5 Easy Tips to Choose a Photo for your Custom Portrait

by | How To

Commissioning a portrait can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time. But it doesn’t have to be! You may think your snapshot has to be perfectly timed, and purposely taken with your painting or drawing in mind. In reality the best photos are usually the unplanned, spontaneous snaps that truly capture the essence of the subject. You probably already have an amazing photo, perfect for using as a reference and don’t even know it. 


Here are my top 5 suggestions for choosing the right picture to make your artwork the best purchase you’ll ever make.

#1 Digital is King

These days almost everyone has the perfect camera at their disposal. If you have a modern phone, then you have a camera. It doesn’t have to be the highest megapixels, or on the fanciest settings for a beautiful painting. Having a digital photo means you can easily email me a copy and I can get to work painting. If you do happen to only have a printed photo take a few photos of it on a digital camera, or scan the image to get as clear a picture as you can.

#2 Choose a Clear Picture

On that note a clear image is the next tip. Is the photo blurry or grainy? This will make it VERY hard to get clear details to draw from. Was the photo taken from a distance, meaning if zoomed in on the face the details are a blur? Sadly I can only paint what exists in a picture to ensure the finished painting looks like the person or pet. If the face is a blur, then the painting can only be a blur also. On this point it is best if the image for the painting has not been taken from facebook or sent via facebook messenger. Facebook compresses images, meaning it takes away details to make them smaller and more efficient to send over the internet. Unfortunately it’s all those beautiful details which go into making your artwork magnificent. If you can find the original image file, or if it’s a friends, ask them to email it to you, that is best. It’s always worth checking with me if you’re not sure the quality is good enough, sometimes I can make it work 😉

#3 Beautifully Lit

A well lit picture makes for a detailed and realistic drawing. Is the face half in shadow? Is it super bright and washed out? If so it may not be a complete loss, but some features may be harder to capture. If you can see all the finer details then I will be able to as well!

#4 Eyes are the window to the soul.

The eyes are one of the most recogniseable parts of a person; they’re the part of the people we love that we spend the most time looking at. So it’s no wonder that to create the best likeness it’s so, so important to capture the eyes. Try to choose images that are focused on the face and upper body, the parts most important to capture. A close up photo is a much better type of photo to create a detailed portrait from than one taken from a far.

And most importantly…

#5 Make it a photo you love

That is probably the most important part of this whole process. Choose a photo because of how it makes you feel, not because it’s the most perfect or because it’s the only one with all the kids smiling, but looking stiff or bored. Choose a photo that makes you smile, laugh, cry. One that makes you feel every time you look at it. Those are the ones that turn out the best. Those are the ones that turn an artwork into a masterpiece.

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Love what you see? You too can have a precious artwork or gift it to a special someone. Check out my ink and watercolour portraits here and charcoal portraits here. Not sure which would be best? Feel free to shoot me an email hello@nullameliamargaurite.com.au and we can have a chat about it!

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