How I Created More Than 50 Photo Reference Packs in 4 Months

How I Created More Than 50 Photo Reference Packs in 4 Months

What’s up you free artists, this is Ibrahim Lancoln and I have released 62 Photo Reference Packs since April. Today, I want to share with you my experience as a Cubebrush seller, give you some tips and tell you what’s coming next.


  1. Quick Intro
  2. My Experience
  3. My Tips to Boost Your Sales
  4. What’s Coming Next

1. Quick Intro

I am Ibrahim Lancoln a Game Environment Artist (or used to be). I've worked at Gameloft Montreal for almost 2 years. After my graduation I started to dream about independence and my first move was to save money as I was working on Dungeon Hunter V. 

Stylized weapon on DHV - concept art by Daniel Venegas

Once I saved enough, I traveled for two months in China and South-Korea and started the Nomad Photo Reference project which will hopefully lead me to my conception of freedom.

This project consists of creating a big photo reference library based on the needs of artists and my adventures. I’ve learned to listen to artist's wants and it is actually pleasing to provide a product that people ask for instead of just feeding your ego.

By the way, if you are a regular photo references user, you can ask me what you need simply by filling this Google form in 2 min.

Now, to finish with my travel story, I wanted to try the digital nomad lifestyle (which is not my style after all but this will be for another story). I had many doubts but one thing was for sure, I had to find a way to become independent and I wanted it to be online. Even if I am not a digital nomad today, I keep exploring and I have still a very flexible schedule, MY schedule! And this is where Cubebrush plays its part.

2. My experience

About Cubebrush, it all started with the will to share my knowledge about Environment Art and to try making a few bucks to buy myself a couple of beers with my friends. As you just read, my first products were not about Photo Reference Packs. My first product was a free tutorial about material & texture creation. It had a big success and that was the trigger for me to take some of my time to share my knowledge and assets.

Tutorial: Warmish pavements material 

I am using a few other platforms to develop my project but Cubebrush is the best one by far. Very user friendly and in constant evolution. As a seller I feel like it provides great tools and valuable datas to help me enhance my marketing strategies and the quality of my products.

I have two favorite features. 

1. The chat system. It doesn’t seem to be that much but actually, it brings you closer to your customers and if you want to be a good seller, you have to provide a good customer service too.

2. The community aspect. The blog, the forums and the ability to like, share and comment products. It makes this place alive, human.

I also like many other ones, they are more technical and I will develop that topic in the next part.

3. My Tips to Boost Your Sales

First, a proof of my results.

My results skyrocketed in July because of an exceptional sale I made because France won the FIFA World Cup. (On est tellement les champions !)

My first tip would be to create an exceptional sale to help you grow your audience.

But before giving you all of my selling tips, maybe you are interested in How I design my Photo Reference Packs, if so, you can click here to read the article.

Now let’s get back to the tips, once you have created a good product, you must sell it right, at least to honor your work. Because I create now the same kind of products, I have set up a template for my product description and I want to break it down for you. This template is designed for my Photo Reference Packs but no worries, you will be able to grab some selling principles that you can apply to your own products.

1. Branding & Bio

My header is not very centered I have to tweak that but at least you can see a part of my head, (having a face can be good, it shows that there is a real human being behind). Also my logo and the name of my brand are displayed clearly. Cubebrush Bio is very short as it is displayed on 2 lines. So I decided that the most important info to complete with the rest would be to write clearly what I create and put a link to my blog for the curious people who wants to know more about my project.

2. Cover

This is the first thing people will see, it has to be eye catching and sexy + give the most important info of your product. I designed and balanced the composition to have these essentials:

  • Top image: It takes almost 50% of the cover, I use a hierarchy of information, from top to bottom.
  • Title: Clear, easy to find back when you search for it whether on Cubebrush or even on Google.
  • Photo Count: I add a “+” before it when I round the numbers because it has to be easy to read. You don’t need precision here, you need readability.
  • A few previews: to contrast with the top image and give complementary info.

