Reference Images

Hi all,

Just a quick post regarding reference images for use when drawing. I think this can be a bit of a grey area when drawing or sketching your work. What I mean about a grey area is that some may think that this is not being original or is copying someones other work. I just want to put my thoughts out there about how and when to utilize reference material. Whether it be a photograph, model, exterior elements like buildings, etc., that are used in creating your work the main thing is the question of “isn’t this copying?”.

All artists use some form of reference. Whether it be as simple as getting a perspective right or shading of a subject or specific details. When I worked in the scenic industry we had volumes of reference images to use. The use of reference images isn’t to copy, but to provide a guide or another tool for the artist to use for their work. Copying another persons work shouldn’t be done as it can be viewed as a form of plagiarism.

Another way to look at reference images from say other artists, would be as more of an influence. The amount of times I’ve seen artists use high contrast black and white work such as Frank Miller’s style, is quite often. This is more of an influence of the artist by someone who is inspired by that artist. This influence can add into the development of someones own personal style of work. However, for this example, if one was to replicate the drawing style and imagery this is not an influence but reproduction of work. This I would say is fine in a respect of it being for personal use only but in publishing it would cross the line into plagiarism.

I use quite a bit of reference images when I do my illustrations. For each project I keep a file of everything I use for that particular project. I find that handy in case I ever go back and do any additional work on it later on. You can find various resources online for stock imagery, or alternatively you can get images from taking your own photos, or the use of live models to do your work. Alex Ross is renowned for using his friends for modelling his characters.

I hope this is helpful, and as always thanks for taking the time for reading my posts.





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