View Full Version : Photo refernece question...

07 July 2005, 02:31 PM
Hi, I just got my first wacom...I've figured out how to draw without moving my pad (arrrrrrrhhhhhhhh :scream: ) and I've actually started learning blending in photoshop (which heretofore has been used

now I have one quick question...when you all say you are using photos for reference, are you actually using the photo as a layer, or just using it like a model ie: sitting it next to your computer and sketching)? I'm sure this is an assinine question, but I'm so new at the whole computer gig and art that it's mind boggling....The photo realistic qualities of some of your work amazes me (and I don't just mean realistic stuff..all of it) ...and I just can't figure out how to get from line drawings to blow your mind truism....all on the, that said...

thanks for any help....I have a thousand questions, but I just keep using search, and trying to figure it out...this is a strange new world (I've been a conventional artist for about 15 years)

anyway....I'd appreciate it...


07 July 2005, 02:44 PM
Welcome to Cgtalk - madness awaits!
to answer your question, for the most part photo reference is used as a guide. This can be for anatomy, proportions, historical etc. Unless you are recreating a scene digitally from a photo (for a study or from a personal photo etc, and in which case its most likely used as a layer), its usually just on the side. However, different situations mean different use of reference material. I've done work with reference as a layer, and other work i simply cant do that, or dont need or want to. Sometimes photo reference can be used for anything from total form and perspective to concepts and ideas - inspiration, to texture. it really can vary. Ultimately we'd all like to not have to rely on reference, and im sure some of us dont.....

The blow your mind truism you seek...well....drop me a line if you figure it out.

07 July 2005, 03:02 PM
Thanks for the welcome Peddy! You aren't kidding about the madness...I've never sat so long in my life...hours and hours and hours...I can see why people buy laptops...geesh.

All that makes perfect sense, thank you. I'm not one that is a big fan of "sticking to the facts" so I'd rather not depend on photos for my work...that said, it's always a nice option

ok, THANK YOU (I think I'm going to be saying that quite a bit in the next few weeks)!! It helps A LOT!


07 July 2005, 03:12 PM
its important to realise that every artist (im not going to generalise, but its just easier to make the point this way) uses reference. theres a certain stage in drawing (for example) where you simply cant draw something without looking at it first. its a natural part of art, and you still learn a bundle from using reference - its not like the photo does all the work.

07 July 2005, 03:46 PM
Hi fourcrows,

My wife bought me a Wacom tablet last year which Ive only recently started using. It does take a moment to get used to but I will say this, once you do, you will be addicted.

As far as photos go, Ive used photo refences in almost every way that Peddy outlined, but I would say generally I myself use them more for color pallettes. Still, theres no set way on how to use them, its whatever works for you.

Im a big fan of the Malcom X train of thought when it comes to art: Do whatever it takes to make an outstanding and original piece of artwork, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY:)

07 July 2005, 03:53 PM
Typically "photoref used" means that the artist used the photo as well... a reference :)


ps: enjoy your wacom!

07 July 2005, 04:46 PM
You know, I think it's important to mix things up. When the photo is not the end media, it is a tool, ergo, you just need to pick "the right tool for the job".

Personally, I've tried out the following things:

I've used the photo as a reference that I place next to the monitor.
I've created lineart of a photo in a separate layer. Then I deleted or blocked the photo layer and just painted over the lineart.
I've painted over a scanned drawing made from reality. I like this one the most.
The third option requires doing a bit more editing, since my paper is usually white, and I want to often use a colored background. Ergo, I almost always end up making a trace of the drawing in another layer, then creating another background layer with the color I want.

As a final note, IMO, it's important to mix up references. Draw from reality, as well as don't use any references. Photos always seem to dominate my decision making if I leave them in plain view too long. I like to hide them away.

07 July 2005, 06:54 PM
This is all great info, thanks everyone! My biggest fear after spending a couple of days with the wacom is the realization (at this very early stage) that it's really not like painting at all. I can usually sketch something out in a sketchbook to find the concept I want to go with, then move to a canvas or larger support of some kind, re-work it onto that, then set to painting.

In the painting process, I can tweak to my hearts content...creating depth as needed, where needed...

So, I thought maybe the only way to truly get depth was to work from a photo. I know I'm probably not being clear, but I'm soooo new at this. Peddy, I realize you must use reference, at least at some point, I never have issues with that (I'm always adding notes for needed references on my sketchpad) I just didn't want to have to work from then all the time...

mrtristan, have you ever thought of scanning your sketches, then copy and paste them onto a transparent layer, select your sketch, inverse and cut. This would give you a floating just seems easier to me, unless I'm misunderstanding what you're saying....(I started out as a photog, and love photoshop)

Gord, when you say used do you mean used in a layer, or just reviewed...LOL....(sorta like "what's your meaning of is"...but that was exactly my question in the beginning... :D

I love that view's Perfect!! I need to quit worrying about rules...

Which leads to the biggest difference here...the need to know all this technical stuff..with a painting all I need is paint...or whatever, and I can create anything....this can be a study in frustration...but I love a challenge!!

Thanks everyone so much!!

07 July 2005, 07:21 PM
Use any reference you want. Just don't trace. :)

(i could expand that to multiple paragraphs, but thats the general idea ;) )

07 July 2005, 08:38 PM
well you could...but I want to bring this one as an example, >>blink<< ( I found this an enlightening experience as to whther why I never even got into using photo's for reference, and ONLY just for study.

07 July 2005, 09:10 PM
hehehehe...first of all...I said I like a challenge, second, I haven't been doing what I do for all these years just so I could take up puter stuff and start tracing...and C (lol) .......


......nevermind........I better just be quiet about jm's post...... :applause: except to say...YEP!

07 July 2005, 02:26 AM
well, it was rude...:blush: I apologise for any offense I might have done...:surprised...yah..

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