Lets talk a little bit about references. Obviously the best reference is life and actual models. The second best is photos. Below that are things like technical guides and other people’s drawings. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s useful to copy existing art for practice. Van Gogh did some gorgeous copies of Japanese prints, for example. The fact is, the further the artist is removed from the subject they’re rendering, the more is lost in the interpretation. There’s a line between drawing from your imagination and drawing cliche.
There’s an old adage that when you copy somebody’s art you’re not only copying their mistakes but throwing in a few of your own as well. Personally I think it all depends on what kind of person the copyist is and how they approach it. I mean you can draw from photos and make horrible drawings that are based on photographic distortions and an amateurish notion on how to render the human body. You could also draw from photos and only use them as a guide to the pose. I had a prof in college who considered using photos as cheating because the image was already 2 dimensional. If you’re seeking to recreate that exact image then yeah, I guess you could call it cheating, but what’s the point in that?
Here’s some collections online I’ve found to drawn from. I try to play loose when searching for reference and use it more for inspiration as opposed to relying desperately on an image to copy. You’ll see 2 things a lot while looking for dynamic and nude models. A) Pornography that basically says, “Here it is! This is what you want to look at, isn’t it?! LOOK AT IT!” Because we all know nudity is the only requirement for good porn, amirite? B) “Artsy” people that like to photograph themselves. I’d heard stories of the art student that would always photograph themselves nude in a bathtub whatever the assignment was but I never seriously witnessed it until I started looking online for models. I’ll try not to include any of that here.
PoseSpace.com (NWS) is my personal favorite I’ve found so far because they provide a good number of models with various builds in a multitude of poses and they rotate the views.
The Drawing Script (NWS) practice tool for figure drawing.
eyedrawthings expressions from various angles.
Reference! Reference! is a good resource for animators.
More High Speed and Photoinstrumentation Photography (NWS) is another good animation resource as it shows multiple exposures of figures in motion.
Eadweard Muybridge: Defining Modernities (NWS) Example of Muybridge’s famous figures in motion.
EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE on Artsy (NWS) More Muybridge.
Athletic Body Diversity Reference for Artists Good example of how different types of athletes can have various types of builds.
ArtsyPoses (NWS) various models.
SenshiStock Nice DeviantArt gallery of stock model poses.
CuriousPeaches Another nice DA gallery.
comicReference Another DA gallery.
josemanchado (NWS) DA gallery.
Falling-Pixie-Stock Even more DA.
Erieye-Stock (NWS) DA gallery.
homeymodel DA gallery.
idaniphotography (NWS) DA gallery.