The artist’s approach for the collection, sorting and implementation of references can say a lot both about his professional qualifications and about his general philosophy. However, my experience with contractors shows that a lot of beginners (and not only) are very superficial about the collection of information, which entails superficial execution. As for me, I'm sure that proper collection and processing of reference images and text info is one of the most important parts of professional 3D artist work.
Colt Walker. Model by Noble Empire. Rendered by Alexander Yartsev. 2013
It is a common mistake for beginners to think that reference collection is not so important.
The customer may well ask why the performer made this or that decision when creating the model. If, in support of his work, the performer provides a detailed well-structured document with references, this can not only convince the customer, but also show that there is a good, responsible specialist in front of him.
The client may well ask why the performer made this or that decision when creating the model. If, in support of his work, the performer provides a detailed well-structured document of references, this can not only convince the client, but also show that he has is a professional, responsible artist in front of him.
Along with all this, collecting, analyzing and sorting references - is a separate part of work. It is important for 3D artist to regard this not an annoying inconvenience but a necessary part of the task.
Always coordinate the list of references with your client. This will avoid misunderstandings in the process of work and in its end. It will also show your responsible attitude to work.
Careless, superficial approach to collecting information leads not only to low product quality, but also shows the client that he is facing an artist with dubious expertise.
So where do you get references for such detailed modeling?
Milkor MGL. Created by Alexander Yartsev in 2012 for Noble Empire's World of Guns
The question here is perhaps not where to get them. The most popular search engines have all known addresses. There is no secret here. It's all about the approach to search and experience. Personally I prefer to divide the preparation stage (reference collection) on two paces.
The first is to find general diagrams and photographs of weapons (or other items from the task). At this stage, it is advisable to understand what parts the weapon consists of and what you need to pay the most attention to. Great luck is to find the owner's manual in this case!
After that, work on the overall blocking of the weapon usually begins, in order to understand its dimensions and main components.
Specific queries in the form of "HK7 trigger" or "AK bolt" direct you to online stores, where you can find detailed photos of one or more weapon parts.
In addition, with your experience grow, you begin to notice what others usually do not see in ordinary photos. Such is the magic.
Functionality of the part for which we could not find enough references can be restored from indirect data. Knowing how and that works, what functional load it carries, we can assume the appearance of some nodes. Or its main parts at least.
The understanding of how the part was manufactured is especially helpful. Manufactures are very rational guys and will rarely come up with additional problems for themselves. All what they do is primarily for the sake of functionality, weight loss and ergonomics. Of course, understanding all this takes a lot of experience.
To finish - a small example of how the references of a pro 3D artist may look like. Cheers