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Errors about... Reference

Journal Entry: Mon Jan 25, 2016, 8:18 AM

Using reference is cheating

Absolutely not. You will learn to draw with fewer references, but before that, you need something to look at. It's the tiny details that always make it worthwile; how the sinews on the neck strain, what colour a spider in sunset is, how the wheels of an amphibian vehicle are arranged. Every artist learns to draw from models. Whether you attend life drawing classes or use fashion catalogues, you will not be able to get everything right without looking. Besides, all great masters used reference: and if Leonardo drew the Mona Lisa from a model, why would it be cheating for you?
Try this: Before starting the artwork, look at all the inspirational material you gathered. Do a few studies on them. Then banish all of it and, with you head filled with the fresh visions, start working.

I have to stick to my reference

Sometimes you just need the leg pose, or the skirt, or the bomb's shell, not the rest. Piece together what you need for your artwork, rearrange and leave out. If your model has a square chin and you need pointy, go ahead and change it. But be careful; change the head posture and take care of the neck, too; change the vehicle's armour and make sure it doesn't keel over.

If my drawing looks like the reference, it's correct

Sadly, only because your drawing is exact, it is not automatically correct. As a rule of thumb, if it looks wrong, it is wrong. We accept things in photographs because we know they're made from life; in art created from imagination, we expect more perfection. For example: People could claim a portrait doesn't look right because, although drawn from life, the person had unusual or unattractive features.
Also think of this: Many times you will need to exaggerate to make your point clear to the viewer. If something should be slender, make it really thin; if something is supposed to be pointy, make it razor-sharp. Adjust the level of this caricature to your needs.

Anything is good reference

A reference for a painting with strong side lighting will be difficult to do based on a softly lit photograph. A strong fish-eye effect in your reference can be trouble for correct perspective. You will often need lots of refs for an artwork; for lighting, the face's angle, the anatomy, the movement, the background, and several small details.


Ranarh's Profile Picture
Current Residence: Northern Germany
Favourite style of art: digital - fantasy


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Katois Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Student Artist
You have a new watcher! I see your art beautiful and tutorials very useful :D Let me learn here for a while :D
Ranarh Featured By Owner 1 day ago
I'm so happy to hear that! And nicely said :nod:
TheNaughtyPirate Featured By Owner 3 days ago   General Artist
I am so glad I stumbled upon your Tiny Tips! Thank you so much for taking the time to prepare them. :ahoy:
Ranarh Featured By Owner 2 days ago
You are welcome! Any wishes about the subject for the next Tiny Tip?
TheNaughtyPirate Featured By Owner 1 day ago   General Artist
Hmm, not as of yet, but if/when I think of something, I will be sure to let you know! :heart:
Black-Wren Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2015
I just have to ask because I may have missed the announcement... but are you doing the calendar again this year?
Ranarh Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2015
I'm sorry, there will be no calendar for 2016. Mostly because I'm unhappy with the choice of artworks for it; and it is an unfortunate amount of work, as you could see for the 2015 calendar when I placed the quotes badly in my haste. I'm sure there will be one for 2017, and with superb paintings, but I'll have to make those first.
Thanks a lot for asking, though :)
Black-Wren Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2015
Sigh...  I understand.  Looking forward to 2017!
Ranarh Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2015
At least you gave me an incentive to work really hard during the year and make some killer pieces :)
WorldBuildersInc Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
I am already fascinated by your Genius Loci project. Are you planning on a book/series based there, or is there already a webcomic or something similar that I'm not aware of? :)
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