What is a reference image, you may ask? It is an image an artist uses to help him or her create something by making it similar, but not exact. For example, if you use a house photo as a reference image, you may draw some things the same, but maybe change the shape of a window, remove a decorative touch, or use a different color for the roof.
For me, when I want to draw a person whom I have a specific envision for, I refer to different pictures to create the subject. I may use one picture for the face shape, another for the eyes, nose, mouth, and so forth. And guess what? Referring to photos makes a big difference for the aesthetic of the drawing I make.
Below is a drawing I did of my book’s main character with hardly any reference material used.
I find this sketch to be very unattractive. Not because of the photo lighting quality or the pencil marks, but because the face doesn’t look appealing. Proportions are kind of off.
So, here is a revised sketch I did of this same character. That’s another tip: revise your drawings if you feel it’s necessary.
It’s a little better than the previous drawing. However, the eyes are too big, and when I tried to adjust them in Photoshop, it just made the girl uglier. And she’d supposed to be more beautiful to me.
So, here is the third revision for the image:
She is starting too look more attractive, but the forehead is a bit too big. Also, this looks like it was cut and pasted on a solid-colored background. Honestly, I think it appears amateurish.
Now onto the final and best portrayal of my protagonist.
This is where I got serious into using as much reference material as possible. Hardly any of the features drawn were from my imagination. Of course, I didn’t copy anyone or make the girl resemble any real person. But thanks to the different approach, this is the best drawing out of all four. It kind of reminds me of a “Charlie the Unicorn” style. You know—the YouTube series about a cranky unicorn who gets taunted by two hyper ones. All right, that may be beside the point.
Anyway, for those of you who draw, you may want to consider the advice of reference material and revising your drawings. Hope this helped.