Anonymous said: I know this may sound stupid but...have you ever feel the need to defend yourself for using reference pictures? I know many artists use them and a lot of them, like you, kleinmeli, euclase and so on and they are pretty open about it. I just always feel like I should be ashamed of it or should feel bad for not drawing from my mind. Am I being overly sensitive? How do you handle criticism of that kind? Sorry for such a stupid question.
As I always say: there’s no stupid questions, so don’t feel guilty about your ask!
have you ever feel the need to defend yourself for using reference pictures?
The first time someone called me out for using reference pictures, I wondered if I understood their comment correctly and if my glasses were actually on my nose. This person couldn’t be serious. I mean, I’m into realistic art, I draw portraits where you can see the pores of the skin, the freckles, every eyelash, I draw the fucking Impala from Supernatural in its tiniest details and you think I can do this without reference pictures? If I were a comic artist, I would maybe understand their reasoning but for a realistic artist like me, it’s stupid.
Of course, when it comes to comics, the situation is a bit different, the drawings are more stylized so comic artists will use less photos but it doesn’t mean they don’t use references. In addition, now, they even use 3d softwares like Poser to create dynamic poses and reference models. They even build sets, towns, whatever in Google Sketch Up.
Referencing is useful and it’s essential when you draw realistically. This trend of “real artists don’t use reference” needs to die like yesterday. There is no shame about using photo references or, if you can, live models.
And if my humble opinion isn’t enough for you because I am a Tumblr nobody, here is a quote from Alex Ross' book, Mythology.
Ross’ biggest breakthrough as an illustrator came in June 1987 at the American Academy of Art, when he was introduced to the use of live models. “Before that, I had no idea how much I could grow as a draftsman. It was a huge turning point, because all through grade school I hadn’t so much as drawn from photographs_I’d always thought that you had to make it all up out of your head, and that’s how you did ‘fantasy’ illustration. Now I wonder if I would have developed even sooner had I drawn from life as child”
Photo session for a Superman drawing:
Alex Ross using the photos for his work:
HOWEVER, using photos must not prevent you from studying anatomy, body proportions, volumes, because it’s important to know how a body or a face work (you start with stick figures, then rectangles and cylinders until being able to draw a body exactly the way you want). Because I did it (and I carry on practicing those things), I don’t use reference pictures when I judge the pose is easy but when I need to be precise, fuck the pseudo art experts who tell me I’m not a “real artist” because I need a photo: I do use reference pictures. I can’t draw a portrait of Jensen Ackles without at least 2 or 3 photos by my side.
I just always feel like I should be ashamed of it
How do you handle criticism of that kind?
Like I handle all the stupid criticisms of that kind:
TLDR: If you are into realistic art, references are essential, it’s very very hard to draw from memory a realistic portrait. If you are into something more stylized like comics, you have tricks to use less references but it doesn’t mean you are a bad artist if you do.
Voilà, now my little anon, let the guilt go away and draw in peace. And of course, have a great weekend ♥
have to agree with petite-madame
you have to use reference to improve your art. it’s essential. to be able drawing a portrait you have to recognize the unique features of a person’s face/body. every artist, it doesn’t matter if realistic or not, uses reference. in artist schools you do life/nude drawing, etc. the more reference you use, the better the art. Drawing a cartoon/ caricature of a person makes you understand what I mean. Even if it’s simplified, you still recognize them as that person.
To say that ‘real artists’ don’t use references is the dumbest shit i’ve ever heard.
People who call themselves better artists because they don’t use references don’t have a clue of drawing techniques.