Photo Reference Books for Drawing and Painting

I recently ordered two card decks that feature animals. One is the Blue Dog Rose Tarot by Nakisha Elsje VanderHoeven, and the other is the Spirit Animal Card Deck by Sue Lion. One of the things I like to do with special decks is work up some artwork to explore the images or take inspiration for my own art in subject or colour—whatever happens to strike me.

In going through my books to see what references I have for drawing, I found a gorgeous over-sized book with beautiful photography of reptiles and amphibians, and some old books published by Octopus with good dog and cat pictures. We bought a print of a painting of a cat in a store 32 years ago, and the artist had used one of the photos in my cat book! I once had an old discarded library book about birds of North America, that eventually fell apart. One day I will need another bird reference. I have used all of them at various times but I don’t have specific books on mammals or insects with good photo references. I have some Knowledge Cards of bugs but I wanted something better.

While browsing at Amazon I came across the children’s/young adult Eyewitness series by UK publisher Dorling Kindersley. They always do beautiful layouts and graphics in their books. Each book only has 72 pages but they have crisp isolated close-ups of animals and insects, as well as skulls and skeletons and information on habitat. Lots of great photographic references for my purposes but without the price tag of a hefty photography book.

So I ordered the three I thought I would use the most, given the gap in my own books: Eyewitness Mammal, Eyewitness Animal, and Eyewitness Insect are the three. Here’s to future projects and inspiration from two card artists who are new to me.

Oh shoot, I thought I’d better get a bird one with birthday money since I no longer have one. I almost bought this last year, so before it goes out-of-print I will get the paperback. The gorgeous photography in this one is breathtaking. I had started a picture some time ago and got stuck on drawing beetles, so maybe I can get going on that again between all these references. There are some rodents in the Eyewitness Animal book and I don’t have any photographs of them currently. Judging by this book I might use a bird from it if I see a good reference.


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