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So you want to book a commission of your pet, but you are unsure of what makes a good reference photo. Here are some examples of both good and bad reference images.

The reference photo is the most important part of commissioning anyone to do a portrait for you, at the end of the day the final drawing will only ever be as detailed as the original reference image(s) that you supply.

While I would love to accept every photo sent to me there is only so much magic my pencils can do. The only exception being a pet that has earned their wings, in which case I will use you images as a reference for colourings/markings and possibly use other internet images to help with details. However I would only do this if both you and I are happy to go ahead and have discussed the process beforehand.


A good reference example would be a photograph taken on a bright cloudy day, an image where the detail of your pets fur/hair is clear and their eyes are in focus. As beautiful as some images are when taken using ‘filters’ this does not help with the detailed references needed for doing a pencil portrait. You don’t need a fancy SLR camera to take the photos, any smart phone with a decent camera will do. If you’re unsure I am always happy to look through multiple photos and discuss with you which would best suit.


A bad reference on the other hand would be anything that is

  • too dark

  • too far from the camera

  • out of focus

  • an image taken of a photo in a frame

  • your pet not looking at the camera
    (unless that’s what you desire but the eyes and nose are my favourite bits to draw)

I will of course always advise as to what is a good or bad reference when the initial contact is made. Hopefully with everything mentioned above, these tips can help you ‘capture the moment’ or at least find one you’ve already captured.

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