Monday, December 29, 2014

Using Pinterest as a Reference Tool

Many artists, myself included, work from reference on a regular basis.  Even when I'm working on original comics with original characters, I still need to source reference- it can inspire the story, give authenticity to environments and characters and settings, and make my job as an artist a bit easier.  Over the years, I've amassed a huge collection of reference for different stories- usually squirreled away on harddrives, never to be used again.  Rather than hunt through reference hordes, I've started utilizing Pinterest to help me organize my images.

Pinterest can be searched (like an image search), uploaded to (by 'pinning' existing images on the internet, or uploading your own through the smartphone app), and organized (like a pinboard on your wall).  While Pinterest has a variety of uses to the artist, the one I'm going to focus on is utilizing Pinterest to organize your reference materials, negating the need for keeping them on your computer.  By using Pinterest to organize your inspiration and reference, you have access to your reference anywhere you have computer or smartphone access, making it easy to work on the go.  The more you pin, the more Pinterest can find things you might be interested in- every time you pin something to a board, Pinterest shows you similar boards to explore.  When you find something you want to explore further, but don't want to lose your original train of thought, simply right click and open it in another tab.  If you're interested in a blow-by-blow in using Pinterest for the first time, you can check out this Wiki How.

I've started using Pinterest to help me collect and organize reference and inspiration for 7" Kara.  I have image boards for individual characters clothes, the dollhouse Kara's family lives in, and even a general inspiration board.  Using Pinterest to help organize my images frees up space on my phone (I often screencap inspiration as I come across it while reading my feeds), and hopefully I can start clearing my hard drives of Kara stuff.  This central location for reference makes it easier for me to find what I'm looking for, or for inspiration to strike.

Not everything on my Pinterest boards was uploaded by me from my reference stash.  I also utilize Pinterest to find inspiration and reference.  While Pinterest is no replacement for Google and Google Images, it can be a great tool if you're looking for specific things.  If your search is on Pinterest, it's even easier to add inspiration to your boards, and it's easy to share your finds with others.  This can be done in a number of ways- adding a widget to your site, adding other users to your boards so they can pin as well, or simply emailing your pins to others.   For example, I set up a Paracord crafts board that both my mom and I can post to.  This enables us to easily send ideas.

For example, when creating a board for Naomi (a young teenage girl whom Kara befriends), I searched for things like:

"modest clothing for teenage girls"
"sundresses for teenage girls"
"stylish clothes for teens"
"natural hairstyles for girls"


This is the overview of my personal Pinterest, including all the boards I have, both secret and public.  Since it's on my phone, there isn't much of an overview for you guys, but you can see how I break things down.

The board for Kara's house inspiration includes dollhouses and miniature construction, as well as crafts and furniture I think would suit their home.

Meldina's inspiration board includes clothes and hairstyles.  Terms I used to seed this board included 'mori girl' and "Gunne Sax"

Overview of my character boards from my phone

Possible Uses for Pinterest As a Reference Tool

Creating Boards to Serve as Inspiration for Individual Characters
Consider including:
  • Clothing reference
  • hairstyles
  • physical appearance
  • poses
Creating Boards to Serve as Reference and Inspiration for Locations and Settings
Consider including:
  • Upload your own reference photos
  • Pin photos from Google
  • Searching Pinterest's travel board
  • Searching terms related to the location you have in mind
Installing the Pinterest button in your toolbar to make pinning easier as you search, so there's no need to even save the images to your computer in the first place.  I also use the Pinterest app on my phone to take photos of things I seen in real life and upload them to the intended board.