Why use reference when you draw? Lots of reasons! For example:

Reference Will Make Your Drawings More Accurate

Hamburger Cat Reference

“Drawing Hamburger Cat is hard.” – Vince

Even if you have a good understanding of how to draw something, it doesn’t hurt to find a reference.  Sometimes the difference in making something believable in a drawing are the very subtle details that are forgotten without the use of reference.

So if you’re drawing cars, clothes with lots of folds, airplanes, a cityscape, etc. It’s a good idea to grab some references just to give it that extra bit of accuracy.

The More You Use, The Less You Need Later

When you gather reference and draw from it, you become more familiar with whatever you’re drawing. In a way you’re very much building up a catalog in your mind of how things look that you can pull upon later. Eventually when you go to draw things like rooms, you’ll have several different chairs designs already in your head. Different beds, lamps, dressers, the list goes on and on. This also applies for hairstyles, clothes, shoes, you name it.

This of course doesn’t mean you’ll stop using references, but the more of it you use now the less you’ll need later.

Using References Isn’t Cheating

I shouldn’t have to point this out, but I’ve heard a lot of beginning artists say this. “Using reference is cheating.” It’s not. Using reference is like using any other tool to get better results. If someone wanted to build houses they wouldn’t say that using a hammer was cheating! It’s not cheating. 

They have this idea that to be a legitimate artist you have to be able to come up with everything from your mind. Also don’t think that you’re supposed to strictly copy the references either, it’s to help draw something better. For example, for a complicated pose you might need different references for different parts of the pose.

All professional artists use reference.

Start Collecting Reference

A long time ago artists would clip out drawings from magazines, make xeroxes from books, take photographs, etc. and file them away into filing cabinets filled with labeled folders of their references.

Nowadays you have the luxury of just using google and finding tons of reference at a moments notice!

But I would recommend that you do start your own folders of reference to use on your computer.

Whenever you see clothes, or a room, or a hair-do, or anything that you really like. Save that picture into an appropriate reference folder so that you can view it later when you need it.

This can go for any tutorials or such that you find as well!

Software You Can Use

Here are some free programs that you can use to display and arrange references while you work!




All that said, what are some resources that you feel help make you a better artist? Respond in the comments below.