All About Drawing from Photos

Photo reference painting

Painting from photographs is, for many artists, a matter of convenience. Portrait painters, for instance, often go from photo to painting because it is not often possible to complete a commission working solely from life. Therefore, knowing how to use a photo reference and that there are certain limitations to that process is important for every practitioner to understand. Such issues include getting tunnel vision or adhering too closely to the photo so that end result looks stiff or unnatural, and losing the subtle play of light and shadow on a form or object.

How to draw a picture from a photo

Drawing from photos can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start. Learn the major shapes to follow and the lines that matter most by downloading our free guide to photo-referenced paintings.

Finding reference photos

using photo referenceIt’s a good idea to take reference photographs at different times of day and in different lighting when you’re dealing with still life or landscape subjects, unlike people or animals whom you have to pose. With different images you’ll be able to better gauge the way shadows wrap around particular shapes and the natural movement of wind if the scene is outdoors.

For inspiration, download art reference photo books from North Light Shop.


Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.