Where is the line between copying and creating?

Questions by Johann Krammer


Dear Drawing Academy Team,

A few months ago, I became a member of the Drawing Academy and always enjoy returning to this course.

Your last video “Drawing from Photos vs. Drawing from Life” has confused me a little. I think many artists draw from photos. Unfortunately, we are not all Nikolai Blokhins, and we use your course to improve our drawing skills. The point that gives me a headache now is this:

Where is the line between a realistic representation and the exact copying of photographs?

To achieve a realistic look to my drawings, I have to follow a certain level of detail.

Does copying with technical aids (projector or similar) make me a copier or a signatory?

Maybe you can look at my pictures and give a short craftsmanship judgment, so I can see if I am on the right path, or if I need to correct, in one direction or the other, something that should be enhanced or omitted.

johann-krammer-drawing I look forward to your reply!

With kind regards,
Johann Krammer

Feedback by Vladimir London, Drawing Academy Tutor

Dear Johann,

Thank you very much for your questions.

You’ve raised a very valid point. There are many various views on this subject, and you can see some comments on the “Drawing from Photos vs Drawing from Life” page.

I am glad that my video makes people think and discuss what makes real art. Since the 1950s, traditional fine art is being slowly but steadily replaced by contemporary art. The decline of art education is very apparent in the West. Every year, tens of thousands art students graduate high school without adequate drawing skills. Some of them come to us to learn drawing after graduation; among them, there are also art teachers who enroll in the Drawing Academy course.

I want to change the world (or at least to do my best to improve a tiny bit of it), and that is why I created the Drawing Academy. You may see my life vision, purpose, and mission on this page:

Johann, thank you very much for presenting your website.

I like what you do and really enjoy your drawings. You have great skills in depicting tonal values, and your pencil hatching manner is very good. In particular, I like how you put pencil strokes along object contours; this helps to portray three-dimensional nature of models you draw.

There are some points that can be improved; most of them are in constructive drawing.


For example, the “Young Greek, 21cm x 29.4cm” drawing has certain asymmetry; imagine that this head is straight up, and try to visually put a line through the mouth. You will see that this line is tilted, not horizontal. The same can be applied to the eyes.

Some sketches will benefit from more realistically constructed noses. Think of a nose’s volume and three-dimensional shape, how many planes this object has, how these planes cross each other, how this facial feature is positioned on the head, what bones and tissues make a nose, and so on.


In “Man with Feathered Hat and Chain“, for example, the right wing of the nose is higher than the left one, and the part between the eyebrows can be improved.

On the other hand, you may introduce an aerial perspective. Shading parts of the portrait with greater attention to main parts of the portrait, and less attention to secondary parts, and especially to those areas that are further away.

johann-krammer-drawing For example, the “Man, Detail Pencil on Paper, 20cm x 30cm” drawing seems to give equal attention to all areas of the portrait.

There are many other small bits that can be improved; however, overall, your level is very high, and I really like how skilfully you do portraits.

A proficient fine artist draws what he or she knows, not what one sees (even when drawing from a model).

In regard to your question, “Where is the line between copying and creating?“- I think every fine artist should answer this question to himself. No external rules will do justice.

I am very glad that you do realistic art. Keep going; keep traditions alive!

Kind regards,

Categorized: Critique My Artworks

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Vladimir London says:

    Thank you, Johann

    I like your drawings and think that Drawing Academy Art Community will like them too.

    Best regards,

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