Photo reference sometimes gets a bad rep, but it is a vital part of the work process for many artists. With social distancing protocols in place, life classes cannot run, but we still have an abundance of photo reference to fall back on and as we have just released a whole new set of figure reference photos on the Draw Patreon we thought it was time for a blog on how to use it effectively!
When you are using photo reference, be mindful of your purpose. It is easy to sit down and mechanically copy something, but this is not always productive, or fun. Are you looking to emulate a life drawing class? Are you trying to work on that next big painting or just trying to study something specific, such as hands? It doesn't matter what you are trying to do, but it helps to have a purpose when you sit down to draw.
Here are some general tips for picking reference are aimed at figure and portrait work, but are not rules. If you want to get a certain effect, break them!
(Don't forget video, it is a great resource for gesture drawing. You can pause it or try to catch moving poses! These ice skaters were drawn in 1-2 minutes each)
Here are a few things to think about if you are taking your own reference photos to draw from:
(1. Frontal light flattening form 2. Natural Light from right 3. Artificial light from top left – notice how the colour of the light changes)
It isn't quite a substitute for a life drawing class but it can still be rewarding and productive to a series of figure poses from photographs. Here are some thoughts to bear in mind:
(Normal Rockwell – 'The Gossips'. Rockwell worked extensively with reference, but frequently used exaggeration for effect)
Draw is releasing weekly photo-set to our Patreon supporters, with the money raised going directly towards supporting our tutors and life models! www.patreon.com/DrawBrighton
You will need:
Decide ahead what times you want to draw for. You may want to emulate a session of short (1-15 mins) poses, medium length (30mins -1 hour) poses. A 'mixed pose' session of 5 x 3 minute drawings, 2 x 20 minute drawings and 1x 45 minute drawing can be a great way to spend two hours. These step-by-steps are just a starting point you might want to try; there are many ways to draw figures! The reference was taken from Draw's £3 life drawing Patreon reference set.
1. Start with an overall 'action line' to indicate the pose.
2. Indicate major forms, working over the whole body.
3. Start to develop details; here I incorporate ideas about gesture and anatomy. Try to work from one side of the body to the other.
4. Keep adding detail until you run out of time – it's OK if you don't get everything, do your best!
1. As we have a little more time, block in large shapes and check proportion first. Look at the space the figure takes on the page and break it into measured sections.
2. Work out the contour lines; think about how they overlap and intersect. Contour is not just a single unbroken outline.
3. Here I am laying in shadow shapes. Try to keep these simple, and the edges soft.
4. In this final stage I build up detail – this may take almost half the drawing time. In this case, I am adding details like the features and wrapping lines
This is the third of our weekly 'Drawing From Home' blog posts, commissioned during coronavirus lockdown to help you draw more at home. Please do share your drawings with us, as we would love to see what everyone is up to by tagging us with @Draw_Brighton social media or by using the #DrawingFromHome #DrawBrighton hastags.