10 Reference Websites for Concept Artists and Illustrators

When designing new characters and environments it is good practice not only to use image reference for accurate depiction of your chosen subject, but also learn some background information which may help inform creative design choices and generate more interest.

Books, art gallery’s and museums are invaluable for this, but in this day and age we also have access to a vast array of website resources as well.

I’ve listed 10 online reference resources below, which not only show images of different subject matter but also provide educational context about them or at least show useful reference images.

Wildscreen Arkive

The largest natural world encyclopedia online. Lots of information about the natural world.

Air Pano

Shows 360° photo presentations of places around the world and gives information about them.

The Art Renewal Center

This website is useful for learning about art history. Its focus is on realism.

The Met Fifth Avenue

The Met Museum Fifth Avenue.

Book Collection about Bio Diversity on Flickr

A collection of archived images about bio diversity

The British Library’s Albums on Flickr

An image archive from the British Library


Deep sea creatures from the North Atlantic

Google Arts and Culture

The Armoury

The Armoury, historical image reference from many angles for lots of different armour types.

The Etherington Brothers

Useful reference sheets for Illustrators and artists.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found that interesting.