. Very bold.

Nicole–I’m unqualified to assist you with the dilemma except to say that,
when I paint, I try to use only my own photography to “trace” around when
needed, though I use other photographs as visual references, for ideas and
for composition planning. I would not feel comfortable using another’s
photograph precisely to trace and then fill in with color, but that is not to say there is something wrong with it–if the photographer has given permission, it’s certainly fine. You are adding your own art to the design, so I can see why it is a “little dilemma”-(-I tend to be a worrier, so again–listen to other artists who have more experience then I do.) Best of Luck with your talent.

It’s beautiful. And I (though why my opinion would carry any weight is
beyond me) would consider it illustration. Eric Carle’s collage is
considered illustration. I’m just wondering about copyright. If you aren’t
tracing your own photographs but some from other published works that might
be considered an infringement. At least from my ignorant view.

Dear Nicole, Your ladybug is definitely an illustration and an interesting
technique but I would be extremely careful when using photography that is
not your own. Many photographers sell their pieces for limited rights and
resell them to many different clients. If someone has legally bought the
rights to reproduce an image,they will go to lengths to make sure that it
doesn’t appear somewhere else at the same time.If you could use your own
photography or use various photos as reference rather than taking from just
one source, it would be safer.

About Nicole

I'm a quiet artist making a living as a web designer.
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