CG Explorer Home
home · guide · archive · about · contact

Reference Images: Flickr.com as a source for Visual Artists

bed of clouds silhoutte by Moe Moe, original photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moemoechi/2061659989/. Used with permission. CG Explorer wants to thanks Moe Moe for their kind availability.

bed of clouds silhoutte by Moe Moe, original photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moemoechi/2061659989/. Used with permission. CG Explorer wants to thanks Moe Moe for their kind availability.

Where to find images, photographs and textures to use in your 3D renderings, 2D paintings or matte paintings? There is an enormous variety of sources on the Internet and finding the right one, before finding the right image can be an hard task.

Flickr.com was launched in 2004 as an image and video hosting web service and an online community of photographers and artists sharing millions of photographs with different intents: artistic expression, professional promotion, research, reporting or the simple will to share the beauty of personal moments. But it is also a huge library of images that you can use as a reference for your visual artwork.

Take it easy. Slow. Slow. Those are not all free images and the law is still valid as for any intellectual property. Still, there is such a huge amount of material that nobody could force you to not look at.

With the right approach and precautions Flickr.com can be use as a precious indispensable resource for the Visual artist (photographers, painters, 3d modelers, texture artists, matte painters but also filmmakers, writers and plain simple image-lovers).

Registered members can share privately their photos or they can make them public for anyone to view and comment making Flickr as an enormous collaborative archive of categorized images.

With more than 3 billions of images (as of November 2008)  it is important to say that with so many photograph you will likely find results for any subject matter.

Downloadable images, when available are varying in resolution from a mere preview of about 500 pixel width to the maximum resolution allowable by a modern digital camera that can be up to 3000 – 4000 pixels wide.

For the vast majority of the picture these data are available: Title, description, tags, geotags for geographical reference. You can decide to search the textual description, the tags or both.

Licensing and usage

Be careful to check the photograph for licensed usage and remember to always cite the author. In case the photograph is copyrighted and not freely usable for commercial works you need to get an explicit permission from the author, usually in the user profile page you should find their contact. In alternative you need to register as a Flickr user and send them a FlickrMail.

Creative Commons license

From:

http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/

an explaination of what it means for the user:

Attribution iconAttribution means:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if they give you credit.

Noncommercial iconNoncommercial means:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work – and derivative works based upon it – but for noncommercial purposes only.

No Derivative Works iconNo Derivative Works means:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

Share Alike iconShare Alike means:
You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

No Known Restrictions-License

The good news is that some museums are publishing on Flickr their “no known restrictions” licensed archive. If my understanding of this expression is clear, you should be able to use such incredible visual source as you likeUPDATE: According to the kind Mrs. Jessica Johnston

No known copyright restriction clarification: Each institution contributing photographs to the Commons has their own copyright statement that outlines how they interpret “no known copyright restrictions.” George Eastman House (where I work) is sharing photographs for personal use only. Commercial applications must be cleared with the museum. Enjoy! http://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/

.

Have a look at the “Flickr: The Commons” collection of:

  • George Eastman House
  • Library of Congress
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Nationaal Archief
  • State Library of New South Wales
  • Smithsonian Institution

Where you can find gem as:

Human Figure

Portrait of an articulated skeleton on a bentwood chair (by Powerhouse Museum<br /> Collection)Front cover from "Mecanisme de la Physionomie Humaine" (by National Media Museum)Contortionist, posed in studio (by George Eastman House)

Figure Drawing / Facial Expression

from ‘The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals’ London 1872. Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

'Fear' from 'The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals' London 1872.  Charles Darwin (1809-1882) (by National Media Museum)'Contempt' from 'The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals' London 1872.  Charles Darwin (1809-1882) (by National Media Museum)'Expression of Joy' from 'The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals' London 1872.  Charles Darwin (1809-1882) (by National Media Museum)'Sneering and Defiance' from 'The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals' London 1872.  Charles Darwin (1809-1882) (by National Media Museum)

http://www.flickr.com/search/commons/?ss=2&ct=6&w=all&q=expression&m=text

Reference Photograph: Flickr.com Search Examples

Human Figure

Human Figure Sketch (by -BOK- GDF)human figure practice (by Adam Polselli)human figure 03 (by JamesGF)

From:
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=human%20figure&w=all

human-proportions-12 (by Figure Drawing Ebooks)da vinci leonardo proportions of the human figure painting (by sheltercrow)human_proportions (by riowight)
anthropocentric (by "T" altered<br /> art)

From:
http://www.flickr.com/search/?ss=2&ct=6&w=all&q=human+proportions&m=text

Art: painting

What about looking for some fine-art paintings?

Appalachian Covered Bridge Farm Americana Folk Art Landscape Oil Painting (by waltcurlee)Landscape painting (by photoartomation)A Cabin in the Fields Provence landscape painting by Jennifer Young (by jenniferyoungstudio)

From:
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=landscape%20painting&w=all

Clouds:

And now for some beautiful cloud photographs:

*scattered clouds* (by freemysoul)Clouds...Explore Feb. 15. 08..#45  #66 on 3/8/09 (by mousenana2002)Clouds and Sky during Sunset (by davidgutierrez2007)
Through the Clouds (by fjny)

From
http://www.flickr.com/search/?ss=2&ct=6&w=all&q=clouds&m=text

Flickr.com: An Infinite Visual Resource for Visual Artist

There is only one major drawback: when you start to browse the infinite series of images available on Flickr… you will never stop…

Start searching for your reference images and photographs on http://www.flickr.com/

Be the first to like.

2 Responses to “Reference Images: Flickr.com as a source for Visual Artists”

  1. Jessica Johnston Says:

    No known copyright restriction clarification: Each institution contributing photographs to the Commons has their own copyright statement that outlines how they interpret “no known copyright restrictions.” George Eastman House (where I work) is sharing photographs for personal use only. Commercial applications must be cleared with the museum. Enjoy! http://www.flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/

  2. CG Explorer Says:

    Thank you very much Ms. Jessica. It’s such an honour to receive your comment here and your useful clarification.

    Max

Leave a Reply