Overlaying references


Ok guys/gals, please bare with me as I am a complete…and I mean COMPLETE newbie when it comes to drawing. I can do abstract and 3D stuff, but I really want to learn actual freehand based drawing. Anyways, I was curious to know if it’s a good idea to lay your reference image over your art to see where you need to tighten a curve or what. I’m currently drawing the head of a horse from the side since it seems to be a “basic” shape, but the accuracy of my curves are complete fail when I was looking from one image and mine. So I overlaid the image and it gave me a good idea where I need to make changes in order to make it resemble…well…a horses head. Just not sure if this is a good thing, or would it be considered more of a bad habit to pick up?


It’s fine as a beginning exercise, just don’t let it become a crutch. The best way to learn how to draw is to take a basic drawing class.


That’s what I mean. I don’t want to develop bad habits early on that cripple me if I get into more advanced states of drawing.


I agree with rebbeca’s post. But like she said when your starting out i think it can be quite a good thing, if you use it in a positive way though, over laying the image, and then correcting the lines is a bad way of developing your drawing process as the brain isn’t thinking about what your doing and why.

This is just my opinion, but if you free hand an image and you overlay a refence over it, and you see that perhaps some of the lines are to extreme or not the right size, then just sit and look at the refrence over your image for a while and think why you’ve made those decisions for example, to draw a line that is out of proportion to the rest of the image, then if you break down each single line or shade/ highlight down to it’s basic form you should begin to develop a better sense of seeing individual lines and shapes as they really are, not as the brain want’s them to be.

That’s the way i do it anyway :slight_smile:


That’s what I do. I freehand then overlay, check it out because it doesn’t look right in my mind and I can’t see why. So I use it to show me where it went wrong to make it look wrong in my eyes. And usually it’s where the neck curves on animals. I keep making the bend too sharp.


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