REFERENCE PHOTOS


I like to work from large, high-resolution photos. The higher the reference photo quality, the more detail I can see and recreate on canvas. I actually zoom into my reference photos when I am painting so I can see every hair, whisker, etc. For realism portraits, one good reference photo is all that is needed. However, more than one reference photo will help me notice more of the pet’s features. For cartoon portraits, I will need multiple reference photos showing different angles of the pet. I only accept reference photos by email, and if you have a conventional photograph you may scan it and send the scanned image to me via email.

As far as composition goes, I would prefer to create a painting that is as close to the original photograph as possible, but a few small changes here and there usually work out just fine. You can tell me how you would like the painting to be composed and what changes to the photo, if any, you would like to have made (e.g. change the color of or omit something that is in the photo) and I can tell you if it’ll work out. Or, if you would rather have me decide what is best for the composition, I can certainly do that for you.

I am also willing to paint wildlife using your photo or my own. I have plenty of photos of wildlife taken in my area (lots of birds!) and at zoos, so if you don't have a photo of a particular animal I may be able to provide one.

Below are some examples of reference photos from good to poor (you can click on the photos to enlarge them). If you are looking for an unusual or more artistic and painterly portrait or just a funny cartoon, photos of any quality may work. I'd be happy to hear your ideas!


GOOD REFERENCE PHOTO:

  • Detail: Large, uncropped, high-quality photo clearly shows fur texture, whiskers, etc.
  • Angle: Photo taken from good angle (camera was pointed straight toward subject, not from above). Subject is posing nicely.
  • Lighting: Photo is taken outdoors and shows actual colors. Natural lighting is properly directed toward the front of the subject.
  • Background: Natural and simple. Does not draw attention away from the subject.


MEDIOCRE REFERENCE PHOTO:
 
  • Detail: Fur texture barely visible. Fine for a smaller portrait.
  • Angle: Acceptable. Subject is in a natural, relaxed position.
  • Lighting: Camera flash changes eye color and produces unnatural shadows. Correcting the eye color may result in a portrait that does not capture the pet's expression.
  • Background: Acceptable. Not too busy and only needs to be modified slightly.


POOR REFERENCE PHOTO: 
 
  • Detail: Blurry, low-resolution photo does not show much fur texture. Outline of eyes barely visible.  I would not be able to create a detailed painting using this photo.
  • Angle: Photo is taken from above the subject which is not usually preferred for a portrait.
  • Lighting: Subject is too dark due to backlighting.
  • Background: Too busy and untidy. Would require major changes.


TIPS FOR TAKING PHOTOS OF YOUR PET:
  • Try to take a photo that you would want to hang on your wall, aiming for a nice background, good lighting, and a happy look on your pet's face. :) 
  • Prevent motion blur by taking photos in a well-lit area, but avoid bright light as it may wash out colors.
  • Try to use natural lighting and avoid camera flash.  Indoors near a window or outdoors are the best places to take photos.
  • Direct light towards the front of the subject.
  • Try to fill the frame with the subject to capture the most detail. (Unless you want to put more emphasis on the background)