Friday, March 25, 2011

Toys As Reference Material

Grandpa's Tractor (cropped) Acrylic/mixed media

Gathering the right reference material for your artwork can be a challenge, especially if you don't have easy access to the real thing. There are only so many sources to look to in your search for the right information (Internet, libraries, museums) and sometimes those results are unsatisfactory. I try to look for alternate sources to obtain the pictures that I need for a given project and one of those is using toy versions of the object in question.



 Over the years I have purchased and photographed a number of scale model ships and cars (you have to assemble them first) as well as replica toys as small as Matchbox cars.



For the above project, I found a set of three John Deere tractors to use. I picked the one that I liked the best and then set it up at the angle and lighting condition I wanted for my painting. I always draw out my idea sketches first so the photography goes smoothly and fits into my design.



Using a macro setting, I zoomed in as closely as I could and took the photos I needed. I then made final drawings and painted from my "toy reference". I could never have accurately imagined the angle of the overturned tractor without using this process.

13 comments:

Mike Blake / Monisawa said...

Oh my gosh TOYS?! haha I've used them before...but I thought that was because I was cheap. Great job! And I remember the story the illustrations went along! It was in the friend a year or so ago...

Greg Newbold said...

Blake- I guess it's OK to be cheap (or thrifty if you will. I do it when it's easier than tracking down the real thing to photograph. Thanks for remembering the article, it was more on the "or so ago" side than the "a year" side.

Patti said...

It's interesting to see how you used the toy tractor. Your work is really great. Love the style.

Jack Foster said...

Very cool Greg!

Emila Yusof said...

beautiful painting. i love how you use the toy as reference.

cathyjune said...

Beautiful scene! Thanks for the illustration tips too.

Beth Anne Maresca said...

Really lovely paintings! Love your style!

Ray Ferguson said...

Wow, outstanding illustrations!

Sarah Melling said...

Great piece! I can never draw from photos, and always need a model or mock-up...you've given me some great ideas!

elizabeth said...

Gorgeous painting, and it's very interesting to see your process. Thanks for sharing!

Greg Newbold said...

Thanks for the nice comments everyone. Hope this little tip will be helpful next time you are faced with this type of reference gathering problem.

Cindy Paul said...

Reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting. You are very talented and I enjoy your work. Thanks for the tips.

Kayleen West - Children's Book Illustrator said...

Greg that is a great idea. Thrifty and clever! Toys would simplify machinery and motor vehicles quite a bit too, which is better for children's illustration. I will keep that one in mind.