The Art of Tracing


Tracing is not cheating

I know that there are many illustrators out there who think that tracing is like cheating when trying to get your illustrations down. I am here to tell you that nothing can be further from the truth. As a matter of fact my uncle has not drawn a picture since his teenage years. He is trying to regain his artistic talents by going back to the basics, which for him is learning to draw by tracing.

He told me that tracing was the way he learned how to start drawing basic cartoon figures. When he was a kid, he would take a comic book and trace the superhero on the cover. He would continue to do this so that he would familiarize himself with the curves and lines. Once he felt comfortable he would try drawing the art freehand. Recently, my uncle purchased a tracing pad and recently began tracing. Hopefully, I will display some of his work here. To begin our lesson on illustrations we must start with the most basic of illustration concepts and that is to start by learning how to trace.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use tracing to master many drawings and your control over the drawings when you venture out on your own with free hand drawings. By the time we’re done, you’ll know how to set down the guides that will help you control the most complicated types of drawing.


 The tools you will need are a tracing pad and a simple number one, and a number two pencil; and a sharpie fine point pen. The sharpie fine point pen is for when you complete your project. Once the project is completed, you will next ink in your drawing.

Tracing will help you to notice details as you record them on the paper. You will develop a style of moving your hands while drawing your picture once you get comfortable with your tracing style. You will memorize many of the lines and curves of the drawing you are tracing. Tracing is also a great way to familiarize yourself with the human body once you practice with continual anatomy tracing.

Cute Puppy

Cute Puppy

To begin our lesson here, we will focus on tracing a basic picture of a cute puppy. You can copy and paste this picture to a word document, print it out and practice your tracing skills. With this little piece, you will learn all of the lines and curves needed to complete your puppy drawing. Now, depending on how fast you learn, you should trace this figure for about five times before trying it free hand. For those who are much faster, once or twice should suffice. If you have no artistic talent then tracing this picture for about ten times would not be unusual. Everyone has their own level to work on as long as you practice the time will come when you will be able to draw this little guy free hand. Practice and perseverance is key here as with almost anything in life.  

If you sign up for my emails, I will be sending you some really nice free lessons on learning how to draw and draw freehand. Currently at this time I have two lessons for you along with this lesson presented here. I plan to add many more in booklet for to my subscribers to my email list so go over to the little subscription box put your name and e-mail address and you will get your lesson in your in box. I never give out e-mail addresses to anyone at all. And remember, once you sign up to check you spam filter box to see you got my email.

So, to recap, you will need a nice tracing pad. Aunt Martha’s 8.5-Inch by 12-Inch Tracing Paper, 50-Sheet is a nice pad to use for your project. You will need a fine tip sharpie pen Sharpie Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers, 12 Red Markers(37002) is the one I use for some of my inking projects. And Dixon Ticonderoga Pencil, w/ Eraser, No 1, Extra Soft, YW pencil for your light lay over and a number two pencil for the darker part.

Please let me know how this works for you. Everthing begins with a simple first step.

I will have more.

Take Care.





  1. Hey Lewis,

    Yes, I am planning to begin tracing to try and regain some of my lost art skills just to see if I can get them back.

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