It must have happened to you. Everything is ready to go and you are wondering where you saved your reference. You’re browsing through all the random folders you’ve ever created. Where did I save it? I may have spotted it on Instagram or Pinterest… No trace of the picture. After half an hour you give up and start googling a similar reference and because of this, you will spend additional hours of work.
Even the works of successful artists begin with the search for references. That’s why we approached 7 top artists and asked them if they work with references and how to effectively organize an extensive reference library. Here are their interesting answers. We believe they will help you become more efficient in your creative work.
How important is working with references for you? Do you have any tips on how to effectively organize an extensive reference library?
Gathering references is the most important and crucial step before starting any project. And it’s not just about collecting references, it’s actually analyzing the subject and pre-plan accordingly. If it’s a quick project, I just include them in a folder and just work with it. If it’s a big project that requires organization, I use Pureref.Vimal Kerketta
Of course, it’s very important. I have reference folders of both drawings and photographs. Sometimes I have a hard time organizing because now there are an incredible amount of resources. For this reason, I create a separate reference folder for each work. I try to use any references I can find pictures, drawings, 3D scans etc.Niyazi Selimoglu
I think that references are very important for artists. For work, I mainly use 3D.sk network references as they have the largest database worldwide, are very affordable, and have high-quality references. For inspiration, I am using Artstation. Lastly, to build photorealistic renders, I mainly hone my skills by taking more photos and comparing them with my renders to make them as realistic as possible.Roland Friedrich
When you are doing something new references are very important, the more confident you are at a task the less use of a reference is needed. For complex things like a human, references can help a great deal. I have not done many digital human artworks without references. I guess the best way to organize is to create folders, my own reference library is just a ton of random things saved in one place though.Johan Vikstrom
Reference is super important. As I am mostly doing realistic stuff, I have to know how things look from every aspect. I usually create an extra ’ref’ folder in the Maya project folder, then I put all images in it. Also, I categorize reference images in subfolders, so I can grab the images I need very quickly and then stick them in PureRef.Yingkang Luo
I firmly believe you are only as good as your reference and I go to extremes to get the best I can. 3D.sk is invaluable for scan and photo reference. I also have an extensive book library so I actually study the physiology of animals and models.Eric Keller
I have a big library of images when I work on a gig and organize simple folders and themes. I love to look at books when I’m not working to extend my mental library.Martin Verhoeven
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