The Benefits of Using References

Bunny Love - photo on the right is my rabbit and me
I use photos of friends, family members, and pets to help me draw more realistically.  I also keep a library of photos that I cut out from magazines and old calendars and organize them into categories, ie: Animals, Household Furniture, Technology etc. (categories get more descriptive with the more specific images I come up with). 

*I only use photos as a tool because it is still crucial to know how to draw freehand. 

I also love to use live models and get to see and learn from their expressions, and then sketch their personalities.

*Being an illustrator, is being an observer.  

Aside from live models, I also like to create sets to achieve various layouts and compositions. As a child (even as an adult), I loved to build and play with legos, wood, construction paper, and other various craft supplies.  I really enjoy being "hands on" and even though building anything is an extra step, it certainly helps out with constructing desirable layouts and understanding how light sources reflect on objects and people.

The Benefits of Starting a Piece Over

I cannot tell you how many times I find myself saying "this is a work in progress" or "this could be better" with what is actually a piece of art that I haven't touched in months or even years because the process of adding anymore detail is painful. Painful because no matter what I do, it is not going to end up helping the piece in the long run.  When I get to this point, it is just better to scrap the work and start over.  I will show you with what I mean with fresh starts:
Before Redo
After, receiving desired results

Here is another example, this time I restarted very early on:
Before Redo
Final product