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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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:iconpurpleblu:
purpleblu Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
FOR EXAMPLE, while I was searching Google Images, i saw this picture(real life photo) and i really like the pose and it inspire me to create my own version of it... What if i just want to copy the whole pose at the same angle but i do the anatomy, body proportion, shading, clothing, hair, etc? I find it really hard to invent a pose in my mind. Someone please answer me, what do you think about this? Is it degrading for an artist? Pose arent copyrighted, right?
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2016   Digital Artist
Poses are not copy right, but you are doing a disservice to yourself to always rely on someone else to come up with the pose for you. You should use those poses to practice, and exercise your mind to get better at drawing poses. What happens if you need to draw something for someone else (like a job) but  you can't think of a pose and have to tell people to wait till you can google one?
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:iconpurpleblu:
purpleblu Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ok i get it but What do you think about deviants who uses stock photo or their own photo (with their own pose) to copy the pose for their artwork. Ive seen someone who said that when he copy the pose from his photo, he eyeballs the gesture and work from that.
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:icontherainhascleared:
TheRainHasCleared Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2016
Oooh thank you! I've been copying photos (not tracing) when I draw, and I notice I always have to go back to the picture each time I draw. 
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:iconmyfadingkathryn:
MyFadingKathryn Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
i don't wanna do all the hardwork ( ,-_-)
*wanna cut my hands off everytime they draw something wrong//

damn it i'm a lazy bone Worried/Blushing Sans Emote 
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:iconroman11777:
roman11777 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Could you do a tutorial on shapes?
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:iconmycreativeinsanity:
mycreativeinsanity Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is not a bad way to use Reference however Norman Rockwell used references and he basically copied some almost exactly like the pictures he had and the man is a great artist however if he is not to your taste so did Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, Gil Elvgren, Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Disney studio and Studio Ghibli if you like girls like Betty Page the women was a living Reference and they did not just take a photo and slightly referenced the pose that she was in they drew her almost exactly like the photos check out Olivia De Berardinis she has done beautiful work of Betty page I think tracing is where people go wrong do not trace the proper way to use a reference is by looking at the reference and drawing what you see, and there is no eventually you'll never need a reference again no one is impressed by peoples freaky anatomy unless that is what you are going for so please use a Reference when you need too.
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2016   Digital Artist
All these people either hired models to pose for them or hired models to photograph, or bought photographs (paying the photographer and model) for their work.

Literally my entire point is to reference when you need to, that's the only way you learn new things. You will reference for the rest of your life you try new things. That's how it works. 
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:iconmycreativeinsanity:
mycreativeinsanity Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Actually no all of them did not hire models to pose for them or paid anything they might have paid for a photo but it was like a couple of bucks not until later in their careers did they start paying people to model.

In your tut you are basically saying coping the photo is not a good thing you draw it as poop all I'm trying to say is that a new artist shouldn't think it as poop they should copy the pose and I don't mean trace the pose but try to get the pose the way they see it in the photo and then as they are comfortable then move on and then try referencing photos the way you suggest that is all I was trying to say sorry for being so long winded the comment was not directed at you but I sent a friend to it and made my comment for them they have really bad anatomy and refuse to use references the point was mainly for them so sorry :D
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:iconmoeazy:
Moeazy Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I think the best way is to do a bunch of studies of poses and stuff while learning anatomy,construction, etc... but when you are working on your own personal pieces you should limit your references as much as possible and instead rely on the visual library that you built from your studies. 
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:icontomboyandie337:
TomboyAndie337 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2015
This was pretty cool and funny. :giggle: If you got a burp for support, it can't be anyone else but me. ;) *burps*
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:iconfomle-chan:
Fomle-chan Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
I remember i saw a documentary about a comicon in mexico. One guy wanted to get a job as an illustrator in Dark Horse, marvel etc. The comic manager looking at his work asked if he used references for many of his comic stripes. The artist replyed yes, and the manager said: come back when you dont need any references. That just tells me that when you practice enough you can do it without anny references! I stil use references on parts i dont draw very often. Like weapons and some armors, as well as action poses, but i really dream of the day i know i can draw it with no help :))
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2016   Digital Artist
you made that distinction, not me. 
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2015   Digital Artist
Haha, while there's definitely a level where you over rely on references, i don't think there will be a level where you NEVER use references. Using references means you're learning and as an artist, we should always be learning :) If you find you never have to use references, it means you need to extend out of your comfort zone, and keep growing! 
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:iconmoeazy:
Moeazy Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Not really. If I don't use references when i'm actually working on personal pieces but do studies here and there and rely on my visual memory i'll still progress as an artist. 
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2016   Digital Artist
okay but doing studies = using references so... 
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:iconmoeazy:
Moeazy Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
There is a difference between doing studies to build up a visual library and working from imagination on personal pieces vs using reference while you are working on personal pieces.
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2016   Digital Artist
you made that distinction, not me. 
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:iconmoeazy:
Moeazy Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
It's not something I made. There is an actual difference. Reference means you are referring to something hence the prefix refer whereas study is a copy. Anyway, the tutorial is helpful although you mentioned that you should do the "study" in your head which seems pretty advanced. I can draw from imagination but only poses I've already drawn, I can't absorb by simply looking, although I've seen manga artists who do use your method of study. Perhaps, it will come easier with practice ?
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2016   Digital Artist
Dude i'm not saying there ISN'T a difference, i'm saying i never made a distinction when i said you never stop using references. If you are still using references in your practice time to learn you're still using them. you're the one making a big deal of it when i never did. 
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(1 Reply)
:iconnocturnal98:
Nocturnal98 Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Great advice and information! Thank you for providing this, it will help me a lot!
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:iconcookiewolfz:
CookieWolfz Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks!!! I am going to start doing this now!
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:iconripepperoni:
ripepperoni Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2015  Student General Artist
AGGRESSIVE-TONE TEACHING GETS SHIT DONE
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:iconshattered-earth:
Shattered-Earth Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2015   Digital Artist
To be really blunt, i don't think you're at the level where you can copy something well enough to be called plagiarizing right now. 

In the second image, what you're doing is practicing. It's okay to copy images to practice. If you can't draw a pose or something on your own yet, it's okay to copy references and copy them a lot. But it's important to also study them as you copy, and to link back to the reference if you are copying heavily. 

There will be a time when you can draw it well enough without a photo, but might need a photo to get a few details right. And then eventually maybe you may not need a photo again, but almost everyone uses references to get small things down that they just don't know, but they aren't completely basing it off the one photo that's all. 

But you can't get to that level without practicing first, and if you need to copy photos to practice (not to sell or act as if you drew it all by yourself), then do it! 
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:iconmio-fennecdragon:
Mio-Fennecdragon Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I think the main problem is, if you do just copy ( a bit of copying is okay) But if you completely rely on it, you won't be able to learn to not rely on it. its like swimming, or riding a bike, you need stabilisers or floats at first, however, If you rely on it too long you won't be able to learn to swim without relying on them. 
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:iconeriume:
eriume Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
you have no idea how much this helped me! thank you! :) 
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:iconbmlulu:
BMLulu Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Very useful information, thank you. I'm going to keep this in mind when referencing drawings from now on.
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:iconmitsosr:
MitsosR Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2015  Student General 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 Digital Artist
That's really a cool tutorial ! ^^
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: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!
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: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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