Choosing a Photo for Your Pet Portrait

I work from photos for my pet paintings. It is helpful to have 4-5 reference photos to refer to, but I use one main reference photo for the pose.

The main reference photo is of utmost importance and should show your pet in the position you want them painted.

For example if your pet’s body or head aren’t in an ideal position or are cut out of the frame of the picture, I won’t add in body parts or change anatomical details.  For this reason, it’s important you choose a photo where you are happy with the position and pose of your animal. 

Things to look for in a good reference photo:

  • Lighting: Natural daylight works the best. If you can, take pictures near a window or in the shade outside.
  • Height: Since we are taller than our pets, it’s easy to take pictures while looking down at them. To avoid this, get low to the ground and take pictures at the same level as your pet’s eyes.
  • Image quality: Photos should have very clear and sharp views of the eyes, face (and body if it’s a full body pose). Stand close to your pet while taking pictures to improve the detail and quality of the images. Zooming in on a photo taken from a distance will show a grainy picture with no detail. Try to fill in as much of your screen with as much of your pet without cutting off body parts you would like included.

If you want to add more than one pet from different photos, make sure that the eye level and angle of the different pictures are the same. That way they match the plane and angle of each other and look like they belong together.

If you are unsure about your photos, I’m happy to look over what you have and we can work together on options.