Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Photo Reference

Photos are a big help, but you can’t take them too literally.

I wanted to paint a picture of an elegant gentleman scrubbing the teeth of a Baryonyx. But all I had available for a model was myself. So I grabbed some baggy pants and a long jacket and stood on the driveway with a push broom.

On its own, the photo is pretty unimpressive. The shadows are too black. The legs appear too short. The coat hangs straight down in wrinkles that don’t describe any action. The pose needed a better sense of action and a clearer silhouette. Every photo is just a starting place, and the fun begins when you make departures from the facts they present.


J Gilpin said...

Good Morning,
I'm so glad you discuss the use of photos, especially not copying them slavishly. There has been a fair amount of discussion in the comic community about this - some artists are getting berated for their heavy use of photo reference. I think the key is to have the reference image serve you - not the other way around. One way is to have a sketch or rough done before you search out the photo. That way the concept is not compromised by the "reality" but instead buttressed to make the fantasy more believable.

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

I would love to play in your costume closet! Thank you for one of the best blogs online. Ever since I tried hatching a dinosaur egg as a child (with disappointing results), I have dreamed of a world where dinos and people could co-exist. Thank you for giving the world Dinotopia.

Anonymous said...

Very good advice, sir! :D

I've seen many people take their references to the letter and end up with weird results. The funny part is that they're usually thinking "wait, I used reference! Why isn't it looking as good as the photograph?", and end up not figuring out what's wrong with their pictures.

Of course, I'm guilty as charged of not using enough reference most of the time, so I guess the argument is kinda biased. When I do use reference, though, I try to avoid turning my pictures into copies of the reference (I usually take only the skeleton and the action lines as a basis).

Tiger vs lion the facts said...

did anyone see Frazettas rough work book, you can see concept water colors done completely from imagination of his oil paintings, theres such life and fluidness in the paintings, if there was photo reference it would not look the same.