Choosing a Reference Photo

Black labrador dog pastel portrait

If you already have a favourite photo of your dog or pet this may be the best reference to use as it probably shows your dog’s personality and is a good likeness.

Ideally your photo or photos will be high resolution and clear and taken from head height.

The better the reference photo, the more detail I will be able to see and to add to your portrait giving you a stunning likeness.

If you’re not sure whether your photo is too dark or blurry or if you have several photos to choose from I’ll be very happy to advise.

If you are going to take new photos or have several to choose from you should consider:

Some Helpful Tips

  • Take the photo from the same level as the subject and from a short distance away to avoid any distortion of the body or facial shape. Photos of dogs taken from above can make the nose look too big and the legs too small.
  • Don’t worry about ‘red-eye’ as I can easily correct this in the portrait. Blocks of bright sunlight or shadow can also usually be corrected in the portrait.
  • If your dog’s coat looks different colours in different lighting try to get several photos that show the coat variations or let me know which photo you would like me to use for colour accuracy.
  • Experiment with lighting angles to find what suits your subject’s colouring best.
  • If you are having more than one subject in the portrait you can use separate photos but the lighting should be similar, ie. both images taken inside or both outside.
  • A three quarter view of the head is usually better than a straight on view although this is personal preference. The subject does not have to be looking at the viewer and unusual viewpoints can make charming and original portraits.
  • Backgrounds can be changed or removed and often a head and shoulder portrait can look best with a minimal background.

You can email me several images if you are unsure which would make the best portrait and I can help you choose.

Finding the right reference photo is really important as it needs to show the essence of the subject and it will give me all the information I need to capture the likeness.

Choosing the Size and Medium

The medium you choose is usually down to personal preference, although I personally think dogs look wonderful painted in oils or pastel.

Getting in Touch

Horse & Hound Gallery
95B Main Street
South Yorkshire
S66 2SE
01709 927864