Tracing AI-Generated Art Explained: Pros and Cons

Tracing art is one of the things that most artists avoid doing. There is an unwritten rule among the art community: You must never trace someone else’s artwork without their permission.

Some artists think it’s okay to trace artwork for learning as long as you don’t sell it or post it online.

What about AI-generated art? I’ve been delving deep into the terms and conditions of various AI services to explore whether it’s okay to trace AI-generated art or not. This article will explain everything you need to know about tracing an AI drawing.

Can You Trace AI-Generated Art?

You can trace AI-generated drawings and paintings if you generate them yourself. However, if someone else made the AI art, it’s wrong for you to trace their artwork. Remember that AI-generated art doesn’t have a copyright, so no one, including you, can own it. Art created by tracing AI art shares the same copyright status.

The only exception is AI art generated using Stable Diffusion. I will explain the difference between Midjourney, Dalle and Stable Diffusion terms of services regarding their AI-generated art.

MidJourney Term of Service 

MidJourney Terms of Service for generated assets

According to MidJourney’s terms of service, you own all assets you created using MidJourney. This means you can do anything you want on art generated by yourself using Midjourney, like saving, sharing, and selling them.

Since the art belongs to you, you can trace art generated by Midjourney. Remember, you can’t do the same on art generated by other users without their permission. 

Using the Midjourney service to upscale image owned by other also prohibit you from using it since the original creator owns the upscaled image.

OPEN AI DALL-E Terms of Use

OpenAI Terms of Use for Content

According to OpenAI Terms of Use, the right to the content created by OpenAI will be assigned to you. You can use it for any purpose, including selling the art. 

But, OpenAI Content Policy prohibits you from lying about the source of generated art. Since it’s generated by ai, you must tell them it’s created by AI, not you.

Tracing AI-generated artwork using DALL-E 2 means you must state that you are tracing Art generated by DALLE-2. You shouldn’t claim your drawing as original if it’s based on tracing artwork generated by DALLE-2.

Stable Diffusion Terms of Service

Most people use Stable Diffusion using 3rd party services. Stability AI is one of the most popular 3rd party services you can use.

According to Stability Terms of Use, the AI assets created by Stability AI are owned by Stability. So you don’t own art generated by Stability. You are granted the limited right to use it.

You don’t have the right to use the art for commercial purposes. You also don’t have the right to modify or make any derivative uses. This means you can’t trace artwork from Stability AI.

After searching for another free and paid 3rd party service for Stable Diffusion, most of them have similar licenses.

Stable Diffusion Github License

If you run Stable Diffusion locally, the license is vastly different. According to Stable Diffusion License on Github, you have the right to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the art created by Stable Diffusion. 

So yes, you can trace art generated using Stable Diffusion on your computer.

Remember that to run Stable Diffusion locally on your computer efficiently, you need expensive gaming graphics cards, preferably from Nvidia. The GPU alone can cost you at least $600.

Pros of Tracing AI-Generated Art

Amazing for learning purposes

AI art usually has excellent colors and composition. You can learn many great things from AI art to increase your fundamental art knowledge and skill.

You can practice drawing lines, shapes, and forms by tracing AI-generated art. This helps develop your muscle memory and fine motor skills, which can improve your overall drawing abilities.

Inspire Creativity Before Drawing an Art

Tracing AI-generated art is a quick way to inspire you on another form of art. After seeing countless AI art, I was amazed by their creativity. If someone tells me human, instead of AI, creates those images, I will believe it because it’s as good as a professional artist, some even better.

Sure, not all arts created by AI are great. Most AI-generated art has bad anatomy and is not good at drawing hands and feet. But some of them help me develop new ideas for my artwork and explore different kinds of art styles.

Good As a Reference Image

If you want to draw something that people rarely draw, it will be hard to get a good reference image to make your art looks good. 

You can just tell MidJourney or DALL-E what kind of art you want to draw, and it will give you countless images you can use as reference images.

No Guilt When Tracing AI-Generated Art

Tracing a drawing always feels wrong, even if I do it for learning purposes. I don’t feel good since I only copy someone else’s art.

But I won’t have the same dilemma since AI, not a human, creates it. You also won’t face any trouble infringing on an artist’s rights, allowing you to focus on learning and improving your skills without any added stress.

Cons of Tracing AI-Generated Art

AI-Generated Art Has Too Many Mistakes

Many AI pictures have big mistakes in anatomy and perspective. Small details can also be confusing. Tracing AI-generated art might teach you to copy the AI’s errors. Instead of learning from AI art, try tracing work by human artists (just for practice) or use license-free photographs.

Making Art Without Copyright

When you trace AI-generated art, you make another art piece without copyright. Copying it by hand doesn’t give you a copyright. It’s still a copy.

Copyright rules can differ in each country and sometimes need clarification. To avoid problems, keep your practice work private and be careful when choosing images to trace, ensuring they are not copyrighted.

Accidental Plagiarism

You might accidentally copy a real artist’s work when you trace AI-generated art. AI makes art by taking many pictures, cutting them up, and putting the pieces back together. 

Because the source of those pictures came from a real artist, the new art can sometimes look too much like an original picture. You might end up copying it without realizing it if you trace them.


In conclusion, tracing AI-generated art can benefit learning and inspiration. It helps you improve your fundamental art skills and encourages creativity without the guilt of copying another artist’s work. 

However, you should know the rules about using AI-generated art. With Midjourney and OpenAI DALL-E, you own the artwork, but with Stable Diffusion, you don’t. Be careful when tracing AI art since it might have mistakes.

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Kenny HD
Hi, I’m Kenny. I’m a digital artist who began learning art at the age of 21. I enjoy drawing cartoons and fan art.

1 thought on “Tracing AI-Generated Art Explained: Pros and Cons”

  1. This post has been a great resource for me. It’s well-written and covers the topic comprehensively. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise!


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