Animal Artist ~ Diane Young

Every Picture tells a story – realistic and stylised animals in art from Manic Illustrations


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Pet Portrait Photo Difficulties.

My portfolio of dog portraits is slowly but surely expanding.

I have taken on a couple of portfolio exercises to get a proper feel for the difficulty rating. They are:

a) a photo which does not have all the pictorial information because the resolution is too low and

b) a photo which is in itself not a great composition but it is the only photo we can get. These are situations a pet portrait artist may find themselves in and with these problems in mind they will then have to decide whether a successful pet portrait will be the outcome.

a) This is Amber.  Most of the photo could be enhanced using the contrast tool to get more information for reference. This worked for all but the eyes.  This was the most challenging and time consuming of my two examples.  I had to make up the eyeDog photo showing Gooner for Pet Portrait Painting by Diane YOung reference material, or cross reference it elsewhere.  This meant it became time consuming and a fiddle mucking about with the “lost” information.  The eyes are the most important focal point (apart from the muzzle also in a dog) and not succeeding in making them look “right” or more to the point “convincing” would spell disaster for the whole painting.  One other point about this photo is the position of the tail gives a very long slim shape to the overall composition and so it was much better to take the important head area instead where there are alot of dynamic shapes to keep the picture interesting.

b) This is Gooner, obviously an older dog, which you can tell by the expression and posture.  The overall shape is not very dynamic and more of an overall circular outline, not the best shape to use for a picture composition.  This painting is taking  much less time on accounDawn Mcniff Gooner 2t I hav all the necessary information in front of me.  I took the liberty of using artistic licence to move the eye gaze so that the image was more engaging. Everything is in place and the painting is almost finished.

Below are the results of my endeavours:

Amber is completed

Gooner to the right is still work in progress.

Pet Dog Portrait Animal Painting by artist Diane Young         dog portrait by artist diane young

There are times when another factor comes into play and that is when the pet owner has produced the only photo they have of their dog and it is just like the Amber example above.  Perhaps this might persuade you as a pet portrait artist to take on the commission.  Of course all these things can be discussed at the outset with the pet owner giving you the commission perhaps with deposit for work up front and other caveats would help mitigate any disaster!

My conclusion is that not having all the information is extremely time consuming and the outcome is not certain. It is up to the Pet Portrait Artist to determine the risk!