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Picture Files and Reference July 3, 2008

Posted by leskanturek in Handout Sheets, Picture files and Reference.
Norman Rockwell\'s photo reference for a painting

Norman Rockwell\

Always start an illustration with as much information as you can possibly get. Notice I’m saying information and not simply reference material. It’s your job….it’s what makes an art director choose you over another illustrator/artist, your expertise. Information is what allows you to collaborate with an author and art director and not simply act as a pair of hands. Have integrity in your work, go the extra mile. Research your subject.

• Viewers out there know when something doesn’t look right, be it anatomy or something technical.
• Looking up scrap helps you generate ideas/concepts.
• Serendipity: you never know what you might find by accident. Sometimes under the same letter heading in a picture file (like “T”) you find your concept. While looking for photos of tanks I passed toys. That gave me an idea for an image. The same thing occurs when you surf the web, some odd things come up that you might never have occurred to you

Here are some resources:

Library Picture Files
PSD /Gimbel Library (Of course)
The Mid-Manhattan (NY Public) Library Picture Collection

Many local libraries have good picture collections(when artists die , many leave their collections to local libraries)
The Queens Borough Public Library in Jamaica Queens has an excellent picture collection

Children’s books
This is a fantastic resource for reference! :ot’s of photos and illustrations. Grouped by subject. Ie: What a fireman does, how cars are made etc.


Sears / JC Penny, IKEA, pottery barn Etc. All catalogs that have general household items in them. And already grouped too. Specialty catalogs: Science equipment, fishing, police uniforms

Stock photos
Photo houses are also a source for royalty free photos for use and reference. Be careful!,there is a very real copyright attached to the images.

Your Client
Ask your client for the reference you need for the job. (They will not do your work for you . Research is your department). Ask particularly if the subject is obscure or technical and your client is a repository of photos and images. Newspapers traditionally have their own Morgue that you might be able to use.

Reference books
Like the illustrators Reference manual of Hands and Faces, or the visual dictionary.

How Too Books
Time life etc. fixing your home , etc.

Keep your Own Picture files
• Spend less time running around town, when you should be drawing.
• Convenient even at 1:00 AM
• You know what you like to draw or have trouble drawing.
• Shoot your own photos, get friends to pose, you should know how to handle a camera anyway to shoot your own artwork and scrap) .
• Suggestions about groupings, follow the model of the Public Library, Occupations: Fireman, nurse etc., Men: Standing, sitting, young old etc.

What does Iron Man and this toaster have in common?

What does Iron Man and this toaster have in common?

When you use reference use it creatively. Can studying an old car’s chrome bumper help you draw Iron Man?  Would looking at the segmented armor of a pangolin (look it up) help?

The Internet
As you all should know, an amazing source of imagery
• Use a general search, Google, Yahoo. Click on images as a view option.
• There are a lot of Stock photo sites you can browse for free. again There is a very real copyright attached to the images. That’s how these agencies make their income. This is for reference only!
• Government sites have in many cases copyright free images and Hi-res that you can use. The Library of Congress, NASA to name a few.

Beware copyright infringement, just because it’s on the web does not make it free, or mean it can be used without permission. .

Free (or Low Cost) Image Resources

NASA Image Exchange
Typically, NASA information is considered public domain, however for a full understanding of NASA guidelines for use of images, see:

NOAA Photo Library
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

U.S. Department of Defense

U.S. Navy

National Library of Medicine

The Library of Congress



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