Use references in art

Published by Armored Pencil on

Splash art from Jeremy Anninos for LoL

Why use references in art, you ask?

Let’s clear up one thing: why should you use references in art? A reference provides much more information than our meager peanut brains can comprehend. Form, shape, lighting, and color are just a few of the many factors that need to be taken into account. Utilizing references shortens painting time because if you don’t, you’ll have to keep painting until it’s perfect, and even then, it probably won’t be. You don’t have to exactly replicate the image; instead, you borrow something from each source you use. Pose and lighting taken from one, attire taken from another, and background taken from numerous landscape photographs. Use of references in art is encouraged, hell it’s highly recommended. Do you feel this is cheating? Then, by all means, cheat your ass off.

Artwork with references used, from artist nemo
Images used to create the artwork, from artist Nemo

Which one are you?

Two groups can be found. The knowledgeable and the uneducated. Professional artists frequently, if not always, use references. Only a select few artists, in my opinion, may possess eidetic memory, which would enable them to instantly access a library of visuals in their head and eliminate the need for references in art. Or they have drawn a subject so damn often that they have nightmares about it.

Therefore, when people criticize you for drawing from references, they most likely don’t paint or draw themselves. They are unaware of how challenging it is and how much time you devote to learning, practicing, and improving your abilities. They only focus on the final product and highlight potential errors.

Given this website, it’s probably preaching to the choir, but ignore any arguments to the contrary. Use references.

Creativity is yet another reason to use references in art.

You can use references to aid in the artistic setup of your painting. What sort of feeling or mood you’re trying to evoke in your audience. What specifics would you like to give your character? Utilizing various references will inspire extra creativity, which you can then build upon. Making very convincing art, in my opinion, is really challenging if you don’t get your inspiration from the real world. Picasso once said, “Art is theft.” Why did he say that, exactly? Since artists often take ideas or elements from other works of art as inspiration. In essence, most art has been created before, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done again—and better.

Looking to get started with references? Then right here, you can also read our article on free references sites (copyright free).

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