Reference, reference and more reference



I didn't think it was possible ... yet there are people who consider the use of references a "thing not to do".

I'll explain.

It happens that when drawing it is necessary to seek help. The artist, even if they has very clear in mind how their work must appear when the result is finished; at some point during the manufacturing process they could find themself facing difficulties: they cannot get a correct perspective, something that does not fit in the anatomy of the subject, the detail of a mechanical object and so on.

What does they do at that point? They gets help from references.

For “Reference” - in the artistic field - we mean any image or tutorial that guides the artist towards the correct construction of an element. In recent years the number of these particular aids has increased, greatly simplifying the lives of artists.

There is talk of both groups of people who offer themselves as models for specific poses, both programmers who create rooms and objects with 3D or even experts who pool their knowledge to publish comprehensive collections. Even the great little artists often offer their contribution by providing indications on how they themselves manage to create certain effects.

In my opinion, it is all very beautiful and above all very useful.


Yet not everyone agrees.



I think part of this problem is that a lot of people tend to believe that “Reference” means copying / tracing.

There is nothing more wrong.

Tracing and copying are two completely different things ... and not even wrong, if used in the right way. We specify that they should not be taken literally, but from a technical point of view.


Let's analyze the two words:




l   Make a copy of a writing using a mechanical process, or of a drawing by tracing it. Reproduce a work of art or other model; also, portray from life.


l  Imitate, reproduce an image, spec. a work of art: painters often copy famous paintings; from life, to draw or paint reproducing real objects.




l  Of drawings and writings, copy them by making a cast or using carbon paper: a. a geometric design, a geographical map; r. a writing, a signature. In the sense of fig., With reference to writings, poems, speeches, etc., faithfully follow an example: in his novel he traced the plot of the "Malavoglia" .


l   Reproduce a design by tracing its contours..



As you have read, the two words are not necessarily linked to a negative definition. From a positive point of view, they are great ways to simplify and improve a drawing. I mean, how many times did our art teachers tell us to copy from life to get good at drawing? In fact, it is only by copying reality that you can then shape something completely different and new with your own strength.

Even the tracing, in its small way; can come in handy. Especially in the small details, elements that we need to quickly insert into the work when we cannot or do not have the possibility to work on them with patience.

Obviously not everyone takes the good of these words.

It copies and traces itself above all to “steal” from others, passing them off as one's own. Maybe these thieves thought I could assimilate the skills of the artists and get their fame as well, who knows? They certainly prove to be stupid and mean.


Doing so does not improve and grow, you just become cheaters.


And the Reference?

The main concern that occurs with this tool (apart from the fact that you consider it as a copy / tracing) is that you become too dependent on it: in a nutshell by continuing to use them, afterwards you are not able to work alone with your own skills.

I don't know how many people think so, but I disagree.

I - and many other people like me - have a hard time drawing specific things and unfortunately I almost always need to seek help. It is not a question of laziness or anything else, I simply cannot assimilate that information for long, also because my memory is not exactly good. One day it can be a character sitting, another time the exact shade of the sky at sunset ... and so on, it changes according to the difficulty of the job. Sometimes I also need to search for elements that I have already "specialized" in.

Whoever manages to work without help is good for them, I would like to be like that too.

But as far as I'm concerned, asking for help is never wrong.



Ultimately, the Reference is this: it's the guide some of us need to become good artists.


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