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Working with Poor reference photos

Updated: May 8, 2023

Sometimes you have to break your own rules to do the right thing.

I have turned down pet portrait commissions in the past because the reference photos were of such poor quality. However, when a similar situation presented itself and involved someone I consider a friend I knew I had to make it work.

In October my friend Denise's 17-year-old chihuahua Wicket passed away. She was devasted. I was approached by her a few weeks later to create a portrait of him and then her sister contacted me. She thought creating a memorial portrait of Wicket would be the perfect Christmas gift. I was so touched that they chose me to do his portrait.

All the photos they had were extremely dark and made it nearly impossible to capture the detail of the dog. The other feature we had to address was Wicket's eyes which had cataracts. I had to ask the question, did she want me to draw Wicket with cataracts or without? After some discussion, we decided to draw him without cataracts but with grey hair on his head and around his muzzle.

Check out my process page where you can learn how I handle commission work.

Here are my process shots and the final piece of Wicket.

Check out Denise Dion's testimonial.

If you know someone who is looking to get a pet portrait done please send them my way.

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