Is there some software out there that will display a reference photo at thumbnail size in a stay-on-top window? I think I heard some artist mention using something like that whenever they do commissions, but I forget what it's called.

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@kobi_lacroix not sure if I understood your use-case right, but a resizable frameless/windowless view is a feature you could find in e.g. image viewer
alternativeto.net/software/nom

It's and available for win+gnu/linux. In addition, you might wanna check out and

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