Thoughtful Dinosaur is a comic I’m making for newsletter subscribers and patrons on Patreon (until I can collect all the strips into one book). It’s the story of a young dinosaur fresh out of college and learning how to be an adult.
It draws a lot from my own personal experiences, and as such, I include lots of references from my early post-college days. This includes locations like a downtown park in Sandusky, OH, shots of malls from Arizona, and other locales I have photos of.
However, I don’t directly copy from photographs. That’s not the point of reference photos.
Reference photos (at least, how I use them) are more for nailing down the layout of a location. For example, in the Thoughtful Dinosaur panel above, I used the reference images and my memory to lay out where the trees and the walking path were laid out. The lighting scheme in the comic panel was drawn mostly from memory – I have a vivid memory of one morning walk I had, in which the sun was just emerging from cumulonimbus clouds in such a way that it was gold and warm. I wanted to capture that feeling with the colors in this panel.
Sometimes I’ll use reference photos for colors and lights. I didn’t do that so much with this panel, but sometimes, if I want to illustrate how light refracts off a surface (like, say, sunsets), I’ll use photo references.
I hope this gives you some new ideas for your own creative endeavors. Thank you for reading!
You. Are. Awesome.
2 Replies to “How I Use Reference Images in Thoughtful Dinosaur”
Love this insight into how you work. I figure a number of artists do so as well, I’m not an artist so I don’t really know.
I know a lot of anime use real world places for references. In K-On the school is modeled upon a real school including the stairs with brass animal statues on the rails. In the first season of Gunslinger Girl the artists went to Italy and traveled all over the place so they’d be able to depict real locations in the show which really is pretty awesome.
That’s so cool! I love when artists use references to draw the locales they go to and incorporate those locales into their stories. I’m actually taking lots of photos of Wheeling, WV because it’s the location for The Case of the Wendigo.