Grafit Studio’s Reference Pictures for All Your Creative Needs

The art industry can finally agree on one thing: using reference pictures is not cheating. For some, pose reference pictures have become by far the only option to replace the usual figure-drawing practice throughout this year’s self-isolation. Even some big art schools have replaced onsite life-drawing classes with creating visual libraries to draw from.

Russia’s leading 2D-art outsourcing studio Grafit, shares their thoughts about creating and, ultimately, using reference pictures in their daily pipeline.

Their start and main idea behind the project:

We always backed up our work with the custom refs we were shooting right at our office, they were quite goofy to look back on but greatly served their purpose. This spring, we had a photoshoot inspired by our AD Viktor Titov who needed pose references for our studios’ Riot Games commission. Realizing it might be as helpful for fellow artists as it has been for us, we uploaded it to Artstation Marketplace.

Offering reference bundles regularly and what to consider:

We were simply blown away by the positive feedback we received after posting our first refpack. We decided to invest in quality lighting equipment, backdrops, hired a professional photographer right away, and it took on!

Every photoshoot has a theme we develop together with our team and the models. You can get lost in an endless search for a proper reference – this is why we always try to create a clear title to make this quest easier. We analyze leading artworks to see what character poses would fit for a particular subject matter. If it’s a fantasy art such as MTG illustrations, we take it as our primary reference and create poses based on what artists will actually need, no random pictures included. For one of our latest releases, Splash Art Female Pose Reference Pictures we scrolled through hundreds of the best splash artworks to find the most popular poses and recreated them with our models.

Where can you use the references:

We strive to create pictures that would fit well for commercial projects, personal work, and serve as a study tool. Illustration, character design, concept art – just to name a few areas. It can be a decent alternative to figure drawing sessions, especially if you don’t have access to the life-drawing classes. We were approached by some art schools that wanted to implement pictures in their teaching process, as they had to transition to online classes.

As for the technique – whatever helps you achieve the desired result! Reference can serve as a starting point of your piece, it can be added to your work later as you move on to render, or it can be used as a base for the future designs.

Using references in a studio’s pipeline:

Normally, we have two ways to go about this: after the sketch stage is approved, we move on to drawing the base of the final illustration. This is when photography comes in handy, it helps the artist capture their character with the right proportions and anatomy, which is extremely useful when handling complex scenes.

If a client doesn’t have a clear vision of the pose or how the character appears in the illustration, we sometimes shoot exploration pictures and use it as a base for the sketch.

Artworks by Monika Pałosz and Viktor Titov

Plans for the future:

We have so much exciting content planned for the upcoming months! Aside from continuing on our work, we are in the process of filming an anatomy course dedicated to commercial 2D illustrators – we strongly believe in learning the fundamentals and hope our passion will pass on to anyone who is going to apply this information in their work. We hope to collaborate with more art schools and industry professionals to create new products that will be truly helpful in modern art education.

We love watching the community grow around the subject – people posting their results on Instagram and Discord, reviewing each other’s work, and networking. Join us, so we can roast your anatomy too!

Discord Weekly Speedpaint Challenge, from left to right: Justyna Gill, Ivan Kazachenko, Alexey Stepanov


Follow Grafit Studio on ArtStation and get their latest reference packs on their store!


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