Need Drawing Ideas?

Create Your Own Photo Reference File

Do you need some drawing ideas? In my classes, we always use reference photos of some sort when drawing or painting. Because it's often difficult to put on paper the same picture you "see" in your mind, many professional artists and illustrators also use references when creating their work, even if their finished product isn’t an exact likeness.

So where do you find references? If you aren’t drawing from life (drawing while looking at the actual object, person, or place), you can use pictures found in books, magazines, or old calendars.

Start your own reference file. Cut out photos from magazines of people, animals, flowers, buildings, landscapes – anything and everything you may want to draw or paint sometime.

If you are looking for some free online photos for your reference file, be sure and check out Nature and Flower Pictures. You will find hundreds of beautiful pictures to choose from.

Also, visit for a colorful collection of flower pictures for inspiration as well as photography tips.

Another site with royalty-free images is These are uploaded by people around the world who want to share their photos with others.

To create a work of art that is completely your own, take your own photographs and paint from them. As your collection grows, separate your pictures into categories with file folders, such as "Mammals", "Birds", "Landscapes", "People", "Fish", etc. Store your folders in a filing box or drawer. The pictures will give you a big selection to choose from when you’re ready to create!

Need more ideas to get started? Check out our Drawing Step by Step page. New pictures will be added monthly.

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