There are many advantages of drawing from reference photos, especially if you are not that good at making up stuff to draw. Even though you may use a reference photo to draw, you don’t always have to make your drawings exactly like the picture. Sometimes it is fun to see if you can achieve that by duplicating an image, and this will test your skills for sure, but the main reason for using reference photos is to get new ideas. Reference images are great for sparking new ideas that gives you some starting point. Have you ever sat there trying to think of something to draw and you just couldn’t come up with any ideas? I remember trying to draw something that was different and unique, hoping to do something in a way that nobody else has, so I could invent my own style. The end result was, I sat there scribbling for 20 minutes or more and never accomplished anything.
Let me show you one of my drawings that I have taken ideas from using a reference photo one day, and this really helped me to draw something unique in my own style. I had taken every element in the photo and turned it into my own work of art. Look at the drawing below, and I will walk you through the steps I had taken to put this all together, so that it doesn’t look exactly like anything you have ever seen on the internet, or any where else. You can click the image to enlarge it if you need to see a larger picture.
I don’t have the actual photo that I used anymore because once I draw something, I usually discard it. I do however have it in a video I created to explain how to use reference photos to spark ideas. If you were to see the original reference photo that I used, you would see some similarities if you looked hard enough, but you wouldn’t notice it if I hadn’t told you. I took the bank around the water and used the same layout of where the trees are, but I didn’t draw the same kind of trees. I mixed it up and I had drawn trees and weeds the way that I know how to draw them, and this made it my own. I then added the little campfire on the bank that I made up ,along with the broken limb on the bank. There was a limb similar to this one in the real photo, I just gave the limb my own spin.
You can view the video below where I explain the advantages of drawing from reference photos, this will explain the benefits in more detail. The video isn’t too long, so take a look at it and you will see why reference photos are important. You can watch this in full screen mode if you need to enlarge it.
You use reference photos as a template to help you not only spark new ideas, but to guide you in deciding where to place each element on the canvas. I can’t stress enough that using photographs as a guide means just that – a guide. A lot of people only use them to try and replicate an image, but they will actually help you get fresh ideas when your thoughts have drawn a blank. The next time you draw, use this tip, because when you need new drawing ideas, this will help you greatly.