Learn how to use references to create amazing drawings

In this article, we will talk about the references you have to learn to use, to create incredible drawings. There are not many, but all of them are extremely important, so don’t overlook any of them.

There will be times when you will have to create characters, for that you have to get organized and build a folder with references… Do you want to know more? Continue reading! and learn how to use references to create amazing drawings.

imagen que dice: aprende a usar las referencias para crear dibujos increibles

The use of references in art

References are those images that make our task easier when drawing about the subject we are dealing with. Poses, sceneries, precise objects, and anything else that is necessary to study, to be sincere, and well descriptive.

Although, in the case of comics or illustrations, we are always ready to create, not everything is stored in memory, and creativity is nothing without its sustenance in reinforcement images to go drawing.

So we emphasize the use of references as a primary task. They are always our base, and as the word indicates, they are not images that we must copy and follow strictly for our drawings, since, we can take the precise information that we need.

In this way we will use them partially, or adapt them to our way of drawing, stylizing them.

Important: The documentation, before and during the work

When we are elaborating a comic, and we already have our script at hand, before starting to draw, it is a good moment to build a good folder of references to be able to design our characters.

For that, we will have to rehearse their clothes, and think about their features, among other things, for which the references will be very useful.

We must review the script and see what elements are described, which we must know in detail in order to draw them, and then start looking for their images.

Certain spaces may be indicated, such as interiors, cities or landscapes, of which it will be necessary to have a good quantity of high quality images, and thus, to elaborate the vignettes.

referencias de paisaje y escenario

We will observe that, once we are working on the cartoon, it is probable that our stock of references will be insufficient. We will have to constantly resort to the search for new images that will help us in our task.

We must get used to, and be willing in this discipline, to always look for the necessary references.

When our comics deal with historical or realistic matters, and our readers are more demanding in this respect, we will resort more frequently to the use of references.

Although we will be required that our documentation be faithful and accurate, so we must take this task more seriously.

The quality of the references, learn how to use them to create incredible drawings.

This is a very important point, we need the quality of the images we use as references to be good.

What does this mean? That the image is sharp, with good definition, and has the appropriate size, to observe in detail, if necessary.

Although it may not seem like it, this is not such a simple, easy and quick task! Since, surely, we will find the necessary image quickly, through the Internet, but not of sufficient quality.

My recommendation when searching is to adjust the search filters in the navigation to find good quality images.

It may take much more time in this search, but, in the end, it will be better to spend more time looking for, than to struggle with a difficult image at the moment of drawing.

imagen de helicoptero: aprende a usar las referencias para crear dibujos increibles

Where do our reference images come from?

Tablero con materiales de estudio de dibujo, imagenes de referencia

Nowadays, it is indisputable that the Internet is our main source of images, for many reasons, and, in addition, we see many pages dedicated exclusively to the search of specific references.

Keep in mind that our ability to find the right images depends on the formula of words we use in our search engine. Therefore, we must study, test, and be precise when doing so.

While the Internet is the prevailing mode, there are others, perhaps less accessible, but useful. Either any graphic media, such as books, magazines, or catalogs, with which we can nourish ourselves, at the moment of having images at hand.

Another alternative, depending on the work we are doing, is to generate our own references through photography. This point is perhaps the most complex option, but as we pointed out, we must take into account the type of cartoon and the work we are doing.

Historical quotations, an inexhaustible source of resources

Reviewing the history of the visual arts, specifically painting, dominated attention for many years, through its images. These, provide us with numerous examples of successes, at the time of having them as references for our drawings.

The masterpieces of figurative painting often synthesize forceful and paradigmatic images. They have endured in our culture, and persevered, because of their quality and qualities.

imagen historica de referencia
The Hunters in the Snow, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, 1565.
foto historica de referencia
Dulle Griet, in Les Tours de Bois-Maury, by Hermann Hupper, 2006. Glénat

We can clearly say that, to make use of this great source, is by no means some kind of plagiarism, or disdainful activity.

The reference of these sources, depending on how we work it, can be used subtly, keeping discretion on the origin.

In many cases, these models function as quotations. When the image we use is very famous, has a great historical value, and, therefore, we wish to make reference, establishing a relationship with our adaptation.

el cine como fuente de inspiracion, aprende a usar las referencias para crear dibujos increibles
Lunch on the Grass, by Édouard Manet, 1863 / The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, by Gilbert Shelton, 1973. Gilbert Shelton / Rip off Press.

Cinema as a source of reference in art

One of the narrative arts, which can also provide us with very useful images for our drawings, are movie scenes. In many cases the cinema, has studied, worked, and achieved by means of its art, excellent images, without a doubt.

It is a question of navigating among the most outstanding titles and finding the sequences we are looking for as a reference.

That said, we open a range of possibilities, in which painting, or cinema, can contribute a lot. We must consider that all visual artistic disciplines can be useful to us, such as photography, illustration, sculpture or even comics.

In short, the more knowledge we have in this field, the more and better sources we will find.


We have left at your disposal, reference models that will be of great help to start using them in your artistic career. As we mentioned during the article there are different references, and also different sources where you will find them, I advise you to read the post again, it is very interesting, it will take you a few minutes and you will get valuable information!

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