To What Extent is Tracing Acceptable?

I am a just beginning in the graphic design industry. Often I find myself tempted to use a pre-existing image as a template for an illustration I’m working on. This begs the question, to what extent is tracing acceptable? If the final image is transformative can it still be considered “original”? What are your thoughts on this? I would love to hear other perspectives.

I’m not quite sure of the question behind your question. Are you asking if there’s a copyright problem or if tracing is artistically ethical?

Artistically ethical

In art school, the instructors discourage tracing because they want students to develop various aspects of their drawing abilities and creativity and not rely on workarounds to get there, such as tracing.

In the real world of commercial illustration, the end product is what matters. How one got there is largely irrelevant.

If all you can do is trace and color, well, that’s sort of a problem since it places rather harsh limits on your abilities. On the other hand, if roughing in the outlines from various sources helps ensure you’ll get the job done on time and under budget with everything looking right, I don’t see too many ethical problems.

I’ve worked with dozens of illustrators; they all use source materials to one extent or another.

In commercial work, copyright infringements are the bigger concern, so I wouldn’t ignore that issue.

That makes sense! I appreciate your input