Where to Get Good Reference Images for Modeling and Sculpting?

Hello everyone,

So I was curious, what do you guys do about reference images for modeling and sculpting (mainly subD modeling). How many of you actually depend on a solid set of reference images for modeling? For myself, I find that I have a very difficult time actually creating accurate shapes and forms when modeling animals, creatures or characters. Mainly organic models. When it comes to hard surface stuff, it is easier to achieve the shapes you want without reference images, but I still find that I need them if I want to create something that is accurate and high quality.

The problem is, finding good reference images can be really difficult. Most of the modeling I do is organic. I model animals mostly. Best case scenario, I’ll have a side view that depicts the silhouette of the animal, and a front view as well so I can make the proportions correct. However finding the perfect side and front view online is not easy. Usually you can get somewhat close but then you have to sort of take your best guess on forming unknown proportions. What I usually to do fill the gaps is reference some anatomy books I have. That usually works.

So now I actually draw my own reference images using real life reference, whether that be from photos taken at a Zoo, Images and videos online, and anatomy books to fill in the gaps and enhance the form. I’ll then scan those images into my computer for modeling in Maya.

However, do you guys know of any websites or places on the web that might already provide this sort of thing? Preparing your own reference images is time consuming. Usually I want to hit the ground running and start modeling right away.

Re: Where to Get Good Reference Images for Modeling and Sculpting?

I'm not an expert in modelling, still learning my way however my game requires me to get lots of models... perhaps they are specific so it's easier to find reference images:
- for sculpting - animals, environment, I go for regular stock photos some of them being free i.e. pixabay, unsplash, etc
- for characters ref imagery I go for pinterest and then from there I try to find similar images, also I dive into old books (historical books - online libraries)
- additionally for some I've done some research and bought some books for clothing side of thintgs, architecture (it was a bit tricky as I had specific req)
Like I said in my case it's a bit specific as I my game is set in circa XVII century, but for general inspiration stocks, books, libraries should work too - often they free of charge (this is my main source for references)
In terms of organic muscles, structure - still I'm not expert but using found imagery of course if not copyrighted for reference. Not sure it helps, but I guess inspiration / reference images requires an individual approach, sort of trial an error and seeing what works for you. Maybe others could help a bit more :)

Re: Where to Get Good Reference Images for Modeling and Sculpting?

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Re: Where to Get Good Reference Images for Modeling and Sculpting?

Getting a good reference images for Modelling and Sculpting can be a pain.
I find just doing a google search and most of the time you will find the images you need but even books can also help massively as they have old pictures with different angles also extra info that you didn't see on the web that could help later on.

Another reference can be paintings and if its done by a good artist then you can use that as a reference. But even going to museums can be of use as you can get multiple objects, scales and other info that could help in the future.
I know from experience that working on modelling can be some what easier to find stuff on history then with sci-fi.
sci-fi can be hard as the model your trying to create is not out as its a new idea or its a merge of several ideas all blended together. there for your only option is to do what i call picture bash where you find multiple pictures/images that you like then blend them together. If your good at drawing then you can sketch it but then its down to you how much detail you add to it, as you will most likely stop and dive into modelling and make it.

One big tip is to save the reference art as it will come in handy later.
1) If working with other team members you can show them and explain.
2) its always there.
3) You can always return back on an idea as you turned to like that one instead. ( not wasting time or cant remember what the idea was and how you got there)
4) could come handy another time to design or make something different.

Re: Where to Get Good Reference Images for Modeling and Sculpting?

Thanks for the tips everyone! Yea you know what, I have discovered somewhat recently that going to art museums and taking pictures of the paintings can actually be very helpful. While they don't provided exact dimensions of what it is you are trying to model or sculpt, they certainly do provide insight on detail, color and lighting. This is especially true of landscape paintings. There are a lot of great paintings out there of beautiful landscapes. If you get enough pictures of them, you can build up a nice reference library for making landscapes. I especially like the idea of picture bashing. I only just started learning how to do this, and I never thought to use it for creating reference images. Nice tip!

It seems to me, that staying in touch with classical art is important if you want to be able to create impressive digital art. Especially as technology and hardware limitations continue to increase, you are seeing better looking art all the time. But you still need to stay in touch with classical art. I think it's very important for the modern digital artist.

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