Free Figure Reference for Designers and Artists

figure design images for artists and designers

If you are a budding artists, character designer or illustrator there are bound to be times when you need human figure reference. I was recently looking for some books to help with figure drawing and showed different poses but in the process of searching came across a website that could really help. is a website which provides resources and information for artists, illustrators and designers, one of these resources being figure reference photos of people in different poses. There are several sets of photo poses which you can chose from a drop down menu. The figures include action, facial expression, nudes and figures in costume. Although some are a little rigid/posed they are a good starting point for getting proportions etc right.

Also on the site are photos of events such as fashion shows and anime expos, all again which can act as good reference for drawing the human figure. There is also a section where artists and illustrators can display there work and a forum too. As this site grows I think it could become an excellent resource for artists and designers alike.

Resources for Improving Drawing and Illustration

squido illustration

I stumbled on squidoo about six months ago but to be honest never really took to much notice of it. Squidoo is a platform where you share your experience of subjects you feel you have a good knowledge of and like I say I hadn’t really thought any more about it until I stumbled across a lens (post) by Gannon Beck – an illustrator called Learn to be an Illustrator. This post is fairly indepth and while the illustrator does not provide his own tutorials he splits his lens/post into sections which work you through the stages of improving your drawing skills via:

  • the first books you should read
  • Youtube videos explaining perspective
  • Drawing supplies
  • The next books to read
  • More drawing instruction – sketching and figure drawing

He then moves on to his recommendations for learning to paint and draw cartoons.

If you are looking at improving your drawing skills as a designer or illustrator, or a student just starting out this site may be worth a look.

While you are on the Squidoo try a few more graphic design related searches, I am surprised at the amount of information on there and think I may have dismissed the site too quickly.

Sell your Art and Designs as Prints Online

sell design work

I came across a site called Imagekind which allows artists, designers and illustrators to sell prints of their designs online with no initial outlay. I know cafepress and similar sites offer the ability to customise a lot of different items but this site seems to specialise in prints and offers buyers the opportunity to have the prints framed for which the artist also receives a commission.

Designers can have a free account which allows them to upload a maximum of 24 images (you can pay to upload more). You then choose how much you want to mark up your print price (your commission). You then market your site – perhaps with a link from your design blog, images can also be found through a search on Imagekind itself.

I haven’t tried the service but would love to hear from anyone that has.

Design Case Studies – Dani Jones

design case studies

I contacted Dani to see if she would be interested in showing a design case study after seeing a post on www.danidraws.comThe making of a children’s book illustration, make sure you check it out along with her other work.

Design Case StudiesDesign Case studies is a feature where graphic designers/illustrators are invited to show off a piece of work and talk us through their design process from initial ideas through to their final design.Dani Jones (pictured left) is featured this week and talks about one of her designs.

1. Your Name?
Dani Jones

2. Your Location (City and Country)?
Keene, NH

3. Your Website or Blog URL?
Sketch Blog:
Illustration tutorials and articles:

4. Project Title?
Cover illustration for the children’s book The Best Mariachi in the World (Raven Tree Press, 2008)

5. What was the brief?
Mariachi is a story about a boy named Gustavo who wants to be in his family’s Mariachi band. Unfortunately, he cannot play any instruments, but throughout the course of the book he slowly learns to develop his own true talent — singing.

6. What sort of research did you do?
The book takes place in the Southwest, so I had to learn a lot about desert life, including the animals, plants, and culture.

7. How did you start? (eg. planning, brainstorming, sketching, moodboards etc) Please supply images of planning/sketching stage.
I usually start a project with lots of thumbnails and very loose sketches, just to get some ideas down. I’ll slowly refine my sketches until I come up with a solid idea that I want to develop further.

first sketch

8. Where did your inspiration come from?
Much of the book takes place at night, in the middle of the desert. The text describes a sky full of stars, cacti that towered over him like trees, and various wildlife that comes out at night, like owls and coyotes. I really liked these visuals, so I wanted to include these on the cover.

9. Where did you go from here? (talk through with client, work up visuals etc)
I showed the client my general idea, which they liked. I now set out to refine the drawing.

My first drawing ended up looking a lot like my first sketch. I researched some photo reference of some cacti and refined the characters a little.


