Recently Fen has been into watching Avatar, the Last Airbender on Netflix. At some point she was so intrigued with the characters that she would pause the show, press a piece of paper up to the TV and trace their faces with pencil. Then she Sharpied over the pencil lines.
She made around 7-8 of these tracings and taped them to her wall. She wrote out each character’s name and colored in a few sets of lips and a pair of eyes.
At some point in my childhood I must have been taught that tracing equals cheating and therefore has no place in the world of art-making. I was rather impressionable and have been terrified of being labeled a “tracer” ever since. Oh! The stigma.
In any event, I think tracing can teach a child a great deal. Whenever your hand is moving a utensil across a piece of paper is, in its own right great practice. But then there’s the matter of learning composition, proportion, shape- and all by tracing a professional artists’ work. The brain will remember these movements and store them away for later.
Tracing gives them confidence because something they’ve done looks really good. It helps them to practice drawing- not all drawing has to be from observation. It helps them with getting a feel for the proportions of whatever they’re drawing. It’s open-ended, so they can add in color later or not.
You know what else? Tracing is just a whole lotta fun.