Is Drawing From Photos Bad? Is It Cheating? 

Is Drawing From Photos Bad? Is It Cheating? 

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Drawing is seen as an expression of an artist’s creativity. Some artists despise the idea of drawing from a photo, and that is their opinion. 

On the other hand, there are those that like the idea of drawing from a photo, and that is their opinion. Which opinion is best? 

Is drawing from a photo considered cheating or bad? 

Drawing from a photo takes a great amount of focus, patience, and skill. Since it does require skill, it is still considered artistry; but is it bad artistry? 

Many artists do consider drawing from a photo bad artistry because you are trapped by the photo. You can’t create your own lines, shading, or develop your own style. While it’s not considered cheating or bad, it does make it hard for you to develop your voice in artistry. 

Ultimately you have to decide if you enjoy following the more structured copying from photos or if you prefer to do it from memory. Neither are bad, they are just different ways to do things. 

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Do You Need To Ask Permission To Draw Someone? 

Many artists like to create portraits. There are different kinds of portraits, like full length, bust view, and caricatures. What about drawing people at random? 

If you see someone walking by and you want to capture their essence, can you just draw or do you need permission? 

It’s a good idea to always ask someone’s permission before drawing them but if they are in public you can do it legally (although they might not like it). Even celebrities don’t prefer being drawn or copied on paper without giving their permission but again it isn’t illegal. 

Although it isn’t illegal to just draw someone that is in public (and actually you can take anyone’s picture who is in public too) it is often better to ask especially if you will be staring at them for a long time. 

Is It Illegal To Draw A Copyrighted Photo? 

If you want to take up drawing from photos, it may take a bit to get started. For example, you need to find great quality pictures to copy. 

Not only do you need to find great photos, but you also need to make sure you don’t accidentally break the law. With instant access to thousands of beautiful photos, it can be easy to accidentally break the laws of copyright. 

Is it illegal to draw from a copyrighted photo? 

Drawing a perfect duplicate of a photo that is copyrighted and then selling it is illegal. If you intend to sell the drawing of the photo, you must get permission.  

However, if you are just drawing it for practice or trying to learn a technique you shouldn’t have any problems. You only really have issues when you start profiting off of a copyrighted work. 

Always be sure to check and know that the photo you are drawing does not have copyright on it if you intend to sell it. 

There are a few ways you can protect yourself and make sure you don’t do anything illegal. 

  • Ask Permission: If you find a photo that you want to copy, reach out to the owner and ask permission. The person who owns the copyright is the only one who can allow you direct access to copying their photo.
  • Give Credit: Always give credit where credit is due. If you find a beautiful picture to recreate, make sure you credit your co-artist. After all, it was their artistic eye that took the photo in the first place. 
  • Free Images: There are plenty of free options online as well. Make sure that the photo you are recreating hasn’t already been copyrighted. If there is no copyright on the photo, recreate away. 
  • Buy Images: There are plenty of sites that allow you to purchase photos for a small fee. If you are passionate about drawing a certain picture but it is copyrighted; pay for the photo. 

Be careful about producing goods for purchase from the photo as not all copyright laws are the same. Be sure to let the owner know your intentions for the photo if you plan to sell your creations for profit. 

Why Is Drawing From Life Hard? 

Have you ever wondered how a group of people can be looking at the same thing and yet each person draws something so different? It can either be because of perspective and how one sees the world or because life drawing and drawing accurately is difficult. 

Sometimes, it just doesn’t matter how focused you are, you can’t seem to create the scene that you are looking at. Some have a hard time drawing a straight line for a stick figure too. 

Wherever you are on the journey of drawing, it can be discouraging not being able to draw “accurately.” Why is drawing what you see in life so hard? 

Drawing from life is the best way to improve your drawings. However, it can be difficult to draw from life because there is so much to take in and you are in complete control of it. 

You are in charge of the narrative in your drawing. It could be a cloudy day, but if you are excited you can reimagine it as a sunny day. If the sky is blue and cloudy and you’re not feeling it, you can control the narrative and make those fluffy clouds dark and dreary. 

Another difficulty in learning to draw from reality is depth. We typically draw in two-dimensions, but the world is so much more than that. 

You get to choose the perspective and depth you are drawing with. 

Is It Too Late To Learn How To Draw? 

Drawing is an appealing hobby, you can sit on a park bench and draw the world around you. You can sit with a picture and draw faces from the past. 

If you once loved drawing, but never learned the proper practice, is it too late? Can you take your stick figures and turn them into pieces of artwork? 

It is never too late when it comes to learning how to draw. There are plenty of tutorials out there on the internet to help you learn to draw no matter your age or when you started. 

 In addition to tutorial videos, several books cover the basics of learning to draw. Whatever your preferred method of learning is, there is always a chance to start your drawing learning journey. 

Final Thoughts

While drawing from photos may not be bad, it is not the best approach to learning how to draw. Once you have learned the basic skills, you can then branch out from the rigid artistry of copying photos. 

It is best to find your creative voice in the drawings that you create. Various resources can help you find your creative voice and become the artist you’ve always dreamt of. 

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