Create Artwork Based On Your Photography

Here is a colored pencil drawing of a pumpkin that I created for my Thanksgiving Day cards.
Here is a colored pencil drawing of a pumpkin that I created for my Thanksgiving Day cards. | Source

One thing that I have found helpful to do over the years is to use my pictures as reference photographs for my artwork. By using my own photographs as as reference tools for my art projects, I am able to give my illustrations a personal touch that is all mine. The more I draw and paint, the more I see I have a certain kind of style that is the J Hanna style, and no one else can produce my unique kind of work. Today it is easy to create your own reference photographs because digital cameras are affordable, and these are easy enough for most everyone to use. Rather than buy an expensive digital camera that the professionals use, a basic one for around a hundred dollars or so will probably meet the needs of most people who are just taking pictures for themselves, as reference photographs for artwork, and who are more interested in creating simple, yet beautiful photographs. Now if you are looking to start a professional photography business, you probably want to think of purchasing more expensive equipment, but for most of us a basic digital camera will do. I have been using my Aiptek HD camera since 2008, which takes both high definition video and 8 megapixels pictures. This little camera has meet all my needs in the last three years, and it continues to work, even after I dropped it a few times and let my niece and nephew play with it.

Creating The Reference Photograph

The picture of a pumpkin I used for the reference photograph.
The picture of a pumpkin I used for the reference photograph. | Source

I took a picture of an organic pumpkin on my counter as a reference photograph for my sketch.

Sketch Out The Pumpkin

Here I am beginning to draw the outline of the pumpkin for the Thanksgiving Day card.
Here I am beginning to draw the outline of the pumpkin for the Thanksgiving Day card. | Source

For my drawing I just made a quick study of the actual pumpkin right in front of me, but I have included the reference photograph that I could have used if I were not near a pumpkin when I wanted to draw it. The useful thing about a reference photograph is that it enables you to draw a person, place, or thing when you cannot be there at the moment. For instance, many of the landscapes I have drawn of the San Bernardino Mountains have been based on photographs I took since I was not able to go up there when I wanting to create an illustration.

In this phase of the sketch I have finished sketching in the sections of the pumpkin.
In this phase of the sketch I have finished sketching in the sections of the pumpkin. | Source

In this part of the sketch I am adding the ribbing to the pumpkin, but keeping the drawing relatively simplistic.

I am beginning to color in the dark orange parts of the pumpkin.
I am beginning to color in the dark orange parts of the pumpkin. | Source

I used a dark orange colored pencil to fill in the ridges of the pumpkin's ribbing. The dark pencil will fill in the ribbed sections of the pumpkin first, and then I will color the inner portions between the ribbing with a lighter orange colored pencils.

Coloring in the sections between the ribbing on the pumpkin.
Coloring in the sections between the ribbing on the pumpkin. | Source

With the light orange colored pencil I colored in the lighter portions of the pumpkin in between the ribbing. I enjoy blending the light portions of the orange colored pencil into the darker portion of the orange colored pencil on the pumpkin drawing.

The pumpkin is now completely colored in when I took this picture.
The pumpkin is now completely colored in when I took this picture. | Source

In this picture the pumpkin is not completely colored in, except for the stem.

The light brown color has been added to the pumpkin stem.
The light brown color has been added to the pumpkin stem. | Source

I used a light brown colored pencil to shade in the stem on the pumpkin.

Coloring in the blue sky above the pumpkin, and adding the text to the illustration.
Coloring in the blue sky above the pumpkin, and adding the text to the illustration. | Source

For my pumpkin illustration I decided to create a blue sky behind the pumpkin with a colored pencil. I traced over the cursive text "Happy Thanksgiving" with a black marker.

Here I am coloring in the background where the pumpkin is sitting.
Here I am coloring in the background where the pumpkin is sitting.

I have created a green grass for the pumpkin to sit on with a colored pencil. As I am coloring in my drawing, I envision this to be a scene at a pumpkin patch rather than on my counter. Artistic license allows you to change details in your drawings, which is why you use your photographs as references, not absolutes guidelines.

The completed drawing resting against the pumpkin.
The completed drawing resting against the pumpkin. | Source

The completed drawing of the Thanksgiving pumpkin is propped against the actual pumpkin to display the illustration. Even the pictures I took of the pumpkin would make fun Thanksgiving Day cards, but I am primarily focused on using the scanned version of my pumpkin drawing for my cards. Usually, I print out my own cards, but you can also use print on demand websites like Zazzle and RedBubble to turn your photograph and artwork into cards.

Here is the scanned picture of my pumpkin drawing, which I used to create Thanksgiving Day cards.
Here is the scanned picture of my pumpkin drawing, which I used to create Thanksgiving Day cards. | Source

Below I created a video that documents what my Thanksgiving Day pumpkin drawing looked like after I finished it.

My Other Artwork That Is Inspired By My Photographs

My photos have also inspired many of my other drawings, and here are a few that I have created over the years.

My Self-Portrait Sketch

Source
Source

My colored pencil self-portrait was based on a photograph I took of myself recently.

