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The BASICS : Using References by Shattered-Earth The BASICS : Using References by Shattered-Earth
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:

USING REFERENCES


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.

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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 :)

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Given 2014-07-14
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! ( Suggested by FlyQueen and Featured by Elandria )

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:iconmitsosr:
MitsosR Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Student Digital Artist
Omg thanks to you now i undestand how to use references THANK YOU! i was copyin exaclty what i was seeing and i had no good results but not now <3 !
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:iconyezuus:
yezuus Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2015
I needed to have something clarified. The section where you say that breaking down the reference should be in your head? So are you saying just to look at it or to redraw it? 
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2015   Digital Artist
you should look at it, but if it helps you practice to redrew it (personally for your own practice) then you should do that too!
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:iconyezuus:
yezuus Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2015
I think the way you approach using references is probably the best way if you want to draw from imagination. Having said that, I also think it's important for the artist to also study their foundational skills particularly gesture, structure and anatomy in addition to using references this way. 
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2015   Digital Artist
Of course, i don't think i ever said you shouldn't? Using references and learning from images is only one tiny part of being an artist!
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:iconyezuus:
yezuus Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2015
Well you didn't include that in the tutorial. Also you say of course like it's obvious but the reality is that most artists don't learn those skills. How many artists study bridgeman and understand how to rotate structures in their minds? How may artists understand how twist, tilt and lean works or the basic principles of fabric? Understanding those first are prerequisites before approaching references this way otherwise it's just going to be a headache
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2015   Digital Artist
Okay but this tutorial isn't called HOW TO DRAW, it's how to use references. I actually have separate tutorials on lighting and folds, did you really thing a single tutorial that is clearly labelled about one subject should focus on every aspect of learning to draw?? Honestly, I'm not even disagreeing with you but you're free to make your own tutorials instead of having strange expectations of others'
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:iconyezuus:
yezuus Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2015
Obviously, there is no way that you could include tutorials for the basics. What I'm suggesting is that you mention that an artist should study their basics( and clarified what those basics are) in additions to using references the way you mentioned if you wanted to make the tutorial more helpful. A simple sentence would have sufficed. 
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2015   Digital Artist
Okay you could have just suggested that in the first place instead of being super passive aggressive about it :)
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:iconvulpineninja:
VulpineNinja Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I know it's a little late for me to comment, but wow thanks for recommending the use of several refs.

What I usually do is to pick one refs, flip or rotate it to fit with what kind of action I want the character to do, then 'copy' or trace (I only trace if I'm in a hurry/chasing deadlines, otherwise I don't recommend this method either).

However, copying real life pose 100% will make your 2D/cartoon character look kind of stiff. This is where you need to apply exaggeration or dynamism, hence making your character slightly out of proportion (like making the character's backbone bend into impossible angles). Imho this is ok because it's done for aesthetic purpose. And it gives 'life' to your character and the illustration as whole.

So when I trace or copy, I'd draw the base or skeleton over it, instead of directly tracing the pose. This is so that I can slightly elongate the limbs, widen the chest or making the waist slimmer, or add more dynamics before I apply lineart on it. Ironically following real life human anatomy kind of makes your cartoony character looks out of proportion instead. It's not that I'm against learning anatomy though. Understand anatomy first before you manipulate it into your own style.
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:iconnasexsavkifs:
nasexsavkifs Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh my gosh, I've been copying for all this time. I'm gonna try this technique out next time. This was a very enlightening tutorial. Thank-you :heart:
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:iconlychalis:
Lychalis Featured By Owner May 15, 2015  Student Writer
Will this technique work for pen and paper drawing? What should I do if it doesn't?
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:iconequinox-42:
Equinox-42 Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2015  Student General Artist
I'm designing a character and I suck at drawing, but this is really helpful *fave*
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:icontwilightmoonangel:
TwilightMoonAngel Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2015  Student Digital Artist
I'm doing a character design project right now and I'm apprently to stupid to get the idea of refernecing, but as I'm no good at human figures this has helped me understand that copying an image = bad trying myself to get the propotions right = good even if it takes all damn day (when I have less than a week to get 4 characters drawn and 4 different poses plus turn-arounds.) *gun to the head* 
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:iconfishingjb:
FishingJB Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for explaining it so clearly!
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:iconlilitheweirdprincess:
LiliTheWeirdPrincess Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2014  Student General Artist
That's really a cool tutorial ! ^^
Reply
:iconartrefugium:
ArTRefugiuM Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2014   Traditional Artist
This appeared in my inbox just at the right time. I need a gun pose reference tutorial thing right now :o thank you very much!
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:iconsetokaiba623:
setokaiba623 Featured By Owner Edited Dec 29, 2014  Student General Artist
I have always been someone who only draws what he sees and this has put it into a whole new prospective for me. This is amazing!This is extremely helpful. Thanks!
Reply
:iconynne-black:
ynne-black Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2014  Student General Artist
This is definitely one of the best tutorials I've ever seen
Honestly

