5 Free Online Gesture Drawing Reference Tools

Jun 05, 2017 at 05:31 pm by Barbara Din

Gesture drawing is a great--and many would say necessary--art exercise. But if you're not drawing from life, paying a model to change poses every minute, you have to prepare yourself some reference photos, then stop and change them at your chosen intervals, and this disrupts the flow of the practice. Thankfully, today we can find some online tools that save you from those tedious interruptions and add some useful automation ingredients to help your sketching muscles grow. Most have image libraries that will show at random, but you can fine tune in different ways. The following are some online tools that you might find useful.

Line of Action

You can choose from Figures, Animals, Hands and Feet, and Faces and Expressions. Then you can fine tune the choices, like what type of expressions (angry, sad, etc.) or what kind of animal (mammals, reptiles, etc.). Then you have two type of sessions: all the same length (that you choose as well) and Class Mode. Classes warm you up with quick gesture drawings, then ease you into longer poses. Longer ones include built-in break times.

SketchDaily Reference Doohickey

As an extra to Reddit's r/SketchDaily, this one offers full body, body parts and animal references with options like gender, type of pose (action or stationary) and type of view (front, side, back). You can also choose how much time each image will show.

SenshiStock Sketch

This web app has human reference poses that include more than one person. It lets you set the delay for each image shown as well as which type of photo to display, like type of pose (foreshortened, kneeling, flying, etc.) and props to include like musical instruments, bow and arrow, staff or sword.


This one has human body references with many fun options that include challenges with certain type of photos and offers a certificate if you choose to track your progress. You can set the interval, show the images upside down, set how many images you want to sketch, see their full library and link to a forum to share your drawings.


This one is different than the rest, but not any less useful: You choose your own reference images from your computer (no image is uploaded, you just use the web browser as an app). This is great if you have a collection that you've been building and want to use, but you don't have a way to show them in a comfortable way. You can set the interval, choose if you want to see how much time you have remaining, and even if you want them to show in black and white, which I think is also useful if you want to do some value studies.

Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina. Learn more about Barbara and her work at the following links:

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