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Question about reference image for illustration

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Hi. I'm brand new to shutterstock.

I was trying to submit some illustrations that I have made over the years that were originally for Michigan DNR flyers.

They were rejected for “Missing Reference Image" https://showbox.bio/ https://vidmate.cool/ but.....

Under the guidelines, shutterstock states "Any illustration/vector that is wholly digitally created, such as those drawn on a tablet, do not require a reference image."

That is how I would categorize my "animals of Michigan" drawings. 
I do LOOK at a lot of photos in order to determine how the animals look I don;t have live animals to model for me. But the drawings are not filtered photos or auto tracings. They are hand-painted. If you zoom-in you can usually find some sketch-marks remaining even. For "reference" I use a google search usually consisting of several photos and sometime some of my own photos from the zoo. This gives me the best idea of how the animal looks. But there is no ONE photo reference for any of them.

My illustrations ARE isolated with no background because that is how I needed to create them for use on the flyers and also I think that would be the most useful for other people to use in the future.

If I painted in backgrounds, would that help?
Or maybe if I could find versions of them before I cleaned-up the edges? (I usually paint them freely but then "cut them out" to remove stray shading and sketch marks, etc. - Clean edges work better for most things I've used them for)
Should I just give up on submitting this series?

thanks for any insight, opinions or tips



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What I think the bot is doing, is that it goes to reverse image search and then finds similar looking images. White-headed eagle is quite common photography target and there probably is quite many this kind of photos, so shutterstock bot "thinks", that you are using some specific as a reference. Maybe easiest would be to find some public domain photos and use them as a reference so much that you can list them as being the reference.

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If you look at the OP's earliest post, it now has a link in it that I don't think it had before.

Unfortunately I think this is just another spam post with links it's not a good idea to take.

They sometimes seem to post to get a conversation going, then add the crappy link later.

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