For my family and friends, it comes as no surprise that one of my sources of creative inspiration is Walt Disney. More specifically, the animation and otherwise artistry of the Studio and Parks is, in my opinion, some of the best work ever done, anywhere in the world. Glowing review right? I don’t work for Disney. 🙁 I’m just not that caliber. At least I’m not yet.
Inspiration is a funny thing though. Where does copying end and new creation begin? If you trace over a drawing or picture at the start does that mean the end result, no matter how different, is nonetheless still a copy? I personally think the answer is no. I’m not talking about just changing a color or replicating the exact original in a different style (although that can be it’s own work of art, much more of a grey area legally and ethically). For my vector art, I often start with a photo and work it up into something new that sets it apart from a photo. Sometimes I combine photos to get a certain unfindable angle or unique pose. I hardly ever use all the details, and many times I end up running my lines through filters to get a certain type of line. Check out the example below.
Believe it not, this Phoenix started life as a photo of a vulture. A lot of the work went into making the usually smooth feathers look more like flames. Picking and choosing where the gradients fall is a big part of this illustration too. There are both red and yellow lines to contrast the gradients and, of course, the head is entirely red to stand out from the brightly-hot chest area that I imagined would be the hottest.
So is tracing really a cheat and a way of copying? When does a tracing of a vulture stop being a tracing of a vulture?
What about the question of collaboration on something like an animated movie? In the following YouTube clip, Walt Disney explains how sometimes and artist has to forgo their preferred style to mesh with other artists in the studio, but on their own they take the same tree and paint 4 very different pieces of art from it. This is why Walt Disney is my biggest inspiration.