Essay - The use of references when creating artwork

My presentation on a controversial topic in art.

The use of references when creating artwork

I am writing this because of the controversial topic of using reference photographs to produce artwork. I think that references should be used because they help you learn what colours are really there and it can help with anatomy/shapes etc .

“My schema and sense of body proportions are very good. However, unless the figure I am drawing is simplified from reality, I will use references to help me.”  

I agree with this person because although you may know how a position is drawn, you could get your proportions a bit off. With a reference, you will see things that could improve your drawings and make them look a lot better.

Another person said this: 

“using references ain't cheating. Even the pros do it.”  

I definitely agree with this statement because it is true, a lot of professional pieces are made using references and it looks a lot better than when someone thinks they know what it looks like and gets it completely wrong. When you draw from your imagination you are relying on our memory which will result in inaccurate drawings. An example of how referencing helps improve artwork is shown in the lion drawings below.

“People quite often believe using reference is "cheating" and that everything should be drawn from your head. While for the best results with your own drawings and improvement, I would recommend not relying 100% on a reference drawing” 

I like this person’s comment as it is extremely helpful using a reference, you mustn't copy it completely, make it your own and always give credit to the original reference. I also like how they said that you should improve your work by using a reference.

“Using reference is cheating”

I am strongly against this comment because it is very hard to draw something if you don’t know what it looks like. It is definitely not cheating to use a reference they are really helpful especially for proportions and colours.I found the below picture online and it really proves my point on how references are very helpful. This artist has drawn a cherry without reference, and then has used a real cherry as a reference and you can clearly see the improvement.

In conclusion I think that using some form of reference to draw from is not cheating. A lot of amazing artists use references on their famous pieces. However, a lot of people believe that if it hasn’t been drawn completely from imagination, then it isn’t really your work. After researching different opinions, mine has not changed and from personal experience I have found references to be very helpful. I do still think that it is extremely helpful to use a reference.

My quotations are from: Lauri Bleu Neuding, former Art teacher and illustrator August 8th 2016  joshp1 Hobbyist Digital Artist July 24th 2016,  private member, RedProductions Member on, Jan 25th 2018.

This is a user generated post from our Arts Award on Voice community and was not edited by the Voice team. We would love to hear your views too! Sign up for an account and make your Voice heard!


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