Artist Tip #1 References
One of the most common questions with beginning artists is "How do I get better?" The obvious answer to that is draw more. While that is good sound advice there is one that is just as equally important and that is using reference material.
Why is reference material important? For beginning artists when you fall back to the advice of drawing more you're gonna need something to draw. The reference material will give you inspiration. It will give you something to draw and will also help you to work out form.
Using reference material is not only used by amateur artists but also by industry vets. Being an artist means you may need to draw almost anything, people, animals, cars, etc. No matter how long you've been drawing you will never know how to draw everything so you're going to need something to fall back on. It will help you lend a bit of realism to your work.
As an example let's say you are working on a piece in the African Sahara and you put in an elephant in your piece. Reference material will help you work on the curvature and how the sin folds on the elephant. But you know how to draw elephants? Are you using the right one to make sure you put in an African elephant and not an Asian elephant? This is where reference material can help.
Building a reference library doesn't take a lot of time and can be fun and help you think about things you didn't think of before. Here I will walk you through the basics of building a library and organization. Organization to your library is very important so you can find that reference you need when you need it.
Step 1: On your computer create a fold that called Reference. Simple enough and you're already on your way.
Step 2: There are many ways you to start here. Create some folders and label them. In my example I've created 4 folders; animals, buildings, people, and plants. These are some very basic folders and once that are very encompassing. If you find out you need a reference that doesn't fall into one of these categories then you can always go back at any time to add more.
Step 3: Choose a folder and start filling it up with more folders. Here I've jumped into my "Animals" folder and started adding folders that come to mind. Again, you can still be fairly broad here such as I have done but it's your library so be as broad and precise as you need to be. I've kept mine broad because that's how I choose to work.
Step 4: I'm going to jump into my "Mammals" folder and here is where I will get to be more specific and throw out different kinds of animals like Dog, Cat, Tiger, etc. As my needs change, again, I can always add more. These folders can be really fleshed out with lots more folders so thankfully computers will keep this alphabetized. So go crazy and add as many as you want and or need to.
Step 5: Step 5 is the most fun because now we get to add in pictures. Google is a great resource here because you can just search save photos for your library. When you add your photos pay careful attention to the name of the file. It will be best to rename them to keep them organized. The best way to name them is to describe the picture as briefly as you can, generally in a word or less. In my example we already know I'm in my elephant folder but you can see how I've broken down the names such as "Adult Tusked" or "Baby Cute." You will also notice I have various examples of different elephant skins. These are textures which we will talk about at a later time.
That's it! By following this model you will have a reference library in no time. Your library can include anything you want it to include, be it animals, people, or even styles. The key is building reference material you can use.