View Full Version : Is using reference material considered cheating?

11 November 2006, 01:34 AM
Hi there,
I have been browsing the portfolios and often see that the artist will mention that "no references were used". I am wondering why. Does "reference" in this case refer to a digital reference that the artist might have altered to look like a painting or does it refer to traditional reference materials - live models, photos, or whatever?

My art teachers in college were always so fanatical about the advantages of using a reference. Is there some sort reason why you wouldn't use a traditional reference?

- Rachel

11 November 2006, 12:16 PM
I think you should always use reference...unless you are Michaelangelo, but I'm pretty sure even he used reference too.

oh..and I'm talking about the artist...not the Ninja Turtle! :)

11 November 2006, 03:22 PM
Working with references is essential for 2D/3D - why invent something thats already exists?
I think its important to differ between "using references" and "copy something".

I use references to get inspiration, find out how things looks like, move,...

11 November 2006, 12:04 AM
Using reference - photo or what ever - is surely a good thing and almost a must, but copying a photo with or without very few changes is in my opinion completely lame.

The right thing to do would be to use reference and create something completely original from it - NOT just copy it as unfortunately again these last couple of days some people do and get 3-4-5 stars for it in the 2D gallery .... Well, well, well ....

11 November 2006, 03:10 AM
I think I know which 2 artists you're referring to Gitte, if so I agree... but we mustn't get our pitchforks out. Well at least I'm not allowed, as an FL. So I won't say anymore about it. :)

Reference is great, as long as you ADMIT THAT YOU USED REFERENCE. PREFERRABLY BEFORE ANYONE ASKS. But if you don't say anything at first, at least that's better than LYING FROM THE BEGINNING AND CLAIMING YOU USED NO PHOTO REFERENCE when in fact it's obvious to every pro that you did. It's just sad.

You can use 1 single reference and paint very close to it. (As long as you ADMIT IT!) That's a great technical exercise, we should all do some of that. but not really worth posting such images here, right?... what did you really add to the image? Not much.
Better to use many different sources of reference, and change them. Work them, customize them, personalize them.

Here's an interesting link Jeremy Birn posted:
Note how Degas shot his own photos (very masterfully too!), then comped 3 shots together and added his own personal style and color to the result. It's all about personalizing the result.
Now it's true those guys didn't exactly advertise the fact that they'd used some photo reference... but times were different then. I think today it's important to be open about the process.


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11 November 2006, 03:10 AM
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