top of page

Custom Artwork: three tips for the perfect reference photo

Have you been thinking about ordering a custom watercolour pet portrait, watercolour house portrait or something-else-portrait? If so, your artist (whether it’s me or someone else!) will likely need a reference photo to work from.

This is ALSO very relevant if you yourself are hoping to paint your own watercolour pet portrait, house portrait or literally-anything-else-portrait!

Erm, so what actually is a reference photo???

A reference photo is simply a photo that the artist looks at and refers to to create their artwork, e.g. if you were wanting a house portrait, you’d send through a photo of the house you want painted.

In the most basic terms, the better the photo = the better the artwork!

I mean of course artists will add their own creative spin, the won’t be COPYING the photo, but as the name suggests, using it for reference, so they can see whether your doggo has a cute spot on their left paw, or whether your house has an adorable letterbox that must be included.

Basically, a well-taken reference photo is the key to having a painting that perfectly captures the character of your house/pet/wedding bouquet/whatever-you’re-having-painted.

Here are a few helpful tips when it comes to selecting your reference photo.

1. Take the photo from front-on. If it’s a house, try and take your photo from front-on, with a bit of front lawn and the entire roofline visible.

If the pic is of a pet, try and get a photo straight on, not above! However, doggos, horses and other long-snouted pets tend to look best if they’re slightly angled, e.g. 45 degrees or so.

2. High-quality photos are essential. No need to go out and buy a fancy camera, or hire a photographer, phone photos are totally fine! Buuuut be sure to send the actual photo and not a screenshot. Low-quality, fuzzy or pixel-y photos mean I can't get as much of the fine details, so please make sure the photo is clear. This allows me/your chosen artist to zoom in and capture all the teeny weeny details, especially when it comes to your home's details, your pet’s markings, those kinds of things.

3. Soft natural lighting. A clear, well-lit photo taken in good light allows me to see colouring and other details easily. Photos taken at night, with lots of shadows, or with a flash don’t give an accurate shot of colours, and may also hide some of those awesome details you want captured!

There you have it, three tips for capturing the perfect reference photo for your custom artwork!

If you want more info about the process, grab my Custom Artwork Design Guide below!


bottom of page