People asked me if I use references when I color and where I learned to use markers.
Long time friends who have been following me for years, know that I’m not a fan of coloring and that I have only recently started coloring traditionally.

I use references but not when I’m working on an illustration.
Like all other topics of art (gesture, posing, clothes, BG art), I do studies from life, photos or other artists’ works to learn new things and build up my artist’s library in my head. When you see an artist drawing/painting something from their head perfectly, it must be coming from the library in which all things they previously/constantly drawn or closely observed are stored.

I am a noob in traditional coloring and I have a hard time picking colors (in both mediums), so I do quick studies of background elements and shading techniques on the side from time to time, and with time, god willing, I’ll develop both skill and style in coloring.

Doodling, sketching with colors, experimenting and trying out new and different tools without hesitation is the best way to learn and get better with a unique voice of your own.

Happy arting!