10. How did you present the concepts? What sort of feed back did you get from the client? Please supply images of concept stage
Both the client and I decided that the first refined sketch ended up being very stiff, and lost some of the dynamics that were indicated by my original concept.

To fix this, I redrew the background to emphasize the perspective and movement. I also redesigned my main characters and reworked the poses a little.

sketch next stage

Eventually, I ended up with the drawing I used for the final painting.

final sketch for book cover design

11. Where did the design project go from here?
First, I made a a few color studies using Photoshop. I found that the biggest challenge for this project was to create a night scene that could look bright and colorful, and not too dark. It remained a challenge throughout the final painting, and I had to make adjustments several times during the process to continue making it lighter.

colour studies for illustration

12. What are your thoughts on the final design are you pleased with the outcome/anything you would like to change? Please supply images of the final design.
The final image took a little back-and-forth between the client and I, but eventually I think we were able to come up with an image we were both happy with. I wish I had put more care into figuring out the value and color problems before I started the final painting. Overall, I am happy with the result.

final book cover illustration

13. Any thing else you would like to add?
Visit to see more of my work. The Best Mariachi in the World will be released in 2008. Be sure to watch for it!

Art Rage – A Cheap/Free Alternative to Painter

Art Rage

Most people have heard of Painter by Corel which simulates the look of real paints and canvas, but you may not have heard about Art Rage. I read about Art Rage recently in a Mac magazine and decided to download the free starter edition to quickly try it out. The starter edition gives you a few tools including chalks, oil paint, pencils to get you started, extra tools are disabled, available in the paid edition costing $25 for Mac or Windows. Missing also in the free edition is the ability to create layers.

I have a copy of Painter but as a very occasional user find it quite complicated to use and I felt that the cut down version of Painter (Painter Essentials) lacked the tools I wanted to try. A quick try of Art Rage and it seems fairly intuitive to use, it gives you the ability to place a tracing image, useful if you want to use a sketch or photo as a base and I like the look of the oil paints. Why not download the free edition and give it a try?

You can see what can be done with Art Rage in the video below.

Inspiration for Illustration

I am a big fan of illustration and used to do a lot within my work, unfortunately time/budget constraints and cheap royalty free images means that it’s now a luxury to be able to illustrate, and it’s easy to get out of practice. I thought I would share with you some sources of inspiration for illustration that I have found on the web.

Ilustraton Friday

Illustration Friday
has a new theme every Friday and invites illustrators to submit illustrations on a word/topic. The topic is usually fairly loose so you get a real mix of interpretations and styles. The illustrations can also be seen via Flickr.

Ilustraton class

Illustration Class
is a website I mentioned when my blog was fairly new (so probably only me and an accidental stumbler read it 🙂 ), so I think it’s worth taking a look at again. The website written by Von Glitschka (illustrator/designer) is literally as the website’s name a series of illustration classes. Tutorials include creating an illustrative logo, creating illustrative icons, creating illustrations starting with basic shapes, collage illustration. The illustration exercises really remind me of the sort of creative exercises I did at college (all be it they were then by hand rather than on computer).

Amateur Illustrator
Amateur Illustrator
This site is a community for illustrators. I am not quite sure of the term amateur as some of the entries seem to be by practising designers/illustrators, none the less there is a wealth of different illustration styles to view here categorised by media/technique. You can also join the site and upload your own images and profile to the site.

Advocate Art

Advocate Art
A large illustration agency based in the UK has a website featuring illustrations organised by artist and type (cartoon, graphic, figurative etc)

I Spot Illustration

The I Spot
This is a site where lots of different artists/illustrators showcase their work


“Drawn! is a multi-author blog devoted to illustration, art, cartooning and drawing. Its purpose is to inspire creativity by sharing links and resources.”


Vektorika Magazine
Mentioned before on this blog, Vektorika is a free downloadable PDF magazine of vector illustration from various artists – each issue is based on a theme ie. Love, character design etc.

Start Drawing

Start Drawing
A portal for Asia’s illustrators and artists this site features a wide variety of illustration styles, well worth a look. Found via

Smashing Magazine – Masters of Illustration
Smashing magazine showcases more than 100 illustrations from contemporary illustrators.

If anyone knows of any more I will be happy to add them to the list.