analysis of Dru Blair's painting, please


Okay, I’m posting a Dru Blair painting for the cgitalk members to analyze. Some of us think that Dru’s work is 100% derived from photographic source material, others feel that parts of his paintings may originate from Dru’s imagination. For me, its difficult to tell. One of the airbrush forums pointed to a link on Dru’s site with this image.


SoftImage 3D


Are you asking about this particular piece or the whole of his work ?

I’d say the jet one is inspired by a bunch of different photos, mixed together.
As for the Tica painting I’d say it’s 98% faithfull to a photograph.

There you go, an analysis of wether of not I believe he’s using photos.
But I think the debate around this is a little overblown as from what I gather from the guy’s writings, his work is mostly a commercial venture of a high level of craftmanship.
He’s not pretending to be Rembrandt (who did commercial art…)


Sorry Joe. I should have clarified:

On an earlier thread, several members insisted that Dru is not a real “artist” because all he does is copy photographs (yes, we know about the Tica painting). I’m asking if Dru used a photographic reference to create all parts of this painting which is more typical of his work, or if he might have created parts of the painting without reference.

One person said that it would be obvious where Dru used photo reference and where he didn’t. This image seems fairly convincing overall, so the question is, did all of this painting require photo reference of each part for Dru to create it? Can we identify any areas in which he “invented” elements?

I’m referring to this particular piece, because of it’s overall realism, and that aircraft comprise a lot of his subject matter.

SoftImage 3D


I don’t think every single part of the painting was an exact reproduction of a photo.
The mountains, may or may be directly from a photograph.
(I work on a game with a real good matte painter that produces mountains of that quality from a mix of several different photos).
The green hills and the water are probably from his mind as I find them the less convincing.
But maybe he just didn’t put less efforts into it. As for the jet, it’s probably from a few images.

Even if it was all from his imagination it’s not likely to change my life.
(Unless I get an urge to join the airforce and try the stunt)

As an overall photorealist painting it’s good but not mindshattering.
Good enough to fool a supercial looker but not enough if you suspect it may be airbrush.


I think you misunderstood. The “not really an artist” remark was directed towards the Tica piece–which is essentially a duplicate of a photograph (and if there are differences, it’s very minor). There are lots of other photorealists in the world:

And it’s been debated to death if what they do is “art.” You draw your own conclusions, because it’s YOUR artistic journey, not anyone else’s.

As far as Dru’s other pieces–it’s commercial illustration–straight and simple. I personally like both illustration and fine arts, so it’s not a battle I feel the need to fight. In commercial illustration, NO ONE CARES whether photo-references are used (unless it involves copyright issues), as long as you get the job done. And it’s still up to YOU if you feel that commercial illustration is “art.” It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Make up your own mind with your own values and ideals and standards.

And yes, if something looks so real to be almost photographic, then most likely there was photo-reference involved. And if someone HAPPENS to render a part of a painting to look hyper-real, but did not use any reference of any kind (photo or from life), then GOOD FOR HIM that he’s got photographic memory and can memorize how things look in reality, or understand the complex rules of lighting, colors, values, physics, and the amazing world of nature. None of this has any bearing on whether the resulting work will be considered “art” by you, or anyone else. You use YOUR definition. If technique and knowledge are enough to qualify someone as an “artist,” then he’s an artist in your eyes. By that definition, a really gorgeous painting of Elvis or a sad clown on velvet is “art.” That’s fine–different strokes for different folks. Anything that can be projected onto a screen is called a film–but is it a good film? Ahhh, see, that’s still up to YOU to decide. What anyone else says is irrelevant.

If your quest to find out how much photo-reference Dru uses is simply to satisfy your need to qualify his work as “art,” then I think it’s really unnecessary, because how much or how someone uses references influences your feelings about whether he’s an artist is YOUR decision, not anyone elses. If the whole world disagreed with you, would you change your disposition? And if they agreed with you, then what? Do you feel validated to have been “right” in your artistic taste? If you feel the need to defend Dru–it seems he’s already a highly respected artist among his circle, and he’s already spoken out in another forum personally. He needs no defending from someone who knows very little about him, and someone in the original thread already invited him to come and discuss his work personally.

And if you are so curious about which parts of his work was referenced from photos–ASK HIM. If doesn’t matter what we say because we are not him, and what we say really shouldn’t matter to you because we’re not the ones that’s fascinating to you–HE IS.

Also, please just keep discussions about Dru’s work in the original thread. I’m closing this one since we really only need one thread for this topic