For me the last time I thought about this topic is some time ago, but since i haven't written anything about it, it might be the right time now x)
I think when I start talking about references and such things, I have to go back where I encountered stress because of people arguing about it.
My opinion on using references before wasn't really developed.
I just thought "Yeah, I like that, I wanna draw like him or her" and analyzed the works I have admired to use the things I found make the picture.
So in my progress of working on my skills I started with copying Naruto and Kingdom Hearts pictures as well as people from photos (because I liked that as well). But when I started copying manga pieces I noticed there was a big difference in the way people approach your work.
Photos are ok, manga is not.
Anyway, I started to get better and I didn't really need to copy something as a whole to get a good picture but took parts like an eye or something and made my own picture out of that.
Nevertheless, the community where I uploaded my stuff reacted like they have been betrayed when they noticed a reference or something.
And since then it got a bad taste... not in the case that I thought using it was bad, but openly showing
it was bad. Like people think you are a bad artist when they know you referenced pictures.
My attitude today is a bit different. Of course I know people think worse about your work when they know you use references (when I think about that stuff that happened to kronprinz). That's why I believe it's even harder to admit it in the first place.
But to be honest, these people can think what they want, they don't matter. It's your work and your abilities that matters. And in my case they just got better everytime I watched the work of the artists I admire closely.
I learned not to give shit about people thinking you have no skill if you use references, even if it's hard sometimes and comments can hurt pretty much.
These pictures aren't even my own ideas, I copied them from pictures I found on the internet. Technically speaking those pictures are the result of the practice I had when I copied manga pages in my early days
Nevertheless I put thought into it since I thought those pictures are worth to be drawn.
And people didn't even mention it as a bad thing that I "just" copied something or want to tell me that I should work on my own style...which was often the case when I referenced pictures by
Propably what makes most people angry about references especially
with manga-style art is because they did not expect it, when it was not mentioned in the comments, and feel betrayed for whatever reason,
Personally I understand not linking the reference every time, especially when it's pretty obvious, but also when it's not, simply because of the mentioned reasons. The best trick for those people to not feel betrayed is propably always assuming that a work was done with reference in the first place...
Back to the topic. In the case of the painting of :iconliuiaquino: it's even a reference within a reference, since he had Hiccup of How To Train Your Dragon 2 in mind.
This leads to the next point where I think you should not think of using references as a bad thing:
In making cosplay it is vice versa. If you can't recognize the character which was the base of the costume you won't get recognized.
But I've never seen anyone comment like "Hun, you just copied a work by Takeshi Obata" or something.
I know there is a difference between those...genres? Because you do photos shootings and such. But for me doing both, drawing and sewing cosplays, it feels much alike.
If you work with references, you still need some skills to get a decent piece. And the best thing is, you gain skills when you work with references. At least that is what i experienced.
Thank you for reading if you made it to the end