Organizing Your Reference Material
If you use photographic reference sources in your drawing, you'll soon find that you have an enormous pile of photographs that you are shuffling through on a regular basis. You can save a great deal of time by organizing your photographs right away. Choose a system that best suits your preferred storage methods.
Whatever system you prefer, you'll need to divide the contents according to your favorite subjects. These might be: family portraits, figures, dogs, cats, landscapes, and still life. Broad categories that have many images can be broken up into subcategories. Photos of people might be grouped as particular people, nude models, clothed figures, hands, feet, and so on. Animals might be grouped according to breed, while landscapes could be divided by season, location, or a particular feature, such as sky, mountains, trees, and flowers.
An binder with plastic sleeves is useful for storing computer printouts and keeping them clean and ready to use. You might also place the original photograph in the sleeve, along with traced outlines or other notes. Use tabbed dividers to separate categories. Holders for negatives are available from photography shops to suit this type of folder.
Slipping your photographs into albums as they are printed is a quick and convenient way to keep them tidy. Write any relevant notes on the back of the photographs as you store them so that you can easily replace them in the correct album after use. This method is most suited to material organized by date, though you might also keep an album for each theme. For flexibility, choose expandable albums.
Photo Storage Box
For large amounts of reference material, indexed photograph storage boxes are the most cost-efficient. They also make it easy to flip through your photographs to find the right image quickly. Office index card boxes and drawers are ideal and can often be picked up second-hand, since computers have largely replaced card files.
Scanning prints or using digital photography and storing the images on a computer's hard drive or disk saves space and offers many options for convenient organization. Photo album software makes it easy to sort your images, where one image can be stored in multiple categories. This approach is particularly useful if you use computer paint programs to manipulate images, or enjoy printing a larger image to use as reference material.