Damn Nature U Trippy of the Day: Animated map here. Disclaimer: not a recommended resource for adventure, including sailing, small plane flights, or fighting fires.
So I just read a really long post by 3liza (linked above) about using photo references, grids, and other methods of “cheating” at art, and it pretty much sums up my feels about the whole deal!!
I once had someone in a livestream thank me for drawing out my perspective by hand rather than making a model in sketchup to draw over. Because that was cheating. That’s an incredibly silly thought to me— no offense to the original commenter— because it implies that doing something the hard way is inherently better than using the tools that are at one’s disposal to do it quickly and efficiently. That’s a pretty detrimental idea when you’re like me and have to produce a finished, full-color comic page every week like clockwork; doing everything “by hand” inevitably means sacrificing the quality of the finished piece while adding hours of work into my week. Shortcuts and “tricks” become necessities, both for ensuring quality but also preserving my sanity.
Don’t get me wrong, though— references should not be treated as a substitute for actual knowledge. Tracing photos of people does not make you good at drawing anatomy, and there’s nothing that will substitute for a real, honest-to-god understanding of light and perspective. But there is nothing wrong with using the tools afforded to us by photo references. Shaming artists for working smart and efficiently is the same attitude that, at my high school, made peoples’ faces fall and their eyes roll when they find out that I “drew that on the computer” when showing them my work. They think that using the tools at my disposal to create something of quality automatically invalidates my work.
Post secret: Almost every instance of Carter’s car in Chaos is traced from reference photos I’ve taken of the model car that I own. That’s part of the reason I picked that car for carter— I am bad at drawing cars, and having a reference was a necessity. If I had to freehand that stupid curvaceous beetle every single time I drew it I would hate myself for not giving him a station wagon or a scion which I could just draw with big, easy boxes. It would have added hours to my workload and lowered the quality of my pages.
And oh, hey, would you look at that, from drawing the stupid thing a hundred times over references, I now understand the forms well enough that I can freehand it sometimes, for background shots that don’t require a lot of detail or intense perspective.
One thing making comics has taught me is that you certainly do need to work smarter rather than harder in order to get results you can be proud of. There’s not much sense in intentionally making your own workload greater just because you feel a sense of moral superiority by not using references.
a cool response to one of my posts about “cheating”