3. Categories

Pretty straight forward, nothing special to add here, just choose wisely.

4. Product description

First you must be aware of this Cubebrush article “Improve product description” to write a readable text presentation.

Use a hierarchy of information, titles, bold text, italic and integrate links to relevant info. Reading a product description is not fun, so make it efficient and make the important information readable instantly.

  • Description:
    • Small paragraph to highlight what you bring to your customers. I always try to put myself in my customer's shoes, thinking about the other is one of the key to a successful sale.
    • Bonus
      • Little anecdote (when I have one), some storytelling makes it more personal and real. After that, I give straight facts.
  • Ideal for: 
    • Your target
  • Photo Pack details: 
    • Product specificity
  • Like, comment and share:
    • Basic Call to action and this shows that I am open to feedback
  • Follow me 
    • For the people to stay in touch with you and your future content
  • Refund & Support
    • And last but not least, end it with a trust statement. You set your own rules here, just remember to let your audience know that you are here for them if they need help with your products afterwards. 
    • At first I was afraid that everyone would either get disappointed with my photos or just wanted to screw me. Actually it is exactly the opposite, so far I just did 2 refunds. I fixed the first one and the customer bought back the photos and the second one was my fault, I confused my customer with a bad description.

5.  Pricing

My basic pricing is an average of 0.02 $ per photo for the Freelance License and it can go up to 0,10 $ for the cutout PNG images (with a transparent background). It may vary a little bit according to the rarity of the pack.

Then, for the Studio License, I just multiply the Standard License per 5.

I started at a low price rate according to the market, and with the experience I gain I adjust it to the ideal pricing.

6. Preview images

It is important to have a few preview images because when you hover the product thumbnail with your mouse, you see the previews sliding. This is some kind of teaser. Because I am selling photos I add my watermark on them but the important thing is to let the people know a bit more about your product.

I see a lot of products with only a cover image, it feels like a trap :/ As a customer I feel some laziness from the seller and it makes a bad first impression about what I can expect in the product.

I learned that it was a good move to give before taking, so I set up a system to give the Free Samples for each pack at full quality and without the watermark. 

And I always put screenshots of all of the thumbnails of the photos so you can have a quick overview of what to expect. In the end, you have in a way, all of the Photo reference pack in the product description, you just can’t use it yet.

I am using PureRef to take the screenshots, nice and free software.

7. Dropbox

Uploading from Dropbox is a nice time savior feature as I can close the window once I wrote all the product description. Just make sure that each file doesn’t exceed 4 Go or the uploading will fail.

Now that I broke this down, let's take a look at what it looks like as a customer.

And here is a concrete example with my China by night - Photo Reference Pack.

Last Tip

If you are serious about selling your products, I suggest you to have your own blog as your “Head Quarter” where you centralize everything. That is what I do and develop day after day. The important thing is to communicate with your audience (and make it grow at the same time) about what you do on a human level. People come to my blog not just to purchase my Photo Reference Packs but also to get in touch with my project. Sometimes they are involved in it whether as a source that I use in my articles or as artists who want to help me here and there to make Nomad Photo Reference a better place.

If you had to remember something it would be these 8 principles:

  1. Put some effort into your marketing to honor your own work
  2. Make it sexy and readable (go to the essential)
  3. Define your target
  4. Tease
  5. Don’t hide anything
  6. Give before taking
  7. Stay in touch
  8. And finish with a sincere and transparent note.

4. What’s coming next

To spice things up I have set myself a challenge to create 100 photo reference packs by the end of 2018 !

I am developing more and more features on my blog and I invite you to become a member of my community because I will mostly develop cool features for my people. One of them will be to give exclusive discount codes for my Cubebrush store for instance ;)

More and better packs will be released, each time I make one I gain experience and I level up.

So the 100th pack will be AWESOME ! 

I hope you like this article and I can now answer all of your questions and read your feedback in the comments. I really aim to create a Photo Reference Packs library kind of “For Us By Us” style, so Stay tuned and follow me ;)

Ibrahim out.