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If you are to push your limits you can’t rely just on your own imaginarium because if you do so you’re setting serious limits to your potential.

You don’t have to figure out on your own how to do absolutely everything. Actually, there’s so much visual material out there that you are not alone, no matter what you are pursuing. Don’t worry, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t try to figure out anything at all on your own or never be free. I’m just saying that if there is something specifical you want to do, or a certain direction in which you want to push your style it is sensible to see what do very good people who pursued that line of work are doing it to be so good. Because we want to be good too.

We have to look images constantly, it’s part of the treat when you want to work on visual professions. Because images are about a common language and it has to be learnt. Browsing images and artists has one use and it is to build a references library. References may vary from one time to another, depending on what we are pursuing at that specific moment. The only condition is that we must save only the outstanding. Never settle for less. Why look first at the second best? First, the best. You should always look exactly in the direction you are headed and as high as you want to get because one thing is sure: whereas nobody can assure that you will reach as high a point as you’re aiming you will never get higher than you’re trying to so why settle for less?

When choosing your references, think of what kind of images you want to produce, what colour range, materials, kind of lines, styles and techniques do they use? How do they express textures, for example? Or how do they represent facial features.

Here are some of the references I’m currently looking the most at and what I’m looking at exactly (hence I want to improve and polish in my own work):

JSA Classified #1

Adam Hughes! Basically I love how versatile his style is. He has several ways to finish his artworks and all of them work wonders with his style. He knows exactly how to apply colour to his illustrations in order to enhance his linearts. On the other side, his linearts wouldn’t need no enhancement. His lines are pure and he has a knack for anatomy, poses and facial expressions. The attitudes of his characters always seem so natural and effortless, even in the most wicked angles. The facial features are always beautifully rendered and extremely expressive, varied and human.

The image belongs to Adam Hughes. Power Girl belongs to DC Comics. No copyright infringement intended.

Frank Frazetta was just perfect. Whatever he tried, he did it great. His compositions are stunning and had a great skill to understand body movement and capture it in his paintings. I want to paint like Frank when I grow up :]

The illustration (c) Frank Frazetta. No copyright infringement intended.

Alessandro Barbucci

I got to Alessandro Barbucci’s art, as many other have, through Sky Doll comic albums, which he does in collaboration with the as well amazing Barbara Canepa. His penciling is so clean and the way his characters move and their facial expressions are incredible. The detail in his work is amazing. All together whatever he draws has a fun, free wheeling feel to it and somewhat glorious. I admire most of all the flow in his work.

The image (c) Alessandro Barbucci. No copyright infringement intended.

Notice: All the images link to their authors site.

I look at many other people on places like, or, in artbooks, comic books and museums, from all centuries. But right now I’m actively looking at these three, I’m looking in order to learn from them because their styles have things that I want my style to have. How to do that is material for a different “Mind the gap” post.

So, we already had 1. Finish what you start. Now, 2. Look! Look, look, look references that you want to learn from.


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