How to Choose a Reference Photo for Pet Paintings

It’s quite a task to choose a select few pictures you’ve taken of your pet when ordering a pet painting. If you’re anything like me, you probably have hundreds! Do you want to choose the one where your pup is wearing a bandana or the one where he is posing with his tongue out?

Here’s the secret - You can choose BOTH!

Yes I can combine photos to make a cohesive composition, in fact I prefer having a nice selection of photos to reference from!

What makes things difficult is when there is only one photo to reference, and if the reference photo isn’t the best… it makes the process a little tricky.

Here’s what NOT to send for a pet commission:

These are a few photos of my pal Winston, he’s a handsome boy but unusual angles and close cropping don’t help showcase that.

Of course it would be possible to make these photos into a painting, but they’re not ideal. The painting will be a lot like the photo it’s referenced from though. Here’s why:

  1. If the angles are not straight on, the pet’s proportions are off and may look like a different size than in reality

  2. Blurriness makes the details like fur and facial features harder to paint accurately

  3. Filters that are unnatural looking can be tricky in getting the colors exactly right. Also if you want only your pet in the painting, don’t send a selfie with your dog unless they are in the majority of the photo.

  4. If the photo is too zoomed in or cropped, I can’t see what the rest of the pet’s body looks like

Now here’s some examples that are just right:

It is so helpful to have photos of the whole pet from nose to tail! No harsh filters, strange angles or zoomed in cropping!

Again, it’s always possible to paint portraits with lower quality photos. However it’s good to set ourselves up for the best results!

I hope this blog helps inspire you to choose a variety of photos to send to your pet portrait artist, I can say with confidence they’ll do a little happy dance when they see your adorable reference pics!