View Full Version : Question about Photo Reference

01-15-2005, 04:36 PM
When people say they've used a reference do they mean that they took the pic, copy + pasted it into PS/Painter/w.e, and then just painted over it? Or do they mean they just had the photo next to them? Thanks

01-15-2005, 04:44 PM
Nobody ever admits to the first one, but is obvious a lot of people do it. I have drawn a layer directly over a drawing for color excersizes, but I draw everything else, sometimes using references if I get stuck. In my drawing, "littile lionheart" at the bottom of this screen, I used a photo reference for the hand holding the stone. But I drew from it.
But from this picture:
I just made a layer over my own face and studied the skin and the light and stuff with the brush.
There is certainly an interesting style that develops from drawing over a picture, but its not very noble in my humble opinion.
Still, people dont pay for noble. They pay for good.

01-15-2005, 05:01 PM
Here is a good tutorial by PAC about using photo reference that I thought was helpful.

Tutorial (

01-15-2005, 06:35 PM
I once wrote a tutorial on the first, in that case, I saw nothing wrong with it, I was at a friends place and the illumination from the cup was just amazing, therefor I wanted to try something, and took a couple of photos to work with.
As I also had taken the photos, I think it was ok, taking someone elses photos isnt the best of moral things to do.

Normaly If I'm in a hurry, my idea of referencephoto is lifting the photo into photoshop to plot out proportions and where things should be then toss the photo or having a webpage open and look at similarities there.
Thing is, if you paint everything to the exact according to a photo then you prolly wont catch a persons features.

Take theese examples:
I sketched it with a frame from LOTR on hold on my tv.

and this:
Painted with no reference, just posted the WIP on a board with bloomfans and had them give me critics on what to change so it would look like bloom.

On this one I lifted a screenshot into the picture, marked with a grey marker where eyes and mouth and cheeckbones where supposed to be, then tossed the photo:

problem with doing this, or paint portraits of someone else than your loved ones it seems. Is that you get a lot of comments saying its paintovers. On this occasion I wanted it to be obvious that it was bean in eqilibrium, its his best role in my opinion, and my favourite movie.

I have never used a photo as background and painted in details, nore used parts of photos and tried to pull it off as a painting, that thing only comes back to bite you in the butt.

My opinion is prolly seen as somewhat liberal by some, but hey, I tell people how I did things, take it or leave it :D

01-15-2005, 07:05 PM
then theres something called tracing, and then theres tracing and posting without saying so:

this we dislike :p

01-15-2005, 07:38 PM
Then you have the "midly and partial inspired by" Personaly, I dont see the use of mention them when I post the work.
Like this one:

01-15-2005, 08:29 PM
edit; but most of all, dont be to quick to judge people.

01-15-2005, 09:04 PM
The world is so complicated that reference is a necesity (unless of course you're a genius like Frank Frazetta).

It all really depends on the look you're after. If you like comic painter Alex Ross (, cover artist's Glenn Fabry (, Michael Whealan (, or concept design legend Syd Mead ( and want your work to be similar you better have access to a large "swipe file" and some models.

Such a photorealistic look is almost impossible to do otherwise. Don't be ashamed of it.

Frank Frazetta (, John Buscema ( and maybe about twenty-five or so other modern artists have that magical ability to, for example, "draw the exact characters from the Wizard of Oz film sitting in a Panzer Tank on 42nd street in 1942" WITHOUT REFERENCE.

I think the "reference stigma" is something particular to digital art. With minimal work a digital artist can cut and paste together a pretty good image. The sweat and tears us traditional guys go through to get the picture right don't exist in this digital age.

... and that's fine. However, I think it will take a few years for the new digital methods to be widely accepted.

I would look at some tuts of traditional artists to see how reference used and adapt them to your way of thinking.
Some suggestions-

The Techniques of Syd Mead Volume 4:Final Gouache Rendering ( DVD from The Gnoman Workshop. He demonstrates how he incorporates photographic reference in the final painting.

Fantasy Art Masters: The Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Artists Show How They Work (

and any issue of Wizard magazine that has a tutorial of Alex Ross in it.

01-15-2005, 09:20 PM
life drawing or *drawing from life* is basically goin out an drawing what u see,so are these guys...tracers???no cos like one other guy jus sed,its impossible to draw certain things without seeing them in front of u or having something to refer too.

i don't think anyone in this forum is a tracer.

i everyone....its really something for u to REFER too,hence the name REFER-ence.u use it as a guide,not to copy exactly *unless thats what ur goin for*

01-15-2005, 09:39 PM

i don't think anyone in this forum is a tracer.


try pressing the link i posted. theres atleast 1 ;)

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