Updated: Oct 5, 2021
So you now understand the significance of your visual library as explained in our post 3 Reasons Why You Need to Build Your Visual Library, but you’re not quite sure how to go about doing it. Well, have no fear, because we’ve pulled together a short list of the best sources of visual information for your library in this 2 part series.
In this post we are going to be looking at what I like to call Primary Sources. I call them Primary Sources because they are sources of information from our real world that, although curated, have not been interfered with excessively. Not making much sense? You’ll understand once you’ve read them:
This is the most significant of all sources. Travelling is a process that opens your eyes up to many things. Nothing matches experiencing different cultures, architecture, systems, activities, and people first hand with all your senses. The further you can go from home, the better. But even within your local area you will find endless diversity and references to draw from and get excited about, so if your circumstances don’t allow for travelling far you still won’t miss out.
Personally, when I travel, I love to pay close attention to local fashion, public services, and how people traverse their environment. I’ll grab photos or small sketches to really immortalise what I’m looking for and keep a physical/digital record for later.
Museums and galleries
Museums and galleries come in a close second to travelling, since they tend to be encompassed under its umbrella – who goes to a city that’s stood for hundreds of years and doesn’t visit at least one museum/historical site?
Museums collate all the good stuff in one place so that you don’t have to travel all over for them. In one section of a museum, you can study visual information from a multitude of cultures from one region in the world. You can see, read, and learn about changes over time, you can see how objects relate to religion, language, rituals, daily life, matters of state and more. You could literally travel the whole globe visually in a day. And once that’s in your head, you can use it – it can influence your next game character, the religious system in your comic, or the alternative science of your film.
Text books (history books, books on industry, animals etc.)
If it’s not possible for you to get out of the house/studio, then allow books to be your window to the world. Books or online articles from different professions such as healthcare, engineering, history, horticulture and more are all useful for their knowledge and accurate drawings and photographs. It is no secret that I borrowed my mother’s anatomy books to better understand the structure of the human body and the way the muscles worked, and on my book shelves I have guides on vehicle engines and space travel. All of these are brilliant references for you to take your art work and world building to a higher next level.
So that’s it for our first part. Primary Sources like the one’s we’ve considered in this post are an invaluable and often free tool that all of us can take advantage of. In part 2 we’re going to have a look at what I consider the Secondary Sources of content for your visual library. Keep an eye out for when it’s posted!