Why Do Artists Use Reference Photo For Their Painting?

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Why Do Artists Use Reference Photo For Their Painting?

A lot many artists use reference photo for their future painting. It is convenient, easy and helps you understand which colour combinations to use while doing the painting and what elements to focus on. It is an important tool to doing a painting when you cannot do a live painting. There could be various reasons and stance why you decide to choose a particular picture as your reference photo for your painting. While some artists swear by reference photos and feel it is the only way to do a painting right, others feel it is not the right way to commit to an art. The latter also feel that using a reference photo for your painting could weaken your skill set as an artist, which is why they always opt for live paintings. The weak end to using models for live paintings is that not all models would be feeling to sit for long hours with you especially when you choose to do one in a remote country or some countryside area. They might not be as excited as you are about your painting as well! This is why reference photos help for a painting especially when you are traveling. All you need to do is pack your camera with you and your painting kit and you are good to go. Also, do you know you can convert your photo to painting instantly using services like Instapainting, who offers much easier way to do so.

When you choose a reference photo, you need to keep a couple of things in mind:

  • See the strength in the picture – what are the focal elements in the picture, and how crowded are these elements in the picture. Your painting should not look too crowded, overemphasising on the elements in the foreground.

  • Avoid a photo that has a dull background – you would not want to paint a garbage bin in your background or a garage. It could make the painting look dull. Go for a brighter background or a subtle one that complements the bright colours in the foreground.

  • Don’t hold a preconceived notion about how you want the colours to be in the photo or else you will be really rigid with the colours you choose in the painting and the results might not be satisfactory.

  • Decide on how you would want the painting to be. It is not necessary to include everything from the reference photo in the painting. If you see that an object or element in the picture would not look nice when you use your brushes for it, don’t go ahead in including it in your painting.

  • You should know that the reference photo will have a lot many limitations to it such as colour temperature or blurred elements that cannot be replicated in a painting. So you have to use your creative imagination to see how you can make up for it in your painting.

  • The reference photo might be too bright or dark and you might want to paint it vice versa so it is okay if you make those changes in the painting.

Once you are sorted in your head on how you want to replace the reference photo in the painting, only then would the reference photo be a productive and useful tool for you in making your painting.

When it comes to doing a landscape painting through a reference photo, you have to use your creative imagination in captivating the beauty of elements such as mountains or river. The range in a particular mountain could be very huge and vast in their size. The size of a certain element in the reference photo will be different in the painting and that should not be matter of concern for you. The difference in shapes, sizes and texture will be inevitable. What needs to be important that you capture the essence of the photo in your artwork. Your painting need not be an exact replica of your photograph but that is normal.

You might want to take multiple shots of a particular image before you confirm on the particular one. Try capturing the varying ranges in textures, shapes and colour value but also ensure that the reference photo maintains a good balance between the dark and light values of the elements in it. There should be a balanced level of colour harmony for the painting to look satisfactory. Imagine if you are capturing a barren land, the angle and light value will have a great impact on the painting even if the picture is all about reds and greens. If you get the techniques right, the compositions in your painting will be fulfilling. Your painting should be engaging no matter what you paint on the canvas. It is for these reasons that a lot many artists use reference photo for their paintings.

Prateek Kulhari

Prateek is a business editor who writes about various topics such as technology, health and finance. At Pressly, he works along with the colourful folks that build a nation through tech startups. He is also a professional football player and video games enthusiast.