if someone ever tells you that using references to draw is cheating
punch them in the face
take a picture while you do it
and use it as a reference when you recreate it in comic form
Okay fuck I replied to this already but those tags got under my skin a lot so I think I need to do a full reblog. >____>
People are saying “no reference used” most likely because when you use a ref, it’s good form to give credit to the ref. They’re letting you know that they’re not being bad members of society by using refs and not giving credit. They’re not asking for asspats.
And actually, it’s hard to admit you don’t use refs. Like admitting you don’t use a beta for your fanfics. It doesn’t make you a “better” writer. It makes people more likely to criticize you, because you’re not following the social rules.
I don’t use references most of the time. (I do use character refs when drawing fanart, like, a screencap or two so I remember what they look like or how their clothes are designed, because my memory’s not that good unless I’ve drawn a character like 300 times already. But I don’t copy the pose in the screencap.) Sometimes I do, if I feel like it, and I don’t have anything against it, and I don’t think it makes anyone less of an artist. It just isn’t how I have the most fun drawing. I use drawing to get inside my own head and use parts of myself I like using. I achieve that best when I don’t use pose refs.
I started drawing when I was a kid, and I didn’t have access to refs. Oh, once in a while I’d copy from underwear catalogs (bad idea, heavily photoshopped) or when we got a VCR, I’d tape things and pause the tape. Sometimes I copied other people’s drawings. But in general, I didn’t have a lot of resources. We didn’t have internet. We didn’t have books on art. Fuck, I was lucky to have paper, we were so poor. So that was just how I got used to drawing, how I came to like it. I wasn’t formally trained, and while I’ve heard some good art advice here and there that’s helped me improve, for the most part, I don’t draw like people who have had training.
(This is not bragging. OH HOW THIS IS SO NOT BRAGGING, considering all those people who have art training draw better than me!)
I could relearn how to draw. I could take art classes. I could take the advice I see on the internet, and be as good at drawing as those people. But you know…that’s taking away something from me that I have a very personal bond with, and turning it into a means of production. Maybe I’d make better art, yes, but doing it my way is the way that gives me joy. Whenever I try out the other ways, it honestly feels less fun. (If it doesn’t feel less fun, and if it works, I usually adopt it.) I’m not a professional artist, and I’m not trying to be. Being able to take that joy in the process is more important to me than the quality of the output. In fact, worrying about quality and putting too much into trying to make everything something I couldn’t possibly feel ashamed of is what caused me to go into an art slump the last few years. (Years of potential progress, wasted.) Every time I went to draw I felt overwhelmed by expectations. My expectations? Other people’s expectations? You know, I don’t even know. But it wasn’t fun anymore. It was just about producing an acceptable outcome.
And…okay, let’s be real here. Drawing the gesture yourself from scratch IS more creative. It’s not “better.” No one should be obligated to. And like, I myself have repeatedly railed against the notion that people are obligated to be more original, and that originality is superior or makes for better works. Fanworks are less original, they’re less creative, and I will stan them to my dying breath. But you are creating more content. You are generating a pose entirely from your mind. There’s no excuse for putting down other artists, but there’s also no shame in being proud of that. (Just like I am proud of my worldbuilding in my original fic, but that IN NO WAY invalidates fanfic.)
As an artist who has drawn with/without refs (including both pictures and live models) I can say there is a difference in what it feels like as the artist to draw it, and I enjoy being able to draw it without the ref. If other people don’t enjoy that feeling, that’s fine! Just like if other people don’t like to draw at all, that’s fine too! It doesn’t make me better than them! I really loathe vectoring, personally, but if someone else is good at it and enjoys it, dude, more power to them, and I’m not going to feel like they think they’re better than me just because they vector and are proud of that.
What this whole thing reminds me of is the debate over betaing in fanfiction. There’s heavy pressure to get a beta, and like, the kind of beta who will not just catch typos, but crit characterization, plot, etc. I tried that when I first started out in fandom, and you know what, I didn’t like it very much. This isn’t about my delicate artist fee-fees only wanting cockslurping praise. This is about just wanting to tell the story I want to tell, not someone else’s version of it. And yes, this is about me finding it more enjoyable to just skip to the praise for a hobby I do entirely for free in my spare time and post on the internet in the sincere hope that other people will enjoy it, rather than having to run through a gauntlet of intense scrutiny, anxiety, and criticism first. If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
People tell me betas will make my fiction better. That refs (and a number of other artistic techniques) will make my art better. They’re probably right about the former, and certainly right about the latter (I know this because my art IS better quality when I use refs).
But here’s the thing.
I DON’T OWE ANYONE ELSE QUALITY.
I am under no obligation whatsoever to sacrifice MY enjoyment so that the end result is objectively better. And constantly worrying about the quality of my art and fic is paralyzing to me. The only way I can work through that paralysis and produce anything at all is to reassure myself that it’s okay that it sucks, because I don’t owe it to anyone for it to not suck, that it’s not breach of contract if it sucks, the internet can’t sue me if it sucks, the worst they can do is keep scrolling until they find something that doesn’t suck and more power to them in that quest.
I don’t make the best works I could possibly make. I put the energy and the effort I have into them. I put the FUN I have into them. Constantly trying to make my best possible work is frankly exhausting.
Which isn’t saying that I don’t try to improve. Of course I like improving! But I do it on my terms. I don’t sacrifice anything I don’t want to sacrifice in the name of that improvement. I put my own enjoyment first, otherwise I’d have no motivation to do it at all. I do a lot to keep my writing and my art a safe space for me, including not taking requests or commissions, or trying to market them professionally. (In fact, one of my usual rules is to not post WIP fics, because the expectation of people waiting for updates can make me shut down. I broke that rule with A Fine Line because I knew it’d be Jossed before I finished it. But I have probably literally hundreds of unfinished fics languishing on my hard drive, because I don’t post WIPs.)
Not using refs is just one of the things I do to keep my own art, personally, low pressure and enjoyable for me. I honestly do not give a rat’s ass if other artists use refs or not. It has nothing to do with me.
….and now I’m looking at a WIP drawing of mine (it’s Mako/Tahno porn) that I used no refs for, and struggled with the pose considerably. (It was a fun struggle, but a struggle nonetheless.) The proportions came out kinda wonky, and I eventually just figured it was as good as it was getting, and started coloring because hey, the world’s getting free Tahko porn, who are they to complain if it looks a little funky?
But now with this rant I feel like it’s going to be judged. Because it WOULD have looked better if I’d used a ref. And everyone’s going to know it. And people are going to post it on art forums and be like, “Look at this stuck-up loser who thinks she doesn’t need refs, lolz look at me redlining it, this is why you need refs, kiddies.” (Is my art being used to shame other artists an absurd scenario? Probably! THIS IS JUST WHERE MY MIND GOES.) Or just like…quietly laugh at me while they think I think I’m better than them.
And now I don’t even want to finish it. :////
tl;dr: picking on people who don’t use refs like they’re doing something wrong and automatically stuck-up and need to be judged has made art unfriendly for me again and this is a constant battle for me anyway.
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