You’re only as good as your reference

Aayla Secura

During one of my classes at the Art Institute of Philadelphia the professor said, “You’re only as good as your reference.” Trusting student that I was, I immediately began challenging the statement in my mind. I had seen many fellow students, and professors produce beautiful artwork without seeming to look at anything except what they were making. I thought, “where’s their reference?” Then it occurred to me that it was in their head. They had spent a long time looking closely at the world and had built up a visual library in their brains (sort of a wetware version of Google images). Since then I have learned over and over again that my best work requires a little research.

Ventress vs Aayla

Ventress vs Aayla thumbnail duel (click on the image to start the animation)

This week’s drawing was inspired by the 3D animated Clone Wars movie (tolerable, but too long and often clumsy (they could probably say the same thing about this sentence)). Watching the movie made me want to draw some lady jedi in a lightsaber duel, and even though they weren’t in the movie I went with Asajj Ventress and Aayla Secura because of their interesting design. I did quite a few thumbnail sketches of the battle, but ended up selecting a single pose for today (not enough time to fully animate (not enough skill either (yet))). I started the drawing above without reference, but then after getting the beginning outline I knew I needed to prompt my memory. That’s when I found out what the character’s name was and that I had already messed up her outfit (fixed what I could and then figured she has more than one outfit).

Practice Hands

These are some sketches I did of my hand to warm up to do Aayla’s (mine aren’t blue or slender, but it still helped). I hope you enjoyed this week’s doodle.

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7 Responses to You’re only as good as your reference

  1. Lori says:

    This is so cool! You know I’m Fantasy Challenged and don’t know this character, but I LOVE the work. Good job! She looks totally fierce. Someone I would NOT want to meet in a dark alley on some off earth planet. L

  2. Matt says:

    Two lightsabers, is she evil?

  3. Adrienne says:

    Obviously a girl needs more than one outfit, even if she is a Jedi.

  4. Michelle says:

    And I kept waiting for the comment regarding how most of your “reference” was Star Wars…lol Great work!

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