How to Draw Better Using Reference (Photographs, Mirror, Nature)
Using (like , the or ) to produce artwork of professional quality is sometimes essential when we need our drawings to be accurate, look convincing and “jump out of the page.”
In short, using reference is a very good aid for any serious artist to produce .
Using reference is not cheating. It is neither tracing nor duplicating.
Using reference is observing a source that accurately depicts something or someone, and such source is used as a BASE to produce an ORIGINAL artwork that looks both convincing and very professional.
Many great artists, including comics legend , use reference to produce their master pieces.
If they do, then anyone who is serious about this and wants to draw better, will see amazing results by trying this.
Sad Jesus drawing produced using photo reference of actor Nicholas Cage
Sometimes using reference is a “no brainier.”
If the task of the artist is to draw a rare flower from Belize, a specific Russian weapon from World War II or a particular castle in Spain, using reference is a must for most artists to produce an accurate drawing (except perhaps for experts in those matters.)
Then, most times, it may seem not necessary to use reference.
For example, the artist needs to draw the face of a beautiful woman or a super hero in an extreme action pose. He or she goes ahead and draws that without using any reference.
Now, the result could be very good. Most seasoned pro artists do this.
In that case the artist is drawing “from memory.”
The difference is that the source is in the artist’s memory and not in a photograph, mirror or nature.
Seasoned professional artists use their memories to produce great drawings because they have already memorized the sources thanks to a lot of observation of nature and other types of references.
Then again, seasoned pro artists also use reference when they need to.
Until any artist can depend entirely on his or her memory to draw “perfectly”, a very good habit is to use reference.
The end result will be artwork of a .
In other words, .
Using reference will allow the artist to:
depict human proportions (body and face) more accurately (from a live model or photos)
draw more beautiful faces (from photos, there are countless beautiful people in the world to choose from)
cast shadows and shades in a more dramatic and convincing way
show body poses that look more natural
draw facial expressions that seem funnier or more dramatic (use a mirror, Disney animators do)
create monsters that look more horrific (from a mix of photographs of animals and objects)
design better buildings or vehicles (from photos of your vacation or the web)
among other benefits.
The is the Internet.
Google and other top search engines can be used to search for images.
Search for topics you need and download the images that you like most.
TIP: Search using foreign language words to get photos most don’t.
Create an in your computer and keep it . Organization is essential to find your images quickly and the inventory must be practical or it won’t be used.
Finally, use a for drawing facial expressions. I learned this from the Disney animators. Then, the gestures in your characters could be priceless.
Comic book artist and illustrator, co-creator of the Omega Chase comic book. His portfolio at juliomolinamuscara.com has pencil portraits, comic book pages, pinups and posters of super heroes or beautiful girls, and more.