Let's take the Leela / Bender pic I recently did. It was based on the original drawing by artist Freako. Here are the images side by side.
On the left you have Freako's image and on the right you have my image. Now it's pretty obvious that the face is almost exactly the same, and the way Leela is positioned is too. Interestingly, the only part traced in this image is indeed the face, the rest was done by myself. I trace sometimes and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
So there are a few questions stemming from this :
Does that mean I suck at drawing?
I would say no to that, although I'm not the best either. But there's alot of my stuff that's 100% original on here. Sometimes tracing can be used to get your proportions right and then you just make the necessecary changes to make the art look different.
Does that make me a fraud?
Well if I traced the image 100% and changed articles of clothing or the background image, yes. But I'm not that kind of person. I sometimes use one or two parts of an original image if I deem them fit to be part of the type of image I want to do.
Should I credit the original artist just for using one or two features?
That's debatable. Some would say yes, some would say no. To me, it really depends on the extent of tracing used.
Is it considered as stealing?
No. I've seen many professional comic book artists trace. Even my comic book class teacher did it back in the day. Does that make him a thief too? Absolutely not. He just took an image and made it into his own work. Just like I do. I never fully trace an original drawing. To me that's stealing and a lack of originality.
What do you guys think? Is tracing really all that bad? One thing I know is that I'll continue doing what I do, no matter what people say, tracing or no tracing. To me This isn't a job, it's a hobby! :-)