The better the quality of the supplied images, the more successful the final painting will be.

Please supply a selection of good quality photographs:
– Very important to show lots of detail in the face, but especially the eyes.
– Natural lighting – either outside or by a window (eg. patio) or a naturally well lit space.
– Consider how the final painting might look in relation to the images you supply.
– The better the quality of the supplied images, the more successful the final painting will be.

1. Natural lighting is preferable

– Try to take photos in natural lighting, either outside or by a window or somewhere inside that gets a lot of natural light.
– Natural light avoids the need for a flash, which is too harsh and can result in red eyes, which noone wants, unless you own one of the Baskerville hounds!
– A natural light source is good for very dark and very light coloured animals. If the animal is looking towards the light then it will produce good highlights in the eyes and nose. It should also help to highlight the fur detail as well as the shape of the head and body (if included in shot).

2. Pose/composition…

– Our pets are usually at a lower level to ourselves, and so the tendency is to take photos pointing down. This isn’t always a bad thing as you can get a shot with bright, eager eyes and perky ears as your pet looks up to you with anticipation. However, for a standard head portrait, it’s a good idea to get down to eye level with your pet. The final painting will probably be hanging at eye level, so it feels natural for the eyes of the portrait to also be at eye level.
Look at your photos and try to imagine how that shot would lend itself to a painting on your wall.
– If you have access to a digital camera then take a good number of photos. This increases the chance of finding a great (possibly unexpected) image.
Outdoors – Good chance of getting interesting expressions from your animal, especially dogs, as the promise of a treat or a game can make them alert and hopefully momentarily still!
Indoors – As long as there is good light, interior shots are not out of the question and I think it’s nice to capture your pet relaxing or poking about in their favourite spot. Interior details can add to the ‘story’ and character of your pet. It can be nice to keep in these settings rather than painting a generic coloured background.
Try different tactics – Command your pet to sit with the promise of a treat, but get someone else to call your pet’s name. There might be a nice expression as the dog turns its head to follow the call, but won’t actually move its body because of the magnetic pull to the enticing treat.
– Pets can have amazingly expressive faces, so think about capturing an emotion, whether anticipation, relaxation, even guilt! You may have to be patient, but you know your pet better than anyone, so will know the right time of day to capture its personality.
If the commission is for more than one animal in one painting, it may be a challenge to get the perfect shot of them together. It might happen, but if not, different photos can be composited together to create one final composition, although the photos need to be from the same height/angle and the same lighting. A shot of the animals together will be necessary to serve as reference to show scale to one another.

3. Camera…

– Keep your pet fully in the frame. Try not to crop off any detail.
– If you want a full length painting of your pet, then get as much as you can in one shot. But also supply a close up shot of your pet’s face for reference.
– Get close to the subject and fill your viewfinder as much as possible. This is the best way to ensure the most information is captured.
– The further away the subject is, the less information of the subject is captured and there won’t be enough detail in the resulting photo. You can zoom in, but there are 2 things to be aware of…
(i) A digital image is made up of pixels/little dots of info.
If your camera has a ‘digital zoom’, as you zoom in, the NUMBER of pixels/dots won’t increase, but the SIZE of the pixels will. So, although you may have zoomed in to fill your viewfinder with the subject, the resulting image won’t be sharp. Detail will be soft and blurry. You haven’t increased the amount of information. So if you have a digital zoom, then get physically close to your subject.
(ii) If your camera has an ‘optical zoom’, this acts as a true zoom lens, which means that when you zoom in to the subject, the pixels will always remain the same size. In effect you gain much more information and a much more detailed photo.

4. Mobile Phone Photos…

– Please be wary of an image that looks good on your mobile phone screen, because it will potentially be soft focus when zoomed in. When I view these images on a computer they are usually lacking in sufficient detail for me to work from. I have worked from mobile phone images but it is more difficult and more time consuming, which could affect the price.

5. Things To Consider…

– Please don’t supply images that have taken by a professional photographer, unless you have their permission for me to work from them. I wouldn’t want to infringe on the photographer’s copyright.
– Email images at the original size. If you can, set your camera to the highest resolution, ideally 300dpi (dots per inch). General email may struggle to send multiple high resolution images as the file sizes will be large. Check out www.wetransfer.com which offers a free and very easy file transfer service.

Not sharp and too dark. Not enough detail.

Good natural lighting. Lovely sharp detail in the eye, face and ears.

Back lit image. No highlights in the eyes and no real definition in the face and body.

Same cat, same location, but by taking the shot from a slightly different position, the lighting is now highlighting the fur and face. Eyes are bright and clear and face defined. This is really important with a dark coloured animal.

Too blurry and composition too messy.

Same dog, same location but sharper and has captured a lovely expression. It is not perfect but there is potential to isolate the head and simplify the background.

The camera has focused on the dog’s back and not the face. It is not impossible to use this image but it would be more tricky and time consuming and could affect the quote.

Eyes are lovely and sharp with good colour and highlights. The nose isn’t quite in focus but it’s possible to work with this image. The eyes are the most important aspect.

Poor quality phone image. Dog too far away. No information to work from when zoomed in.

Poor quality. Too dark. Not enough detail.