Awesome thread, and I learned a fair lot.
Originally Posted by Mitch Hedburg
Thank you so much for the great information!
I really needed this.
Will update sometime soon.
Here's something that might interest people - I was asked to do a 'portrait effect' of the british snooker referee Michaela Tabb. I could take a lot of liberties so it was not one of my 'straight portraits' and is therefore interesting in that it willfully departs from the reference yet has to be a reasonable likeness. I thus made the drawing you see from the shown reference photograph and then made the painting entirely from the drawings without once looking at the photograph at all, releying entirely on the information that was important in the drawings.
P.S. Emily, if you do not wish people to put their own examples in this thread then please feel free to delete it, I quite understand.
From Gegarin's point of view
Emily G, thanks for this thread! I'm constantly surprised at how many young artists seem to think that reference is some evil crutch that "real artists" don't need. The truth is not only is it ok, it's a damn good idea, and if you aren't using reference you are doing yourself a major disservice!
1. Frazetta's stuff, while superb in its own right, is nowhere near as specific as Rockwell's. Superhero comic work is even less so. Fraz also used reference when he needed it. Alot of environmental concept art is realistic in general effect, but compared to a well researched landscape by the Hudson River painters it lacks in truthful information and subtlety of effect.
2. Unless a person has photographic memory of the highest order, it would be impossible for their work to match the work of a pro who renders realistically using models, props or photographs. Try doing a Dru Struzan-like poster without reference of the actors...
3. Yeah, maybe Michelangelo was knowledgable enough to draw the figure as well as he could from imagination, but at the expense of other subjects. He worked pretty much exclusively with the figure all the time, in 2D and 3D. Artists are not Batman where they can have absolute mastery of 10 different disciplines at a writer's whim.
4. The final result is what matters. Master artists have used models, photography, copying other art, camera obscura, projection, figurines, sculptures, mannikins,etc. to attain the quality of work they were looking for.
This is a great thread with a lot of usefull information. The Rockwell stuff was especially enjoyable. Photo refernces have been used for years, even the master used camera obscuras to help them get the details right. When all art is comprised of copying images either fromthe imagination or form life is there really a need to argue of the level of copying? Besides, I think it was Picasso who said that "Amatures Create, Professionals Copy" lol Of course that may be slightly out of context but you get the idea... : )
Whenever we witness something 'new', as we do in great paintings, however old they are, there is always a certain kind of awkwardness about them, or rather an ineloquence that is very difficult to put one's finger on - I guess it is that when we surprise ourselves we are in a similar state to the amature in that we are of neccessity on unfamiliar ground. Slickness is almost by definition, lack of surprise.
As a professional, I am always trying to find the amature in me or, to put it much more accurately, and to paraphrase Isaac Newton (har har), trying to stand the amature on top of the professional's shoulders.
From Gegarin's point of view
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