Tracing. The dirty word everyone discourages you from doing. Why? Because it's an easy shortcut that doesn't teach you to observe carefully and draw what you see.
Fine, fair enough.
But, used properly, tracing can be a great teaching and production aid. Let's name a few famous artists who are known to have traced...Caravaggio, Vermeer, and Ingres. And a few famous illustrators...Norman Rockwell, Drew Struzan, and Bernie Fuchs.
Tracing is especially useful when trying to flatten and understand some deeply foreshortened form, such as a hand that's pointing right at you:
Maybe you don't have a fancy lightbox. And taping photos to the window to trace is too much of a pain.
Well, here's an easy, cheap solution- The Clear Plastic Clipboard.
Just print out or photocopy whatever you want to trace, clip it to the board, overlay a blank sheet, then hold it up to the light. Voila!
These are actually quite hard to find. If you live in Limerick, you can order one for about €7 from Thomond Office Centre Ltd. on the Dock Road: Be sure to use Product Code 913721-