Reference Photo Quality

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Tips on how to pick your ideal photo for reference 

Whilst realising that finding the ideal reference photo isn't always possible, here are some tips that should hopefully help you in deciding which photo to choose for your portrait. Do not worry if you aren't able to find the perfect reference, by all means please still send what you do have, and I will be able to make an assessment and we can go from there.

  • Good Lighting - Does the subject have good lighting? Too much flash or intense sun can take away the values/shadows in a photo, thus making it difficult for an artist to create detail and form. The same is true of not having enough light or too much shade.
  • Distance - Is your subject too far from the camera? The ideal distance would be close enough to fit only the head and shoulders in the shot. At this range you will be able to see the colour in their eyes, and probably even see the eye lashes. Perfect for catching all those small details. Too far from the camera and it will almost be impossible to capture a true likeness. Many people suggest to crop a distance photo so it looks like the subject is closer. This doesn't change the amount of detail captured in the original file so isn't really beneficial.
  • Cropped - Photos should include all of the subject without any part of them being cropped. 
  • Sharpness - It's very important that the subject is in great focus. Any amount of blur will again, make it difficult to capture detail. Motion shots and old photos normally have a slight blur.

Below are examples of good reference photos...

Pet Portrait Drawings - Shayne Wise Portrait Artist
Portrait Drawing - Shayne Wise Portrait Artist
Portrait Drawing - Shayne Wise Portrait Artist