Illustration Basics
Jun 2023
Gregory Markov

One Hundred Websites to Find References

References help you to avoid inventing something that has already been created and instead focus on conveying the original ideas. Gamedev Punks has collected 115 resources filled with all kinds of references for artists and animators. We also divided them into categories for your convenience.

From rendering anatomy accurately, comprehending volumes, mastering color and shading, choosing appropriate costumes and character traits, deriving inspiration, setting project mood, or grasping unfamiliar details — our guide provides resources to help you with everything.

Primary Resources

  • ArtStation: A premier platform for artists to display their portfolios. Almost all the pros exhibit their works here.
  • Pinterest: An invaluable website for exploring and storing references. Its algorithm recommends similar images based on your selections. You can create themed boards and subscribe to others for constant inspiration.
  • Huaban: The Chinese counterpart of Pinterest with a Chinese interface. It is a treasure trove of fascinating images a few people know about.
  • DeviantArt: The website still offers a huge repository of art, photographers, cosplayers, and naturists alike.
  • Character Design References: This site provides extensive concept art, design ideas, and artbooks from diverse artists. It also hosts challenges and interviews with artists.
  • PhotoBash: A large platform where you can purchase comprehensive packs of reference photos. Primarily meant for photobashing, these materials also serve as excellent regular references.
  • SketchFab: Similar to Artstation but with a focus on 3D. It allows you to view and rotate 3D models in the browser. Works are organized into categories like architecture, characters, vehicles, and others.
  • Stock Libraries: Shutterstock, iStockPhoto, GettyImages, Depositphotos, Adobe Stock, Unsplash, and Pixabay. Each offers a range of creative assets like photos, images, templates, videos, music, and more under different usage conditions.
  • Google Arts & Culture: This service gives access to global cultural images like classic paintings, photos of landmarks, exhibitions, and museum displays.

Human Anatomy


Clothing and Fashion

Props and Environment

  • Little Visuals: High-quality photos of buildings, landscapes, objects, and scenery.
  • Malopolska's Virtual Museums: Offers free models of various exhibits from Polish museums. The collection includes rare vases, jewelry, furniture, watches, and rare cameras scanned in 3D.
  • FoodiesFeed: A vast repository of food photos.
  • Free Refe Photos: A Tumblr channel with photos of environments, objects, clothing, food, landscapes, and more.
  • New Old Stock: An archive of vintage photographs.
  • BoneClones: A souvenir shop selling bones and skulls.
  • MapCrunch: Service with an interface similar to Google Maps, suitable for virtual plein air. You can select a random mode and travel to an unknown location.
  • Fantasy Architecture Pinterest Board: This board showcases fantasy art and concepts with architecture in various styles.
  • Materials Pinterest Board: This collection focuses on various materials, including a selection of stones.
  • Met Textile Conservation's Pinterest: A collection of boards featuring photos of rare textile items.

Technology and Weapons

  • Rocketumblr: A Tumblr channel offering various types of cold and firearms, as well as modern technology.
  • IndustryForever: Contains photographs of various technological elements like cars, airplanes, ships, etc.
  • Modern Firearms: Encyclopedia of firearms with images, historical photos, and blueprints.
  • Pinterest Boards: "Weapon & Armor" and "Weapon References" offer images of realistic to futuristic weapons.




  • Mixamo: A service that allows you to select animations from a library and see how they work on your 3D character.
  • Live Link Face: An iOS app by Epic Games allowing facial expression transfer to any Unreal Engine project.
  • Model Sheets: Features character sheets from various animated films, including Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Casper.
  • SAKUGABOORU: Collects GIF animations from different animated films.

Virtual Museum Exhibitions

  • National Museum of Natural History Virtual Tour: Located in Washington, this museum's digital collection offers a comprehensive display of its exhibits. It includes an easy-to-use navigation system to guide you through the halls.
  • Vienna Museum of Art History Online Exhibition: Explore high-resolution digital reproductions of works by famed European artists. This online exhibition brings some of the best of European art history into your home or studio.
  • Indian Museum, Kolkata Virtual Exhibition: This is the oldest and one of the most significant museums in India. Their digital gallery provides access to various exhibits, including archeology, art, anthropology, and more.
  • Hermitage Museum Online Exhibition: Brings digitized works of famous artists and sculptors, which the museum owns.
  • National Museum of Korea Online Exhibition: This online showcase features photos of the museum's historical exhibits, including sculptures and pottery. An excellent resource for artists interested in Korean art and culture.
  • Italian Violin Museum Online Exhibition: This virtual tour showcases a collection of rare and vintage violins. It provides an intimate look at these intricate instruments.
  • The Louvre Museum Online Tour: The world-renowned Louvre Museum in Paris offers a comprehensive online tour featuring some of its most iconic exhibits, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
  • The Metropolitan Museum Online Features: Based in New York City, the Met provides access to thousands of artworks in its online collection. This resource spans 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present.
  • The British Museum Online Collection: The British Museum in London offers an extensive digital collection covering over two million years of history and culture. The museum's vast collection includes the Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies.
  • Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad Digital Gallery: This is one of the three national museums in India. The online collection allows you to browse a range of exhibits, including sculptures, paintings, carvings, textiles, manuscripts, ceramics, metallic artifacts, carpets, and clocks.
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai Collection: Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, CSMVS offers a virtual tour of its extensive collection, covering India's history from the Indus Valley Civilization through modern times.


  • Brushezee: Offers Photoshop add-ons, including brushes, textures, and templates.
  • WowHead: Features 3D models from World of Warcraft.
  • CreativeUncut: A gallery of concept art and artbooks from over 800 video games.
  • VideoGameArtStyles: A Tumblr channel focusing on games with attractive visual designs.
  • PolyCount: A forum for users to share reference links.
  • GameArtPortfolio: Offers a collection of portfolios from different artists in the film and gaming industry.
  • Iconfinder: An icon archive. Most are paid, but you can find many free ones. Supported formats are PNG, SVG, ICO, and ICNS.
  • Wootha Archive: Offers 90 gigabytes of artwork by artist Stefan Richard, which he did for Netflix and Legendary, and original works.
  • Public Domain Archive: Links to various websites with free high-resolution reference materials.
  • Adobe Color: Website for creating color palettes according to harmonious color models such as triangular, complementary, composite, and so on.
  • PureRef: A program for collecting, organizing, and managing references.

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