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  • Writer's pictureAmy Elizabeth Fine Art

Pet Portraits from Photos UK- Creating a pet memorial portrait

For Christmas 2020 I was commissioned to create a portrait of 4 dogs, of two dogs that had passed away and two of the owners current dogs. This was to be a surprise gift, arranged by a number of members of the recipients family. I thought it would be a good opportunity to show you the process of creating a pet memorial portrait of a pet that has passed away. Especially as I did not have a huge amount of photos to work from.

I am always pleased when I receive a commission to create a pet memorial portrait, as I feel honoured to be part of the process of remembering a much loved pet. Pets are always a big part of any family and their loss leaves a large hole in our lives. To create a portrait of them, serves as a lovely reminder that can bring back many happy memories.

What photos did I have to create this pet memorial portrait?

I only had a very small selection of photos to work from, as you can see here. This process was made more difficult by the dog in question being a cross breed.

It is easier to find photos of other dogs that are similar looking to add detail. Things like hair direction is exactly the same on dogs that look similar. Say a black labrador, look at the direction of hair around the eyes. Hair in this area changes direction a lot. When drawing a portrait of a dog, the hair direction forms a lot of the shape, turning a 2D image into something that is 3D. You can use the detail that is universal across other dogs to fill in things that are not visible in the photos you have available.

Unfortunately, in the photos I was given, the eyes where not visible due to the use of flash. Luckily, the photo on the right shows the colour of this dogs eyes. Whilst not all the eye is visible, I can see the colour, which will be the same across the whole eye. I could then find an image of another dog in a similar position, with the same colour eyes in order to create that missing detail, whilst it still being true to the dog I was drawing.

Yellow dogs especially, can look very different colours in different lighting conditions. I had a discussion with the clients commissioning this memorial pet portrait, to find out which of the photos was most accurate in terms of his colouring. I initially made his fluffy hair on his ears a little too light, which was easily remedied. It is very important when creating a pet portrait from unclear photos to be in constant communication, to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Below you can see a time lapse video of this pet memorial portrait coming to life! I would love to here your thoughts on it.

You can read more about commissioning a pet memorial portrait here. If you are think of commissioning a pet portrait, memorial or otherwise, why not get in touch.

My name is Amy and I am a pastel pencil pet portrait artist from Derbyshire in the UK. I work entirely from photos sent to me by my clients. I work internationally, and can post to anywhere in the world.


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