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Want me to paint a portrait based on a photo?

- Here is what you need to know

A portrait painting is a collaboration between the customer and the artist. Therefore it is important that we establish a dialogue. As the photo you are sending me is what my painting is based on, it needs to fulfill some requirements. Please read the following text carefully before sending me a photo and don't hesitate to ask for clarification.

What to decide before choosing or taking a photo

1. Abstract or realistic?

The less detailed your reference photo, the less detailed the painting. Smartphone photos, especially selfies, can only be used for abstract paintings (unless you have an excellent smartphone camera of course). The quality of the painting is limited by the quality of the photo. If the photo has a lot of noise I have to do a lot of guessing when it comes to the details.

Here is an example for a watercolour painting based on a Smartphone photo

As you can see, the person is clearly recogisable but the reflection in the glasses and the slightly blurry photo made painting the eyes a challenge. I didn't add many details to the face, which is just fine for this slightly abstract watercolour style. If you wanted a photorealistic oil painting or pencil drawing, this wouldn't be the reference photo  to choose.

2. Size

If you already know where the painting will be displayed, this is a good place to start thinking about the size (and also the colours). How big is the wall and how far away from it can you stand to look at the piece? A larger painting looks better from some distance. Unless you want to make a statement, I would not recommend getting a portrait with a head larger than life size. This means up to size A3 for a child portrait and slightly larger for an adult or if you want more than one person to be in the same painting. The smaller I have to paint the faces, the more details get lost. Have a look at the sizes and formats of the paintings in my portfolio to get an idea what you might like. Please get in touch if you are unsure which size to choose.

3. Medium


Acrylic or oil:

Pencil drawing:

3. Subject?

If you decide to go ahead and commission a portrait, it is best if we chat about your idea in terms of style, background and so on. You can look at my portfolio and let me now if you like one of the paintings particularly or send me something like a moodboard to give me a feeling for what you are expecting.  If you are unsure which pose will work, we can chat about that too.  It is always  a good idea to send me several photos so we can choose the most suitable one together.

This is a painting, so there are options to add, alter or remove things (within reason).

Fancy a painting of you and your dragon, for example? No problem:


Obviously there are cost and time considerations related to the above points.  Pencil portraits are fast for me to complete. Watercolour takes a little longer, depending on how realistic you want the painting to look, acrylic is about the same and oils take the longest of all because of the long dryig time. They are the most expensive option. If you need a portrait really quickly, your best bets are a pencil drawing or abstract watercolour.


If you live close by it is best if I can take my own reference photos and talk to the person to get a feelig how best to paint them. I am wiling to travel, if you are covering the travel expenses.

This is the process from start to finish:

1. You contact me with your idea (or questions), ideally sending me photos

2. We work together to find the best reference photo and I send you a quote

3. If it is a larger or more complicated work, you send me a 50% non refundable deposit

4. I send you photos as the portrait progresses. If you want me to alter something, these are your chances to let me know. The longer you wait to let me know that you want a certain change, the more complicated it will become and might at some point be no longer possible (for example watercolour makes changes that require removing something almost impossible)

5. When you are completely happy you can send the payment and I’ll send your painting or drawing to you


 Usually I will complete the portrait within 2 weeks after you commissioned it

Taking the photo

  •  Natural light is best  (like from a window)

  • Taking photos outdoors is good, but avoid bright sunlight which will produce strong shadows and also tends to make people squint. Better is an overcast sky. You will still have more light than inside.

  • Try to get light from one side only; If you have two subjects in one portrait always make sure that the light hits the subjects on the same side even if you take the pictures separately, and I compose them into one painting.

  • If you don't want a full body portrait, please zoom in. I don’t need to see further down than the waist and the closer up on the face, the better. Don't cut off the top of their head.

  • Don’t worry about the background, I will make one up anyway

  • Especilly with children, try to catch them when they aren’t expecting it – you can get  really natural, relaxed images that way.  Or if you already have a suitable photo,  feel free to email it over to me and I can let you know if it will work.

  • In order to get a close likeness to a subject that I haven’t met, I make a very close copy of one particular photograph. However I also try to capture their character as much as I can and therefore it’s always helpful to see more pictures to get a really rounded impression both of their appearance and personality. These don’t have to be good quality as they are just for my reference.

Some final things to know

  • I can't change an expression. I can slightly turn up or down the corners of someone’s mouth, but I can’t turn a solemn expression into a smile, whilst trying to maintain a likeness at the same time. Before I begin, think about whether the photo you have chosen represents the subject as you would like.

  • Deposit:  when the commission is placed I require a deposit of 50% of the quoted fee, unless it is a vey small piece. This deposit is non-refundable once painting starts. The balance becomes due when the portrait is finished, and is to be paid when the painting is delivered, or in advance of delivery if the painting is to be shipped.

  • Deadlines: If there is a special date or an important deadline to take into account  please talk to me in the initial stages about your requirements.  Christmas, Mothers Day or Valentines Day for example are very busy periods and I need as much notice as possible.

  • Payment:  Would ideally be through PayPal,  if we do not live in the same area.  I can accept  International transferrals, but these would need to be cleared in advance of commencing the portrait, which can add a considerable amount of extra time to the transaction.

  • Shipping:  For work not able to be delivered personally – All work is shipped protected from surface damage and very well packed. Rolling up a painting will only happen upon request or when the painting is large. You may choose standard or priority shipping and this will be quoted in advance. 

  • Studies: If you are interested in purchasing the working studies /sketches let me know in advance so that I can quote you. I am quite willing to let these studies go to the commissioner at a very reasonable price.

  • Copyright:  Copyright of the work I produce remains mine to use for promoting my work in the press etc.  My artwork cannot be reproduced or used for any purposes, by anyone else without my written permissions.



In the end it depends on your specific request of course, but here are some standard sizes, without any major elements changed or added by me, to give you a rough idea.

Prices are based on size and medium.

Shipping costs are not included, they depend on where you live.


  • A4: 60€

  • A3: 100 €


Acrylic on Canvas

  • 40 x 60 cm: 120 €

  • 60 x 80 cm: 160 €


Pencil drawing:

  • A4 : 40€

  • A3 : 80€

Abstract or Realistic?
Overview commissioning process
Taking a reference photo
Some final things to know
Get a Quote

Thanks for inquiring!

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