Drawing References 101: A Guide for Art Newbies
As an upcoming artist, you draw inspiration from your own life and your surroundings when creating unique artwork. But that’s not always possible, as sometimes, your environment won’t provide you with enough inspiration.
That’s why many artists rely on drawing references to breathe life into their works of art. However, knowing how to use them is essential if you want to end up with an engaging piece.
This guide will help you better understand drawing references and how you can make the most out of them. And to sweeten the deal, this article’ll also share a couple of websites where you can find high-quality references.
What Is a Drawing Reference?
Generally speaking, drawing references are anything artists can use to help inspire their artwork. These references range from real-life photos to 3D models and other artworks. More often than not, artists use these references to increase accuracy and realism, or even add some beauty to their own art. Some artists also rely on references to help improve their drawing skills.
And, as they become better and more familiar with a particular subject, they may require fewer references over time as it becomes ingrained in their memory.
Is It OK to Draw Using References?
It’s important to understand that references in and of themselves are harmless. They are nothing more than a source of inspiration. Every artist has used references at some point, either as a way to create more realistic artworks or to learn more about a specific subject such as human anatomy. As a matter of fact, even real-world subjects are considered references.
However, you need to avoid leaning too heavily on drawing references. Remember that the end goal is to create your own style. While it’s fine to use a photo in order to create an illustration that somewhat resembles it, you should learn the elements that make the original photo so appealing.
Then, try to gradually apply these elements to your unique art. Over time, you’ll start to develop your own style and won’t need to rely on references as frequently.
3 Drawing References Websites
Finding the perfect drawing reference may be challenging, especially if you’ve never used one before. Not only that, but there are so many places to look for references that you might feel overwhelmed. Thus to make your job easier, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best drawing references websites.
Line-of-Action helps artists who are struggling to find high-quality drawing references by providing them with limitless resources. These vary from clothed and nude models all the way to animals and environments. However, what makes Line-of-Action truly unique is its search features.
More specifically, you can customize your search by selecting what type of drawing you are working on, for example, figures, faces, expressions, hands, feet, environments, or animal drawings. Then, you can further select specific categories and watch as the Line-of-Action algorithm creates a collection of references that you can use, free of charge.
Artists all over the world use Pinterest to search for inspiration, and you should do the same. This website is filled with pictures, artwork, and other references that should help you get started on your own art. And thanks to its easy-to-use interface, you won’t have any trouble finding great references.
Similar to Line-of-Action, Quickposes features a large library of drawing references, ranging from human models and animals to landscapes and urban environments. You can easily navigate through all these references using its wide-ranging search feature, which you can completely customize.
And, if you want to sharpen your skills or challenge yourself, the website allows you to create a timed practice that you can adjust based on your experience.
How Do You Draw References Without Copying?
In order to use drawing references without copying, you must learn how to read them. That means breaking the image down into individual parts, such as style, color palette, proportions, and the story it’s trying to tell.
For example, let’s say that you have a photo of a person walking down the road as a reference. When creating your art, try to change as many elements of the picture as you can while keeping the one that attracted you to it in the first place. Why not distort the picture a bit, or throw in some abstract elements?
Or, change the colors by adding your personal touch in a way that doesn’t resemble the original. Overall, using references can be very helpful, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to simply recreating artwork posted by your fellow peers.