References for 3d artists

Seeking for better renders.
6 Apr 2016


In this post I’d like to mention how important it is to look at references when aiming for good renders. If we want to cause empathy with our artworks, be it a monster, zombie, orc or human, we need it to have a taste of reality embed into the character. Avoiding that will cause the observer to quickly loose interest and turn his attention to something else.

This remains truth for every stage: modeling, texturing, lighting, surfacing, and so on…always good to go for specific references before starting any 3d work, so that you don’t get suddenly lost in the middle production process.

Believing we’ll remember every small aspect of the subject we are trying to depict is a mind trick that affects all artists. At the start of a new project you are fully convinced that the minor details, forms and shapes will pop out easily from your brain any time you need it…wrong. This will surprise you at the end, when you look at your render and ask yourself why it does not as good as you tought it would be. Maybe whats is missing is simple: OBSERVATION!

I commonly see instructors reviewing student work at the small detail level. Many would think this is only perfectionism, but the true exceptional results always come from these intricate details and nuances. The skill to have an eye for small details is built over years of unceasing observation of our surroundings.

I’ve had a chance to meet some great artists on the last years, and even these senior artists make constant use of references for their work. That’s why I can’t stress enough how important it is to always look for reality and observe before starting a new project. Remember to collect photo references, and check them often during the entire production process, don’t let your mind trick you, stay firm on the observation exercise for assertive results!

While on the subject, here are two websites I find very interesting for character artists (modelers, texturing guys).

Daniel Boschung – Super Zoom Photography

Humanae – Pantone for the human skin


I hope you like it. Have other cool websites? Please share it on the comments!

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