I always use reference for my paintings. It's simply a matter of detail: there's too much stuff in this world to know about in detail, so I have to do a little visual research before I draw. Before the internet existed illustrators often kept "Morgue Files" or "Clipping Files" full of magazine photos. When an assignment came their way, they would go to their Morgue file and pull the appropriate images. Google image search and flickr have made the searching quite a bit easier, but the need is still exactly the same. In this video I'll explain how to create and manage a digital reference board - relying heavily on keyboard shortcuts. And if you like this video, please remember to click the "Like" button at the bottom of the post!  The only advertising for Ctrl+Paint is word of mouth, so I'm counting on you guys to spread the word.  Thanks!

Assignment: Create career-specific reference boards (Scuba diver, fire-fighter, etc.)

Things to consider: Well-lit photos, specific details

AuthorMatt Kohr
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If you're wokring to improve your painting, reference is a necessity.  The question is not "should I paint from reference?"  but rather "What reference makes most sense for this piece?"  This video looks for painting reference in an unusual area: visual effects test renders. 

If you're looking for the search terms mentioned in the video, here's a good starting point: Global Illumination (GI), Ambient Occlusion (AO), Caustics, Photons, VRay, Mental Ray, and Radiosity.  Search any of those along with "test render", and you'll have some fun reference materials. 

The anatomy reference was found at onlinelifedrawing.com

AuthorMatt Kohr
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Painting realistic texture can be a challenge. It's especially challenging when you're drawing objects or characters from your imagination. This exercise is designed to help you strengthen your mental texture library. The most important part of this exercise is the mental extrapolation. Often times painting from reference materials is a 1:1 copy, which doesn't force you to fully examine your subject. This exercise requires you to do more than copy, and strengthens your mental texture library in the process.