Module 3: Using Reference

Reference vs Tracing

As an artist, it is important to build up your visual library and use references in your drawings. The key thing about using a reference is that you are breaking down the object/pose and taking in information about the formation and perspective of the image. Tracing is doing none of this as you are copying down lines rather than learning from it.

CG Cookie – The Importance of Reference

Breaking down a reference

As mentioned above, breaking down a reference allows you to learn about the formation and what shapes make up the object.

Using References

How to find the right reference

There are a lot of sites out there that are great tools to pull reference images from. Here is a video that lists some sites and why they are useful.

Keep in mind to use the images from these sites as a reference and add your own flair as copyright can be an issue if you’re just copying/tracing. Also if you’re trying to reference the human body, stay away from cartoon references as they are stylized and won’t help you get a better understanding of anatomy. Unless of course, you are trying to reference and particular style.

As you improve as an artist, using references will become second nature. You will have a better understanding of how anatomy and perception work and build up your visual library.


Module 3 Ex: 1

Go through this gallery and pick three dynamic poses and break down the reference. After you’ve broken down all three, choose one to incorporate into a drawing.

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