View Full Version : Using reference

10-27-2007, 04:42 PM
Hey, I posted this on the sketches thread but it seems like no one goes on there very frequently so I will ask here. I am completely new to matte painting, I've never done one before though I have been admiring peoples work on forums for about a year now. The sketches thread has convinced me to at least start doing some paintings.

I have several photos I'd like to practice painting from but I do not know how to set up my reference. How do you set up your reference so you can see it and what your painting at the same time? Do you just print it out and look at it that way or put it to the side of the screen and try to paint a little bit at a time? Or do I need to buy a 2nd computer screen? I have never done this before so all help is great! Thanks in advance.

10-27-2007, 06:01 PM
You certainly don't need a second computer. I normally just have it open as a jpeg and flick back to it when I need to refresh my minds eye. The thing is to try not to become too much of a slave to your reference. Dont colour pick from your reference, try and pick the colours yourself to develop your artistic eye. Of course, you could always print it out too if you prefer to have it next to you.
Just feel free to deviate from your reference if you want to try different looks / different moods etc, coz that way you will develop your skills more.


11-05-2007, 04:48 AM
I also use a dual monitor setup for multitasking sometimes, Id have the painting on the left and the reference on the right. This is fairly easy with most modern video cards.

11-06-2007, 10:43 AM
another way is to set the reference in the background... Most 3d apps let you have a reference photo in the background... If you are just working in 2d/photoshop, set the reference as your bottom and topmost layer, and slide the transparency on it to zero when you don't want to see it, and to 50% or so when you want to look at both it and the layer you are working on. Good to have it as both the upper and lower layers so you can use lower one as a basic starting point and guide, and the upper one as a sort of before and after thing by sliding layer transparency back and forth.

Also, you can cut and paste the reference in to a different file in Photoshop and use that as the base image that you then copy in to your background layer(s), copy in to new reference images by resizing it's image size, scaling it, distorting it by resizing without contraints, rotating, applying filters etc. I work with Phtotoshop 5 LE, so don't have the power of multiple undos. When you work like that you remember to save a lot as you make changes, and you remember to think about the steps you take and how to go backwards without an undo. Using a second file as the base file and then copying it and playing with filters or whatever in the copies is the way to go... and if you like the results and want the results as a new reference, you can just put it in a new layer on the top of the stack, etc.