Question for artist about using reference material when modeling humanoid.

My quest is, do you use references when modeling humanoid's, or do you just have it memorized? I think the most accurate would be to use both.

I am looking for a short cut in my education by only using references of human anatomy rather than taking the time and remembering the muscles.

If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.

I seriously doubt any professional works without reference. We work on computers. With the internet. Why would you intentionally handicap yourself?

Check out Ten24 for scanned human models as reference or base models. Caveat is that if you are designing a stylized character from imagination, you need to know enough about anatomy to make it look right.


I just remembered that Walt Disney world uses rerefence models of their characters. They do this even though the artist can draw without it.

Building an intuitive knowledge of real anatomy is invaluable for figure drawing / sculpture / modelling. That being said, using reference photos, maquettes, and live models is also invaluable. So you need both. But even more important than either of those is practice… i.e. shortcuts don’t really exist.


Okay. Most of the time, I use my memory.
Because being someone, who has been drawing since I was small, and being an art student in school, I already have an idea, of how the human body looks.
And sometimes, I would use reference pics and photos from the net, especially
if I’m creating human game characters. :slight_smile:

I would say, that in some cases, you could use a combination of memory
and reference pics/photos, for modelling 3d characters. It all depends on
the situation, and the character(s) you are making.

PS: If you’re looking for reference pics, check out a good site called 3dsk.
They have alot of good stuff on that site.
Eg. Sword pic’s, 16th century gun pics, and even human body pics too.
Many game devs and indies, might know about them.

Believe it or not, I was surprised to find out, that the assassin’s creed team
other game dev studios, and the makehuman guys, sometimes use photos
from the 3dsk.

So enjoy!

One comes from the other. Experienced artists tend to know these things, but only because they’ve spend countless hours drawing/sculpting them from reference. Using reference is less of a shortcut more the main road, and definitely not cheating.

1 Like