This is something I really struggle with (and one of the main reasons I started the Q&A.)

I never seem to get the dynamic of life drawing in sketches from imagination. The proportions just aren’t right. The linework isn’t as solid. The values aren’t as rich.

I suppose with more experience, a more comprehensive mental library, the gap between the two will hopefully reduce. But, I was really curious to see if the rest of the world faces this or even considers it at all when sitting down to work.I want you to draw me wearing this, wearing only this.

designxiety Hey! I usually reference if I want my work to look more realistic! If I’m just doodling I won’t.. But that’s usually when I come up with my best ideas 😁

hikatiepea Yup I do even if it’s not realistic! It helps to get a feel for the real thing even if I’m going to simplify it down a lot.

berfa Yup! I think of an idea, then look for reference! 🙂

carlosvisualdiary if I’m doing my sketchbook it’s all from real life. There is always that detail, shape, shadow, etc that give the drawing their character. You can fake it but you deep down you could dig deep. When doing conceptual pieces I sketch from my head but then the final needs references. For fashion a real life model is priceless.

When I asked for suggestions on finding models, he replied:

carlosvisualdiary I work at FIT so I have few models I can use but it’s hard to find girls or boys who can just project what you want and have fun posing.

mm.marconi Sure! As I am still not that good with imagination.

laurahickmanillustration I always do, I spent a great day in Paris taking reference photos as people walked by, so many stylish ladies & gents! I might mix up outfits/poses but always have some kind of reference.

jasminfuhrillustration I agree completely with @carlosvisualdiary . When I do my sketchbook work, that means urban sketching or people in the subway or a cafe i always try to sketch the whole thing on location. When I can’t finish the sketch I often take a picture to finish it at home, but it’s not the same. When I do commission work I flip through a lot of photos or illustrations for inspiration, then do the first sketches from my head and the final with references. I don’t think that’s bad, especially when you’re doing more “realistic” illustrations.


Artists and illustrators, do you draw from reference? Or, do you let your imagination run wild?