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On Reference

Went for a walk through the downtown today, and was reminded of all the reference photos I took when I started drawing Friends with Boys. Although it isn't set in Halifax (it's set in Generic Coastal Small Town named ... *cough* ... Sanford), I decided to use Halifax as a reference point because, hey, I live here, and it's a very attractive city.

A friend of mine rented a room in this house for about 3 months. I visited him and asked if I could use it for reference... it was absolutely massive. Rooms and rooms for days!

Prettiest graveyard ever.

The Oxford movie theatre is a bit famous, having previously shown up in an issue of Local by Bryan Wood/Ryan Kelly. I saw Pan's Labyrinth there.

This is a record shop around the corner from Strange Adventures. I've always liked the way it looked, so made it into a barber shop for the comic.

Quinnpool Street, one of Halifax's two "downtown" streets... (I kid. Except not really.)

The characters visit this museum, but I actually have not. So those of you who're actually familiar with its layout can laugh at my inaccuracies when you read the comic.

Anyway. I have become more and more enamoured with the setting of a comic book, and have turned into a bit of a reference whore. I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing, as I find sometimes I'm paralysed because I don't know what a particular building looks like, or what I want it to look like, but I think the reference adds my work a weight and realism it didn't have before. Also really good for reference: IKEA catalogues!


I really miss Halifax now. My dirty secret is, even though I lived in Nova Scotia until I was 21 I never went to the Oxford. The one time I tried it was full.
I've only been once, to see Pan's Labyrinth. Park Lane is closer to where I currently live. But I'm moving close to Quinnpool in August, so I may go to the Oxford more than once. It's a cool theatre.
The details here are amazing!
Ooo! Love that first house! It's beautiful! I'm looking around for apartments and if I saw a place like that renting rooms I'd probably set an offer straight away.

and IKEA! I love their huge, crazy warehouse-like stores, and I never thought of using those as references. I'm openly going to say I'm going to steal that idea from you. :) Book looks great so far, I look forward to reading it!
Ikea catalogues have great prop reference. Their stuff is usually a bit funky looking, so it's fun to draw. Pretty much all the props/bgs in my Girl Comics piece came from an IKEA catalogue.


Fun! Comics that take place around the corner from my house!
Haha, for reals? Where do you live, mysterious person? ;)
The panels look lovely! And I quite enjoy comics referenced off of real places. Especially real places that I have lived in and can recognize.
Yeah, I get a kick out of it too. Like when they used Casa Loma for the X-Mansion and the ROM in Chicago.
"sometimes I'm paralysed because I don't know what a particular building looks like"

You don't find Google street view useful for this?

Have you tried Bing's (OK, Bing Maps)low-flying oblique (4 oblique angles for each location) plane pics they call "aerial" view?

I just went and checked and Bing Maps has the full aerial (4 oblique angles with zoom-ins) coverage of Halifax in addition to their satellite coverage.
I guess it's more a "this is what this building looks like, but do I actually want to draw it like that?" feeling. Sometimes buildings aren't very attractive. I'm a fan of mixing and matching.
If you ever need some kind of reference shot and can't find it in Halifax then maybe some of us might have what you need. Maybe create a dump site where people can drop in their photos and everyone could reference.
You mean... like google's image search? XD
This is pretty! I admire your ability to translate reality into art.
When you go out for reference, do you get photos before you storyboard the story and such, or afterwards? Does that question make sense? ha ha
This is already an older post, but I really enjoy seeing your reference stuff here. I'm kinda crazy about google street view these days; SO good.

I've loved Halifax every time I've visited. My partner and I are currently considering moving there. We'll see!