PureRef Tutorial (One of the Best Art Reference Tools)

PureRef Tutorial

Today I’ll give a brief introductory PureRef tutorial and why you should download it. It’s one of the best tools for viewing and organizing reference images into what I’ll call reference boards. PureRef is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

What is PureRef?

The website defines it as “The simple way to view and organize your reference images.” If you’ve ever gathered tens, hundreds, or even thousands of images, you may struggled trying to organize them into one place you can easily view. Or maybe you brought them into one giant document in Photoshop and tried to manually arrange them? PureRef is here to save your life. I’ll be using my own artwork as an example in this tutorial. You can click on the screenshots to make them larger.

Loading Images

Images can be loaded into PureRef in two ways: through the right click menu or drag and drop from your file explorer.
OR drag and drop from your file explorer
Easy as 1, 2, 3!
Drag and drop files from explorer to PureRef

Optimizing canvas

When you import images, the canvas may be larger than the amount of space that the images occupy. To get rid of this space so that it’s not present when you export the image, you need to optimize the canvas.

Saving PureRef Files

You can save your reference board as a PureRef file.

Loading PureRef Files

You can load previously saved PureRef reference boards.

Exporting PureRef files as images

You can export the entire PureRef as one big image, many individual images, or individual images.

One Big Image

This exports the entire reference board as one big image. Be wary of the size, as it can get large very quickly, so you may want to bring the quality or the dimensions down.

All Images (Individual Images)

Export all the images on the reference board as separate, individual images into the folder of your choice. This is particularly useful if you’ve gathered lots of images across different folders and want them to all be in one place.

Selected Images

Almost the same as “All Images”, except it only exports the images you selected. On Windows, images are selected with Shift + Left Click.

Zooming in on Image

You can zoom in and enlarge an image by double clicking it or pressing the spacebar while the image is selected.


That wraps up the my basic PureRef tutorial! I’m sure there’s more to this program than what I went over, but those are all the functions I need to use it effectively. I hope this tutorial and program is useful to you or someone else! Please share if you find the information valuable!


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