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  • Tom LaBaff

Prairie Dogging Your Reference


To ‘prairie dog’ your reference means to not use your photo inspiration as a crutch. Use it sparingly.

Look at it and then tuck it away. Study and observe your subject reference but don’t copy.

Try working from your short term memory and let that inform your design.

It may take a little warm up time to activate this part of your brain.

Remember the contour figure drawing you used to do in school?

I hated the practice but essentially, that’s my ‘prairie dog’ technique. I see the value it in now!

It takes some serious discipline but I urge you to try it.

When I do this I get really frustrated with my first attempts. They look NOTHING like

my subject. (See just how bad they are in the video!)

But then as you trust your memory, the likeness will present itself.

Boom! It works. Give it a try. Use Trump, he’s a good target.

I’d love to see what you come up with. Send it to me and I’ll collect and

show a bunch of the results next week!

Good luck!

Tommy