Digital body kun

Why references and visual guides are important.

Use JustSketchMe for free online instead of a Body kun

When you are trying to improve upon and master your art skills, there is a misconception that in order to do so you need to strike out completely by your own accord and rip the training wheels off of the bicycle that is your creative pursuits.

Body chan

The first thing people often forego in their attempt to become the next Ross Tran or Alex Ross, are visual references. Perhaps they keep a drawing mannequin on hand or purchase a pricey Body Kun, but the supposed reliance on visual reference for their work comes to be seen as rookie or novice.

The truth is, using visual aids and references to help you is anything but novice; it is the ultimate art hack for professional artists and makers who know that any time saved planning means more time spent making.

In our attempt to create a digital body kun of sorts, one that would help artists all over the world to create poses and references exactly to their specifications, we have done a lot of research to determine how and why the use of drawing and pose references are so effective and worthwhile.

Memory can only get you so far

Your brain simply won’t remember the exact intricacies of the human body while embroiled in a fight with a giant monster, because one of the brain’s most important functions is the sorting and categorising of phenomena based on usefulness and necessity.

While our noggins’ supercomputers are things of beauty, it also has to sift through reams and reams of data every second to ensure that we take only essential and important information from the experiences we get ourselves involved in. Let’s not even talk about remembering that one weird thing we did when we were 7, and chalk it up to a medical mystery.

References are good for you (and your art)

The use of references in your piece are not necessarily intended to help you effectively render super realistic and accurate scenes and characters. If that’s what you’re after, by all means go ahead and do what you need to do to make art that makes you happy. But if you’re still trying to hone your craft and develop skills as an artist, why not think of references as a way to conjure believability instead.

Believability allows a viewer to buy into the fact that your character, a spider witch, has long and gainly legs, and she towers over the young warrior desperately trying to rid his village of her presence. A spider witch is not based in much reality, and bipedal legs can really only extend so far beyond the hip bone before it starts to reek of the uncanny valley, but using reference and grounding your art in some semblance  of what is humanly believable allows you to experiment with various extravagancies and fantasy and still have it be received in a way that isn’t jarring or incongruous to the viewer’s worldview.

How to use visual references in your art

Here’s the fun part - references and planning is a great way to orient yourself and your skills in the drawing you’re about to do. You’ll often find that an accomplished piece of illustration or concept art is roughly 80% planning, 10% preparation and 10% actually drawing and sketching that which you have laid out. And really, it shouldn’t be any other way. Planning is an integral part of your process, and helps you to execute what you set out to do in the first place.

On the JustSketchMe app you’ll find a laundry list of features that enable you to effectively plan and prepare for your next artistic odyssey. The most exciting of these being our models, digital body kuns for you to use and manipulate precisely to your specifications and vision.

Pick your digital body kun, articulate their joints and limbs and pose them exactly how you picture it in your mind’s eye. Now, when you export your pose reference you have one less thing to worry about when you’re hunkered down and drawing away at your scene. You can also mould shapes and props to stand in for weapons or objects to further deepen your sense of space and scene.

With the upload background feature you can add additional details to ensure that your character or characters are grounded in physical reality, and are informed by their surroundings and not in spite of them. This feature is really nifty because sometimes your two samurai duking it out in front of a temple just seem a bit lost in space and time, and the upload background feature really helps to negate that!

We hope we have sold you on making use of visual reference and guides in your work, and that you see the potential merit of having a digital body kun (or three) to help you create your next masterpiece.

Written by Dante Ludolf