The Tracing Effect

The Tracing Effect
September 3, 2014 Daniel Palacios

It shouldn’t be a surprise that any well-produced piece of art requires effort. Ask any good designer if his or her best work was conceptualized and completed all in one shot. The answer will more than likely be ‘no.’ In most cases, your best work begins with a rough draft—not the other way around. Its main purpose is to help get your initial idea down and from there, blossom into the beauty that you envisioned. Whether the end result is the same vision as you had in the beginning is a whole other topic. Either way, you don’t arrive there unless you get all the “bad” ideas out. Rather than just drawing and erasing on your initial sketch, you can use tracing paper to further develop your ideas without completely ruining or altering it.

Of course, the natural thing to do would be to just draw right on top of your draft. Why not since it’s easier than pulling out tracing paper, right? Well, there’s more to it than it just being convenient. Essentially, it’s good practice to trace over your sketch because you want to have the option to go back to it for reference. Your first version of anything won’t always be perfect right off the bat, but it may have some of the qualities and/or characteristics worth revisiting down the line. For example, the natural texture or expressive character found in brush lettering might not always get transferred with every revision. As you make subtle changes and adjustments, you inevitably lose some of those original traits. Your idea can become “diluted” as it progressively evolves. By keeping a point of reference from the beginning, you can actually find where things went in the “wrong” direction and revert back if you hit a wall. Also, your future self can use the accumulated sketches to present to your client if the creative process is important to him or her.

So next time you’re working on a project, whether it’s a personal one or for a client, do yourself a favor and pull out the tracing paper.

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