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Daily Deviation
July 14, 2014
The BASICS : Using References by Shattered-Earth  References are an invaluable tool, learning how to use them well can make all the difference to your artwork!
Featured by Elandria
Suggested by TinyFlyThing
Shattered-Earth's avatar

The BASICS : Using References

If you like this tutorial or do not like it, please take some time to tell me why so I will know how to make any future tutorials! Thanks :D:heart:


Disclaimer: Some will disagree with me on how to use references, which is totally normal. This is just how i believe is the best and more beneficial way to use them. If you disagree and have a better tutorial feel free to link in the comments with your (polite) argument, i won't delete them if they aren't flamey or antagonistic XD. Alternate viewpoints to consider: [link] [link]

This is just born out of seeing what a lot of beginner artists do, which is straight up copy a photo and re clothe it. Sure it's legal and like stuff to do this, especially if you credit the photo, but it's not IMO the best way to draw with references. This is not the same as studying from a photo or doing live modelling sessions. Studying is not passed as original art and the goal is to learn and get close to the original. Drawing from the mirror or a live model is also different because of the way your eyes work. You have to actively decide how to flatten the 3d image your eyes receive into one 2d flat image you draw and this exercises your brain in ways photos will never do.

Just copying a single photo for what you have problems with or the entire pose isn't going to be as helpful as examining many, this attempts to replicate what having a live model would do, that is give you dimensions and 3d form to learn from. I believe it's the best way to use references and I believe it'll be beneficial to many beginners.

Stock images are taken from *SenshiStock and ~Nemesis-19 as well as google to illustrate my point. If you have any issues with this please contact me via note :)

Other basic tuts:
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© 2011 - 2022 Shattered-Earth
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PinkPlasticPrincess's avatar

I'm glad this tutorial works for people! Though personally, it'll never work for me. I've always been very bad at picturing and visualizing things in my head, especially in a way that makes sense. (be that from an anatomical or lighting perspective) Because of that, I always rely heavily on references that I have permission to use. Senshistock really is amazing!

BloomSakura's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star: Impact

WELL THEN, I've been going through all your tutorials cause they help me a lot, and this is EXACTLY what I've been doing in some of my art pieces, and I have to say, I'm sort of ashamed. I am definitely going to try this out, but first of all I need to understand what you meant by knowing the basic's of shapes. I think after I understand how to draw shapes, practise it like a boss, then some anatomy and gesture drawings again, I'll get better at drawing from my imagination. One of the things for me as an artist that really bummed me out and made me not want to draw was not being able to draw things from my imagination, and this tutorial helped me understand that yes, you have to use your brain, ye you have to reference and practice it a few times after you analyze it but once you get that part you can draw whatever you learned without using anything! Honestly, I'm still having difficult's learning how to draw cause I don't know where to start, I'm just going off what I want to improve. XD But this definitely helped me cause I know I want to draw people. <img src="…" width="15" height="15" alt=":D" data-embed-type="emoticon" data-embed-id="366" title=":D (Big Grin)"/> Thank you for the tutorial and you're awesome!
3Dhealing's avatar
When I've used a reference, even the fact I'm posing a 3D model, I've copied it exactly. I'm really glad I stumbled on this, I'll be transferring the advice to my program instead of trying to copy something identically! Cheers!! <3 
catsofiron's avatar
Thank you! I always struggle when using references, so this really helped me think of it differently. 
DrAgOnSfLy006's avatar
I just needed those points pointed out to me. thanks!
InsideWayne's avatar
very useful information for improving thank you! :)
GuyGenesis's avatar
This seems useful, and I enjoyed your humor. Teaching someone to rely on their self, when possible, is always best.
I've started drawing this year and just drew what my favorite scene was from a games and tv series but now I see its wrong to copy the ep image even if I never tracedMeow :3:) (Smile) .Even tho my brother said it's good practice,I shouldn't post it:( (Sad) .Thank you for posting this,I was looking for a reference really meant:) (Smile) 
SwordTiger8888's avatar
DrExodium's avatar
This is a really good tutorial but it´s nothing that i´m looking for.
sammilo13's avatar
You're never too old to learn the basics. Even if you've been going to art school and they never actually teach you this specifically in such detail as this. 

Definitely helpful. Thanks for this!
GSquadron's avatar
Wow, this greatly helped! :D
Inkary's avatar
I can't stress enough how important and good this tutorial is. Thank you!
Kilo60's avatar
OSCAR WINNING. :clap: :clap: :clap: 
Super-Aaron-360's avatar
Thank you for this.
SilverPhoenix-11's avatar
YEEE :D this is v helpful!
lol your tutorial is so much fun! You sound so funny!  and strict in the same time.  Thats how i like about a teacher/tutorials^^ Thank you for this tutorial, I learned so much from it. Yayy!! Cant wait to read your other tutorials "-"
shabawaba's avatar
Thanks so much for this! I was worried if I used a reference when drawing it wouldn't be my own work or whatever, but now I look back on when I started drawing and think about this, and most of it is so true. If I had never used references back then I would never been able to draw human anatomy ( on paper, I still draw with a mouse on its.......challenging...) like I can now. Tanku!
LuminaraUnduli's avatar
I learned...nothing. sorry but i'm not good at anatomy? What now?
Lyguani's avatar
well....that confirms it.  Thanks. :)
Envarchy's avatar
nerevars's avatar
I have a question. 

What if we draw the exact same pose just because we like the pose and we got an inspiration from the pose? 
So, we use a reference because we like it, not need it, but got an inspiration of it.
Shattered-Earth's avatar
what is the question though? What if that? What result are you trying to question?
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