//I suck at anatomy so I should do this more often but I usually give up or spend infinity in front of a mirror and then give up
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:iconuntoldpromises:
UntoldPromises Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I LOVE YOU. Thanks!
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:iconsakura-iro:
Sakura-iro Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Llama Emoji-66 (Orly) [V3] YeeeEEeeeee omg i cant ev- kfajlwefaoweiga. I copy from refs too much saying that I'll only peek a little.. then I start to copy the whole thing.. Lol. This tutorial is super helpful, thank you so much!! :D  Ive kinda always wanted to draw things without looking at my own body parts *cough hands cough* :( Also the tutorial is hilarious! Keep making them! :dummy::dummy::dummy:
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:iconwretchedkalamity:
WretchedKalamity Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Honestly I was one of those dicknut fools who thought that using references was cheating, but now I'm honestly starting to understand what i'm doing so much more now that I'm using them.
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:icontillytubby:
tillytubby Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2014
I can't stress enough how extremely helpful this was, thank you!!!
Reply
:iconbriannam1311:
briannam1311 Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2014
so far this is the only thing thats helped me with this, and with knowing that i actually have to keep doing it. at first i didnt know how to start out but this is very helpful.
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:icontakoooyaki:
TakoOoyaki Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you! It's really helpful!
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:iconstevoe26:
stevoE26 Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
holy shit YES!!!
iv found myself copying poses from photos etc so much lately and i feel so helpless when i want to change it drasticaly
this has changed my whole outlook on art! 
thank you so much :D
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2014   Digital Artist
woah i'm glad i could help you break through and hopeuflly produce even more steller work!
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:iconstevoe26:
stevoE26 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thanks
your tutorials are great!
i found this and the fold/wrinkles one really useful :)
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:iconlily-misses:
Lily-Misses Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2014  Student Digital Artist
This is really helpful! I've only just started with drawing digitally, and I copied exactly what I saw when I was younger. I was doing the exact thing you said not to do because of the exact reasons you said, and this made me feel a lot better! 
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:iconmizdawesome:
MizDawesome Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I very much enjoyed this tutorial because it doesn't just bark orders at someone to do something, it explains and gives good reasons as to why this would be more beneficial to someone. I honestly hadn't thought of this before and I think it's absolutely brilliant. I'm definitely gonna try this out at some point. Thanks a bunch! :D
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014   Digital Artist
Thanks! I'm a big fan of trying to explain why something is the way it is instead of telling someone something is right XD. I'm glad that came through, good luck in your art endeavors!
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:iconmizdawesome:
MizDawesome Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
It very much did and I'm glad to finally see someone using this method! Keep it up, I really appreciate all the work you do :)
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:iconambsi:
Ambsi Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2014
Oh wow, this is great. I was trying to teach myself how to draw by copying from photos, but that always made me feel so limited in what I could do... This is just what I needed, thank you so much!
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2014   Digital Artist
! I'm glad it could open some doors for you!
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:icontolkienandtea:
tolkienandtea Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Finally someone said it! This is a super awesome (and rather funny) tutorial!
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:iconsoph-chan:
Soph-chan Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for this - because really, we really DO forget to just go back to basics.
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:iconkriscynical:
KrisCynical Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Every junior high/high school art class should explain this and drill it into the students' heads. If they would, there'd be far less confusion as to what it means to "Reference" vs. "Outright Copy and Change Some Details".
Reply
:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014   Digital Artist
I've heard some unsavory teachers/schools tell their students they SHOULD copy and just change 40% or something like that to make it legal v_v
Reply
:iconkriscynical:
KrisCynical Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I have too, unfortunately. And I want to slap every single one of them. :|
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:iconnoxe-applepi:
Noxe-ApplePi Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2014  Student General Artist
This is actually exactly how I always do it :D but other people are usually too lazy
thanks for writing/drawing it out!
Reply
:iconangelfabeth:
angelfabeth Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, this was really useful! Thanks :D
Reply
:iconpink-crest:
pink-crest Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
you're really understand my feeling ;A;
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:iconnonier:
NonieR Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014
YES! ***THIS!***

--Nonie
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:iconsolanapple:
Solanapple Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014
You have understand the life.
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:iconyorgisen:
Yorgisen Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thank you so much, this is really helpful.
Reply
:iconkiwicocktail:
KiwiCocktail Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great tutorial, thanks for sharing! :)
Reply
:iconpetrotasia:
Petrotasia Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014
YES
I admire you for doing this, I see my friends using references the "wrong" way and I would face-palm, but I got no guts or good explanation to say that they're just kinda coping the image

I still don't learn after seeing these images a gazillion times though, I had to use the images again the next time I draw the angle XD
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:iconsaaally:
Saaally Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014
This says it all! To sum it up: use references to STUDY anatomy, not as a way to avoid having to figure it out/to avoid having to figure out poses by yourself <3
Reply
:iconikaika-puuwai:
ikaika-puuwai Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014
Oooh, so helpful, Thanks! I was one of those people who always copy ... Blush 
Reply
:iconxxamufujibioshixx:
XxAmuFujibioshixX Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Student
This is explained excellently! A lot of aspiring artists fail to realize this XD (I've only recently realized, and so I'm reteaching myself what I know of drawing)
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