Picture of Lady dog from 2005.
Picture of Lady dog from 2005. | Source
Picture of Lady dog from 2002.
Picture of Lady dog from 2002. | Source
Picture of Lady dog from 2002.
Picture of Lady dog from 2002.
Here is a sketch I created of Lady dog in 2007.
Here is a sketch I created of Lady dog in 2007. | Source

The pencil sketch I created of Lady dog is based on several photos I took of my pet, and my memories of her sitting next to her favorite window.

My Tree Sketch

This is a tree I drew from my backyard.  I did not take a picture of it to use as a reference because it was a quick sketch, but I think you get the idea about creating reference sketches by now.
This is a tree I drew from my backyard. I did not take a picture of it to use as a reference because it was a quick sketch, but I think you get the idea about creating reference sketches by now. | Source

My Forest Sunset Sketch Drawing

My forest sunset sketch drawing, which is based on photographs I took in the San Bernardino Mountains.
My forest sunset sketch drawing, which is based on photographs I took in the San Bernardino Mountains. | Source
Photograph of the San Bernardino Mountains.
Photograph of the San Bernardino Mountains. | Source
Sunset in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Sunset in the San Bernardino Mountains. | Source

I created the forest sunset sketch with several photographs I took up in the San Bernardino Mountains. The mountains have been an inspiration for many of my landscape art projects. This drawing has been used to design a t-shirts that I have bought for myself, and is one of my favorite and most vibrant illustrations.

I designed a t-shirt with my forest sunset sketch.
I designed a t-shirt with my forest sunset sketch. | Source

My Buster Dog Sketch

The scanned drawing of Buster.
The scanned drawing of Buster. | Source
The framed drawing of Buster hanging on the wall.
The framed drawing of Buster hanging on the wall. | Source
This is a photograph I took of Buster back in 2002.
This is a photograph I took of Buster back in 2002. | Source

Using your photographs is a very creative and inspirational way to find ideas for new art projects. Try it today!

Have you ever used your photographs as reference for an art project

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All photos and content of this hub are the copyright and intellectual property of J Hanna, and may not be copied without permission. You are welcome to embed my YouTube videos into your website, hubs, and blogs, and to link back to my hubs.

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Comments 18 comments

no mac salad 5 years ago

Excellent, you are very creative...


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Hi No Mac Salad,

I appreciate your comments regarding my work.


mary615 profile image

mary615 5 years ago from Florida

very creative! I love the shirt you did. I try to draw, and I'm fair at it. If I look at a picture, I can usually duplicate it. I could never just draw "out of my head", wish I could. I painted a mural on my back fence and it turned out really good. Thanks for this info.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Hi Mary,

I used Zazzle to create the shirt by uploading my drawing there. You can also use iron on transfers, or go to a local silk screener if you do not want to use an online print on demand service. I actually like Zazzle though, and I enjoyed the quality of the shirt they shipped to me.


SirDent 5 years ago

Awesome hub. You are a very creative person. I am not good at drawing but I used to love to do oil paintings of landscapes. Maybe one day I will get back into that.

Voted up!!!!!!!!!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Hi Sirdent,

I think you should try painting landscapes again. Those can be fun, and if you can paint, drawing is not that all different. I recommend the website the fivepencilmethod.com, which has lots of free advice on drawing tips and techniques.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

I enjoy sketching when I can find the time!

I love your T-shirt and Busters sketch is brilliant, you are so creative!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Hi Movie Master,

I always enjoy our comments. Hope you enjoy the next time you get to sketch, I know I find it relaxing!


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 5 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

I enjoy your creative hubs, you inspire me. I have to admit, it didn't occur to me to take photographs and then try to draw the image. All your art is awesome, and the card with pumpkin feels warm, like the colors of fall.

Voted up and awesome!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Hi VioletSun,

My art teacher in high school taught us about finding a picture to use as a reference for drawing. Some people are really good at doing this from memory, but I liking having a photograph to refer to myself. I appreciate your wonderful comments!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Wow, SweetiePie, you are a brilliant artist. Thank you for showing.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

I always appreciate your comments Hello, Hello!


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

I absolutley love your sunset sketch. Unfortunately, I am really good with the camera, but when it comes to actual sketching and drawing, not so much. I am going to blame it on patience because I have drawn some pretty cool stuff but other times I just can't seem to do it. You however are a wonderful artist. I am going to have to show this to my daughter because she is learning to draw and paint still life right now and this will probably help her!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Oh thanks Barbergirl! I am glad my hub might inspire someone who is a young artist. I try to encourage my niece to draw as much as she can because I wish I had been more serious about my art when I was younger.


katrinasui profile image

katrinasui 5 years ago

Great Hub! The Pictures are fantastic. You are a brilliant artist. Glad to have a talented friend like you.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 4 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

You always leave such nice coments Kartinaui! Thank you!


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 4 years ago from Central Virginia

I wish I had just a fraction of your artistic talent. But, I have none. Great hub!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 4 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Hi lrc7815,

I am sure you could do something cool. Thanks for commenting!

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