A question was asked today (titled "Bowed head" reading pose) to find an appropriate image to use as a reference for drawing.
While the nature of the question is not appropriate for Arts & Crafts (or Stack Exchange in general), the topic is very relevant.

In order to get users searching for reference material a running start, it might be helpful to refer them to a thread that collects tips and advice, so please post links to online databases, practical tips on searching specific images online, titles of high quality books on anatomy or that have a vast amount of photos of poses, &c.

1 Answer 1


Summary of this Youtube video by Angel Ganev:

  • Reference images should have strong dynamic lighting which creates sharp shadows and highlights. A studio shot of a face is often lit from several angles with bright white light, eliminating almost all shadows. These images are bad references because you cannot learn the 3 dimensional structure of a face or body from them.
  • They should contain the whole head or body, not just parts of it. If the image only contains the face but the hair and neck are cropped, you cannot learn the dimensions of the body.
  • People in reference images should have a neutral facial expression and the face shouldn't be obstructed by objects or hands. Strange facial expressions draw too much attention and distract you from the natural structure of the face.
  • Beginners should stay away from painting babies or children, because the proportions of their faces and bodies differ from those of adults. First learn to paint adults, then try your hand at children, if you want to.

Sources for reference images:

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