Photo Reference for Illustration

Artists have been using photo reference since the invention of the camera.  A photograph insures a pose stays rigid and the folds in the costume’s fabric never change.

A photo is used as a guide and is never meant to be copied exactly.  Proportions in a photo can be quite different from the idealized vision needed for a succesful painting.  The artist must decide what to change, leave out or add during the design stage.

One of the best ways of obtaining reference is by throwing a costume party.  For a series of paintings I’m currently working on, I needed photos of people dressed in eighteenth century clothing.  The Cincinnati Opera was extremely generous in securing me six costumes from one of their local suppliers.  A great group of friends, food and a little wine did the rest.

I had many poses in mind and everyone took turns dressing up and being part of the action.  I now have a collection of reference photos that should provide inspiration for quite a long time.

Figure reference is a vital part of architectural renderings as well.  People must be scaled correctly and drawn well so the client is not distracted by them but instead sees the space bustling with happy customers.

Sometimes you have to go to extreme lengths to get things just right.  Click here to see how Norman Rockwell did it.

About PhillipFreer
Draws, paints and builds stuff. Designs Theme Parks, places and family destinations.

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