The Internet is full of gems for artists to learn drawing and get references. Here is a list of great reference websites I gathered over the years. I will update this list with time. These particular resources have a broad range of references on various topics. Later I will post specific resources sorted into different categories.
Feel free to comment if you know something that should be added here.
Fotoref – Biggest photo reference shop
The FotoRef website is an amazing resource for artists to find references (or material for photo bashing) for everything except human anatomy.
It contains more than 190K of photos, videos, and 3D scans! So far, I haven’t found any other royalty-free reference library comparable to theirs. Some of their packs are free, so check them out.
They are also having a Gumroad (they have more stuff on the website) if you feel more comfortable buying packs there
Character Design Reference – Biggest Pinterest collection
One of probably the biggest Pinterest board collections of references for artists is collected on the famous Character Design Reference website. Their enormous collection contains reference and learning material on anything related to character design, props, and environments. As well as some tutorials. However, it’s worth mentioning that almost all their references are stylized and comes from animation, games, comics, or illustration. Also, most of it is protected by copyright and intended only for learning purposes. So you can’t take it and use it in your project as is.
Visual Library Tumblr – Get Inspired
Visual Library is an interesting Tumblr blog with a great collection of visually stunning photos and gifs on various themes and topics. It’s great for inspiration and mood boarding.
Reference Pictures – Reference Packs shop
Reference Pictures is a resource that sells big high-quality ref packs created by artist Noah Bradley. It has packs of people, items, and landscapes. Aside from paid packs (the majority), they also have free packs.
SketchFab – 3D model viewer
Sketchfab is a 3D model marketplace where you can find all kinds of models and preview them in the browser. It’s not really a reference website, BUT it can be used as one. Previewing is free, and it’s great for drawing the same subject from different angles. Low poly models are amazing for studying complex subjects in a simplified form.
Just Sketch Me – Build scenes
Just Sketch Me is an app for all platforms (including the web) that lets you to pose a 3D base character (or several) and even place various props and objects around it, basically building a scene that you can reference. They have both free and paid versions.
Sketch Daily – a free little tool
SketchDaily is a timed drawing session tool that uses its reference library of people, animals, environments, and even plants. It’s pretty small but completely free to use. In addition, It’s connected to a very big art community on Reddit, where they post a daily prompt for you to draw.
There are many great Gumroad shops out there! Some of them sell (or just give out for free) reference packs for artists. Here are some of them that I know about. Feel free to add your favorite ones in the comments.
Tom Lopes is an artist who sells (and gives out for free) many great ref packs with the environment and animals.
Little Pink pebble is another great Gumroad reference pack creator with all kinds of references, from environments to people and costumes.
Fin Spencer is giving out some good ref packs and selling some for very cheap on their Gumroad. It’s mostly photos from museums and photos of some very specific details. You will find it very useful if you are into mechs or military stuff.
*affiliated link. That means I get a tiny % of the sale if you buy anything, but you don’t pay more.
Thumbnail is made with photo by George Milton: https://www.pexels.com/photo/crop-unrecognizable-woman-looking-through-printed-photos-7015070/