These 6 great reference sites will help you draw awesome professional poses!

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Any students of our course on Anime Art Academy will know the importance of using good references for your illustration work. This is particularly true for difficult character poses!

Even the slightest mistake can make a pose look unnatural, and ruin the illusion for your audience, so it’s really important to study lots of reference material to use in your work.

Pose references can help with tricky angles (source: kamitokatachi.com)

Of course you might not find the exact pose you need, but studying similar poses from similar angles can help you understand how the body should look. Remember, when you’re studying, you should never shy away from tracing difficult poses and objects – tracing is a very important exercise and can help you understand poses and shapes in a way that might not be possible by just looking.

In the past, artists would have to hire models to pose for their paintings, but nowadays we’re lucky enough to have the entire internet at our disposal! Unlimited reference material, photos and videos at the touch of a button! Let’s be sure to use this to our advantage.

Here are some of our favourite pose reference sites for you to use in your work! Some of these are Japanese language sites, but since they are photo and picture based, they’re easy enough to navigate.

SiteWhat is it good for?
Doll AtelierLoads of 3D models! Super useful for manga and illustration poses (English available)
Kami to Katachi3D models, usefully arranged by type of scene (JP language)
Line of ActionSpecifically designed with sketch practice in mind. Select your preferences and start out on a timed sketching exercise! (English available)
QuickposesAnother great site offering timed sketch practice (English Available)
PakutasoFree stock photos. Loads of useful photos of humans, animals and objects for you to use as reference for your work. Lots of moving poses that come in handy for drawing actions scenes. (JP language)
pixabayFree stock photos. High quality photos, again, lots of moving figures to use for actions scenes. (English available)
Looks like this artist couldn’t find the right reference photo for their work!
(Only kidding, this is just one of the many pose reference photos available at pakutaso.com)

Finally, here are some great tips from Quickposes that will help you make the most of your sketching practice!

Tips from Quickposes

  • Draw the essence of the pose first and work on details later.
  • You will get better each session but it takes time and practice.
  • Learn from your mistakes. If you do this you will improve much faster.
  • Make these exercises a daily habit and you will surely improve a lot !
  • Find the best drawing from the previous session and aim to beat that during this session.
  • Challenge yourself and choose a shorter time limit every couple of weeks.
  • Try to complete your drawing on time.
  • If you can’t complete your drawing on time maybe you should change the time limit.
  • If your drawings are out of proportion try drawing the hips and backbone first.
  • Try different drawing materials from time to time.
  • Don’t forget to have fun.


For more awesome drawing lessons, and personal advice from our teachers, be sure to check out our courses at Anime Art Academy!

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