Choosing a Great Reference Photo

I am more than happy to help you pick the best photo to turn into a drawing!

In fact, it's a good idea to send in a few photos so we can choose the best one together, plus it can help me get a sense of the folks I will be drawing. Having multiple photos is a fantastic aid for bringing out each unique personality. 

This is simply a guide to help you narrow down your choices :)

I am sharing with you how I help determine which photographs will make the strongest portraits. As a general rule of thumb remember the photos should be high resolution and nicely lit, preferably using either outdoor or studio lighting. Posed photos are usually very clear and accurate, which is a big plus, but I also let folks know that candid shots showing an authentic laugh or smile are pretty wonderful as well. Whatever you do, just be yourselves!

Meet Xavier and Jess...

Xavier wants to surprise Jess with a Valentine's Day portrait of the two of them and these are the photos he feels shows them at their very happiest together.


Luckily for me, these all have pretty good lighting and are quite clear, so here is how we choose the best of the best:




Example 1:

Both of their smiles are really nice, but Jess looks so much bigger than Xavier, and I think her chin has also been slightly enlarged, due to the camera lens distortion, . 



Be careful when choosing 'selfies' because the person holding the camera almost always has their face or body altered in some way.

Example 2:

I like this shot a lot actually - even though Xavier's arm is 'selfie warped' it's not something I can't correct, and they both have big, natural grins from a fun day of hiking together. (Adventure shots often make excellent portraits!) However, the back-lighting is not ideal. I won't be able to achieve as much contrast in the portrait with back-lit photos, which tends to make the drawing a little less bold and eye catching. 



Outdoor lighting either from the front or side, or even taken in light shadows with a shaded background, works best for giving your portrait that 'pop'!

Example 3:

This photo is pretty good; well lit and clear. However, there is just something about Xavier's smile that seems a little less excited or real than Jess'. Sometimes it's hard to put your finger on what is not quite ideal, but I just feel like I want more from Xavier. He really, really loves Jess with of all his heart, and I want that adoration to shine through. 



If you're not going to use a professional studio shot, go candid! Let's see that love-drunk grin and those smile dimples!




Example 4: Perfect!

I love this photo! It is real, it is authentic, and it is full of adoration for each other - a perfect Valentine's gift! 



Don't be afraid to send in a less-than-serious shot. Often the silly ones pack the most personality:)

The Completed Portrait - Ta daaa!

Jess and Xavier, 11 x 14 inches

The detail and authentic expression I am able to achieve due to having been provided such a great quality photo truly helps to create such a strong portrait. I absolutely adore the natural smile that Jess is giving while Xavier looks as sweet as can be. 


If you notice I make a few slight alterations to help tighten the composition up. For example, I omit the patterning on their shirts as it can look too busy and will draw attention from the more important areas, such as the faces. I also correct Jess' 'selfie arm' as well as deciding to omit her hand. The hand came out a little large in the photo, due to being closer to the camera, and would have forced me to off-center that perfect kiss in order to make room to include it. All in all, the corrections required are minimal which helps maintain the accuracy of the drawing. 


....and spoiler alert - she loves it!!


I hope this guide helps you narrow down which of your photos will make the very best custom portrait drawing!


Feel free to email me at any time for any questions or guidance in creating a super special portrait gift.