Heidi writes: I’m interested in doing more marine life as my drawing subject but none of the royalty free sites or FB groups that offer free reference photos have good photos of marine animals to work from. I’ve been on wildlifereferencephotos and their marine section is mostly seals and dolphins that are coming out of the water. I’m looking for reef photos or deep sea marine photos. What’s your suggestion and how did you come up with your photos for your recent marine paintings? I’m also not a great photographer and don’t live near an aquarium.
Most of the reference photos for my current piece come from either morguefile.com or pixabay.com. The turtle I used doesn’t look anything like the turtle I drew, other than my general shape/position. I changed all of my colors.
I’ve actually used about 20 different reference photos for that piece. That would be rough on a land painting, but underwater, perspective isn’t such a big deal. I mean your perspective of each individual element totally matters, but the perspective from one fish to another…not so much. They twist and turn and can all be at totally different angles. It’s better if you do paint them all different. The best way for you to make a marine piece look flat is to have all your fish at the exact same angle. So finding lots of different angles and perspectives for each element in your underwater work really does work well.