Reference Shot Guide

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Staff member
Content Creator
Jul 24, 2014
Good references shots are essential to make hair mods easily, most of the time, request with bad references will remain unfulfilled.

This is your part of the work, do not think that browsing the web or taking accurate screenshots from a movie is a difficult job: making the hair mod needs much more qualification and requires lots of time.

but read the rest also!
Find your references on the web (list of places to look below).
  • Side-view is essential: almost nothing can be done if the hair or costume is not shown exactly from the side (i.e. 90°)
  • Anime-style is essential: it means two or three colours (base, shadow, light reflection) with no or very simple gradients. Photographs, 3D game screenshots, digital "waterpainting" pictures, etc. have colour gradients very difficult to reproduce.
  • High resolution is essential: very pixelated refs makes drawing small parts quite difficult to reproduce (find PNG or JPG images, not BMP).
Put your references on an offsite image hoster (e.g. Imgur) and add them in image tags (
, top bar of the edition window).
, it wastes server space.

do you need?

Most of the time, the drawing will be made from a single image, but to do this, the artist needs a very good reference.
A good reference has:​

  • a character exactly from the side (90°, not from above or below).
  • a character standing still, in a straight position, with the head vertical and the hair behaving naturally.
  • all the hair.
  • a high resolution, especially if the hair has small strands, complex shades or reflections, etc.
  • an adequate lighting: not in the dark, with too much light or parts of the head shaded.
Actually, when you are looking for references, imagine that you remove everything but the hair and resize it: if it can be put in a PNG file and used directly as an hair mod, it is a perfect reference.

If the tracing of the image is correct but the lighting and colors are not adequate, then other images with accurate colours must be provided. But at least one image with a good tracing is essential.

should you look?

Usual places to find references:
  • Google images: lists almost all the images of the Web (but only 1.000 images per request are displayed, so do not rely only on it), with the option to see all the resolutions for the same image (get the highest one).
  • Imageboards are often the best place to look. Search with tags (usualy, the Japanese characters are tagged like that: <familyname_surname>, e.g. "akiyama_mio"). If nothing can be found with tags, search with Google and add the name of the imageboard (e.g. "mio akiyama gelbooru").
    • Gelbooru (anime artwork, most of images are there, but no suggestions in search)
    • Anime Character Database (about 80.000 characters, with many artbooks)
    • (high-res scans, the references found there are very good)
    • Danbooru (anime artwork)
    • Rule #34 (anime artwork)
    • Konachan (anime wallpapers)
    • Sankaku Channel (anime/manga/game images, this site is blocked in some countries, use a VPN from Japan to access it)
    • e-shuushuu (anime/manga/game images)
    • Zerochan (anime images & wallpapers)
    • Anime-Pictures (anime pictures & wallpapers, Japanese site, language selection in the top right corner)
  • DeviantArt can also be a place to look, with some fanart.
  • If they exist, dedicated wikis may have some good material sometimes.
  • Own screenshots: play an animated movie or a cartoon on your computer, pause the movie and press "Print Screen", then paste it and save in an image editor (MSPaint will work fine).
Tags for searching adequate references (add underscores when searching in imageboards/boorus):
  • profile
  • from_side
  • side_view
  • character_sheet
  • character_designer
  • kiss
  • blowjob

to show your references?

Save the references on your computer (right click, "Save image as") then upload them on an offsite image hoster (e.g. Imgur) and put them in image tags (
, top bar of the edition window).
DO NOT UPLOAD TO UNDERTOW.CLUB using this button :
upload button.jpg
, it wastes server space.

Avoid hotlinking or just giving links to the references: sometimes the links don't work or get outdated, and modders like to see directly the references.

to see what your refs should look like

No. 7 made a review of many different images (click on images to see them in full size):

Here's a bunch of excellent images, plus a bit of criticism so you know how each one could be even better. (Almost) All of them are images I used to make my own imports, so they're all "good enough."

Official art is always a good thing to check out. If an artist goes off of official art, it's very hard for them to "mess anything up" as far as accuracy of portrayal.

This is a pretty good picture to be able to reference. The only problems are that when you zoom in to her head, it is somewhat small, and that the style is pretty non-SDT. However, it's definitely a good image.

Related to official art, artbooks often contain a wealth of information about exact how the subject's head looks, and have such wonderful shots as these:

Especially of note is how this clarifies the difference between the left side and the right side of her head; for many characters with wacky anime hairstyles, this matters.

This only works for anime/cartoons, or anime-style cutscenes from a game, but it can be a perfectly good way to get a profile view and is also under the umbrella of being "official."

This is almost perfect. The only things to watch out for are the fact that it's the wrong side of her head (doesn't matter since her hair is symmetrical) and the colors are faded (supply an image with brighter colors).

Another screenshot from the same anime, a great image for the girl on the left. Colors are brighter, it's the correct side of her face. The only things to look out for are that even though it's an official image, for some reason it obscures green headband, which is an important aspect of her appearance. Also, the hair coming down in front of her body is resting on her shoulders in a way that would not work with SDT; this is something that could be left to the artist to fix, but it's good to know.

A great image. The only caveats are that since her head is tilted downward, the artist will have to adjust for gravity messing with where everything lies.

These are wonderful in that they almost always show a great multitude of characters and their hairstyle from the side. Sometimes they can be a little too deformed and stylized, but they are usually excellent. It's also the first category we've run into that is not drawn by an "official artist" (99% of the time), so be wary of whether or not the portrayal is 100% accurate.

This is just a little bit stylized and it's the wrong sides of all of their faces, but otherwise, it's a veritable goldmine.

Breast charts are usually fanart, but this is the last-most-preferable category. Most hentai is fanart, and everything on deviantART is obviously fanart. It's also pretty likely that this will be the bulk of what you find. Just be mindful that in this category, scrutiny for quality is key. There will be a lot to wade through that, even though they show the profile, are in the wrong style, are not accurate, etc.
This is pretty good. Her hair, however, is moving, so an artist would have to manually adjust to make her hair look stationary. Also, the back of the hair is cut off and an artist would need to consult another reference or freehand that part of her hair.

Pretty excellent. The only problem is that the style doesn't match SDT's completely, and the proportions of sizes are a bit wacked (the bangs are way too huge compared to the "official" portrayal).

This is good hentai (in more ways than one). It realistically and accurately portray's the subject's hair, except her braids, which look strange since they're in contact with the ground and not hanging. There are good hentai artists to rely on who always draw characters accurately and in a somewhat "realistic" way, such as Azasuke, Jyusuke, etc.

This is actually just "okay." I ended up relying on it for one of my first imports and that import needs to be revised desperately. It's in oekaki, so the lines are very thin and hard to trace over accurately, it's very rounded and stylized in a way that doesn't fit SDT, the proportions are off, and it's the wrong side of her face. Feel free to give an artist this picture, but don't expect them to be able to use just this.

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