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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:


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 :)

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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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VulpineNinja Featured By Owner 9 hours ago  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.
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:
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?
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*
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* 
FishingJB Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for explaining it so clearly!
LiliTheWeirdPrincess Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2014  Student General Artist
That's really a cool tutorial ! ^^
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!
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!
ynne-black Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2014  Student General Artist
This is definitely one of the best tutorials I've ever seen

//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
UntoldPromises Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I LOVE YOU. Thanks!
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:
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.
tillytubby Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2014
I can't stress enough how extremely helpful this was, thank you!!!
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.
TakoOoyaki Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you! It's really helpful!
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
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!
stevoE26 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
your tutorials are great!
i found this and the fold/wrinkles one really useful :)
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! 
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
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!
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 :)
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!
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2014   Digital Artist
! I'm glad it could open some doors for you!
tolkienandtea Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Finally someone said it! This is a super awesome (and rather funny) tutorial!
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.
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".
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
KrisCynical Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I have too, unfortunately. And I want to slap every single one of them. :|
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!
angelfabeth Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, this was really useful! Thanks :D
pink-crest Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
you're really understand my feeling ;A;
NonieR Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014
YES! ***THIS!***

Solanapple Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014
You have understand the life.
Yorgisen Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thank you so much, this is really helpful.
KiwiCocktail Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great tutorial, thanks for sharing! :)
Petrotasia Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014
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
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
ikaika-puuwai Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014
Oooh, so helpful, Thanks! I was one of those people who always copy ... Blush 
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)
Biku--Chan Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm saving it so I don't need internet to use this :3
ZoroARKangel Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
That is some insight that would make my future drawings much more unique.  Thanks for the advice.
Netbug009 Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Student Writer
I kinda do a middle where I use a reference when I need a good action pose and am not sure what I'm doing, but I just make a stick figure based on it and mold it to what I need rather than tracing. Thoughts? 
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014   Digital Artist
If you're having trouble thinknig of poses, i suggest doing some study sessions before you try to draw a finished piece next. Just study and redraw lots of action poses, watch some action movies or acrobatics clips on youtube and sketch the poses in them as you watch, go really fast and learn how the body looks when it's moving. Next time you try to think of a pose you'll have more experience to draw from in your mind before you resort to finding an existing pose :)
Saaally Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014
I believe that's a perfectly fine way of using refs [as long as you're comfortable making the changes you want/need and are not trapped/limited by the ref you're using, of course], specially when you find the perfect pose, but i believe the point of this tutorial of to help people realize that 1: you can use various references for various [or just one] part of the anatomy/an object even when creating your own pose and 2: references are a great way to study anatomy and become so good at it that, understanding how the human body works, you'll be able to draw it in various poses and angles without any ref :3
Liteblue-L13 Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've never tried using multiple references at a time... Probably why my anatomy is so wonky. ;w; I'll be needing this...
xijhmclarenQ Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I never saw it that way, thanks!
Arabianwolflove Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
 I already have a method of studying and drawing over and over, a bit like this, but I love the way you explain it!
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
I’m very happy for you!!! :iconloveloveplz: :tighthug:
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