Many photo reference websites have been made available on the internet for fine artists and illustrators. These are valuable as drawing aids and visual reference tools, especially for those who need assistance with drawing anatomy, the face, eyes, and more. Some image reference websites even contain royalty free stock images.
Photo Reference Websites List 2012
- Artmorgue – Photo Reference Website
Artmorgue contains thousands of reference photographs for artists and illustrators. Images range from animals, the figure, nature, insects, reptiles, sea life, the elements, and more. Included is a full section on parts of the body, which may be appropriate for those who need help with figure drawing.
- Stock Xchng – Royalty Free Images
Stock Xchng contains over 100, 000 royalty free photographs, one of the largest sites of its kind. That means the images can be utilized for virtually anything, such as posting on websites, photo manipulation, and digital art.
StockXchange is handy for searching useful reference photographs for drawings and paintings, without worrying about breaking copyright laws. Some photo owners do have usage restrictions, such as a credit link, and these are stated clearly at the bottom of each photo.
- Morguefile – Royalty Free Photos
Morguefile is another royalty free photo site very similar to StockXchng, and can be a valuable reference resource for digital artists, painters, illustrators, and more. Search for free photos by entering a keyword inside the search bar. Ensure Morguefile is selected instead of Dreamstime, as this is a paid service. Please pay attention to the terms below each image before downloading.
- Fineart.sk – Figure and Anatomy Books
Fineart.sk includes a few figure and anatomy drawing books, along with a full section of Andrew Loomis books. (Creative Illustration, Drawing the Head and Hands, Successful Drawing, and Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth)
Pages from the anatomy and figure drawing books are listed individually. Click on any one to enlarge it.
The images are only meant as a visual reference guide for artists, and not to be copied or manipulated.
- Flickr Creative Commons – Derivative Works
Photos made available at Flickr through a creative commons license may be utilized by artists depending on the license type. Fine artists may use all license types besides the no derivatives, but each category has it’s own special circumstances.
Please consult the image on the right for more information.
- Google Image Search
Probably the best resource for finding reference photographs is Google Image Search.
Images may be searched for on the web, but if you plan on directly using these outside of reference, please contact the owner for permissions. In many cases, the real owner may be very difficult to track. But, you can of course use the Google Image Search method to find stolen art in order to find the original copyright holder.
Do you know of any other beneficial photo reference tools for artists? Please let us know!