My artwork has a definite line between it. That line is the use of a reference, and the lack of a reference. My work looks entirely different when a reference is used and when it isn't which is a bit unnerving, but does lead me to the conclusion that I need to practice more. As an example here are the most recent pictures I've done. One with a reference, and one without.
These pictures are using two different techniques, but the focus I'm putting on them is the general anatomy/expressions. In case you couldn't tell from first glance the one of the left is without reference, and the one on the right is using a reference photo of Christina Ricci with a few things switched around.
With reference, there is more attention to her general face shaping, and the tones in her skin which helps for a believable face. My picture without reference seems to highlight just the important area's and the rest fall to the wayside. There is also a lack of deeper shadows and brighter highlights making the face seem sort of flat-ish with the exception of a protruding nose, and forehead. There's no expression in the first picture (which we'll be referring to as Traveler from here on out) which is the same for Ricci (the second picture) but while Ricci looks expressionless, Traveler looks more like a dead fish. Traveler focuses on colors in skin while not creating a believable face while Ricci with it's lack of colors seems to create more of an impact. What all this means exactly? I'm not sure, but I do know that I enjoy the look and feel of the second one moreso than the first one, and need to practice more with faces and anatomy.