Wouldn't it be using multiple references in the 50% rule also a study?

12:36 AM, Thursday March 31st 2022

So for some context, in lesson 0, 50% rule FAQ, one of the questions regards wether or not you should be using references during your "play" time in the 50% rule, as to which it says both yes and no.

I understand that you shouldn't use a reference only to help you avoid drawing something poorly, or that it shouldn't be used only to copy the object exactly as it is (because that would fall with the other 50% time of "studying", as it is an observation study).

I understand all of that until the part where it says that we need to use references only to "fill in the gaps", i quote


You need to make the decisions yourself, and merely use reference to fill in the gaps. For example, you may decide to draw a character astride a tiger, charging through a bazaar. Good luck finding a photo of exactly that to paint from. Instead, you’d find a picture of a tiger running, a person riding a horse, and multiple shots of market stalls, taking parts from each of them and incorporating them into your work.

I understand that using a reference should not be the entirety of our drawing (at least within the 50% "play" time), but isn't "taking parts" from each reference also a study?, I mean afterall, wether or not you create something new, you would still be copying from all those "parts".

I mean, let's use the example of the page:

  • A picture of a tiger running, a person riding a horse, and multiple shots of market stalls, all of that to create " a character astride a tiger, charging through a bazaar"

I mean sure, you are creating something completely different and new, but you would still be exactly copying those references, sure you can erase or ignore the elements in the reference that you don't need, like the horse in this example, but you would still be copying the parts that you are interested in, essencially making it no different from just using a single reference because you would still be doing an observation study.

So with that in mind, how can someone "take parts" from multiple references, without making it a study? because that (to me of course) feels like the perfect excuse to stop "playing" and rather just going back to the old mentality of relying on references to avoid drawing something poorly.

I have used my 50% "play" time, only to draw from imagination, but whenever i want to draw something using references, i always wonder about this, and how could i use references without making it a study or an excuse to going back to being afraid of drawing things poorly.

Because yeah, i can be 100% sure that i don't want the reference only because im afraid of doing it poorly, but who knows, maybe deep down my subconscious will use the reference for exacly that.

TL;DR: Wouldn't it be taking "parts" from multiple references still a study or an excuse to avoid drawing something badly? afterall wether or not you draw something completely new from the use of those references, you would still essencially be copying from them, making you rely more on reference, slowly going back to the mentality of using references to avoid drawing something poorly.

Making me question how can i use references without making it a study or an excuse to go back to the old mentality?

For background, i have been drawing only with my imagination, no prior knowledge about drawing.

6 users agree
1:48 PM, Thursday March 31st 2022

The distinction between the two comes down to what's making the major decisions of the piece. When we simply copy a single reference image, it's making all of the decisions. We'd do this to learn from the image (because in doing a direct copy we're not exactly making something new), and it's very useful for that purpose, but as such it falls within the learning half of the 50% rule.

The use of different reference images, especially in the manner I demonstrated in my tiger/market example, uses those reference images as tools. We decide what we intend for the final drawing, not the images we use as reference. We decide what it is we need, then go looking for the best suitable reference image that meets those needs. We may not find a perfect one, but as we're looking for reference as a source of information and not a direct source for the entire image we're looking to produce, we can work with what we fine.

The fact that we are making the decisions and not abdicating rhat responsibility, is what makes the result an illustration and not a study, and is what makes it valid for the 50% rule.

0 users agree
5:02 PM, Saturday April 2nd 2022
edited at 5:03 PM, Apr 2nd 2022

When using a reference you can end up overcorrecting every detail while you are working, which will make your final piece very messy and unfocused.

edited at 5:03 PM, Apr 2nd 2022
0 users agree
2:52 PM, Friday April 1st 2022

I cannot claim extreme competency in this area, but here is my interpretation and perhaps "summary" of what Uncomfortable just stated:

I see it in this way: are you using the images to make an exact copy of each part of your picture? If so that seems like a glorified version of clip art or scrap booking to me; a version of direct copying. Thus you would find a pose of a lion and copy it exactly, and then beside him the running man, that you copied exactly, to the market, equally copied. (Ironically, concept art kind of follows these procedures...Copy a drawing and paste it into a scene and move it about)

However, if you use a reference picture to gain the "general idea" of something, and then use that to inform your imagination without a great detailed study, I do not see the issue. Another way to put it, use reference pictures as rather "inspirational" pictures: Pictures that jog an idea, which is a sort of informing, but after that it is put aside. The rest is imagination after this point.

Lengthy example:

If you want to draw a lion, but you have no clue what they look like, there is no problem taking a peek at the basic lion features, just enough cultivate your idea to put something on paper (good, bad, or otherwise). After that, put away the pictures and do not refer to them again,using your new found lion knowledge to create your picture. In the same vein can look at the market buildings to inspire your own market's architectural design. Maybe the running man pose is perfect, save for the fact that he is a skinny office worker, but you want a burly barbarian with long golden locks? The running office worker will be suitable for that pose, but the rest will be your imagination. You may have to look up young Arnie for some Mr. Universe muscle action.

Hopefully this helps as well.

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