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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Importance of Creating a Picture File

Creating a picture file should be on the top of the list for the beginning artist.  A Picture file is the accumulation of photos, magazine cuttings, and other images that have been gathered to serve as a launching point for the artist.  The purpose is not to create a copy of the image necessarily, but to provide a reference for the artist.  I do not recommend copying images from magazines, as this could rapidly create trouble for the artist guilty of the copyright perpetration. For our purposes here, we will create a picture file from scratch.

Digital Cameras are relatively cheap these days, and one can obtain a good quality digital camera with high resolution (preferably 5 mega-pixels or higher) for a minimum outlay.  The idea of creating a picture file is to capture images that can be used either for inspiration, or as a reference for textures, architectural reference or otherwise.  I prefer to print my images on my printer at home on a piece of photo paper, sized to fit the page (usually 8 1/2 by 11") so that I can make colored copies to use in my studio.  Working from copies helps protect the original image so that it may be used over and over again.  If you do not have access to a color copier, a plastic report cover will also help keep the image clean, and is what I use in my pastel classes to protect the student materials.

When taking images for your picture files, remember that you aren't trying to capture an image for a photo album, but creating a reference that you can use for future use.  Don't be afraid to take pictures of everything, ie. up close images of grass, leaves, rocks etc make for excellent reference photos. Also consider taking taking pictures of unusual subjects. I once photographed a closet of old heating pipes found in the basement of an estate store.  In this case the world is your launching point.  Photograph it often and apologetically..who cares what anyone thinks?

When Taking pictures of people, remember that to use their likeness you will need to obtain a release, and forget attempting drawings of celebrities for any other reasons that fan art.  Celebrities own the rights to their likeness, and attempting to sell images of celebs can land you in deep doo doo in a hurry.

Storing your images is easy and requires only a trip to the local department store.  Folders can also be purchased very cheaply, and I will often pick them up on sale at a local department store for a few cents each.  Organizing the photos as to type of image is also helpful.  Having a folder for Animal, Nature, Architecture, and miscellaneous will help you find the reference picture that you need quickly.

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