References as a crutch?

No.526653 ViewReplyOriginalReport
I'm currently trying to learn 3D modelling as a hoby, but one thing through the tutorials I see continues to irk me. Whenever getting into character modelling, most every tutorial uses some form of reference, instead of just going at it, and, from my standpoint as a learner, I don't think that helps, since it just revolves around placing your mesh over an existing image. Do these tutorials truly help learn character modelling, or is it just crap?