Studio Giselle


Pets, babies, children, weddings, mom and dad, granny and grampy and even old uncle Joe; portraits make for a super special gift that will be treasured for a long time.

Painting & Reference photo

~The reference above was taken in bright sunshine making quite a few shadows on the subject giving it a good amount of contrast.


I very much enjoy painting portraits, they're most definitely high up on my list of favorite subjects to paint. In order for me to paint a successful portrait I do need good reference photos if I am not having the subject pose/sit for me. So here are a few tips on taking good photos as references for portrait painting; these of course are my own preferences this may not be the preference of all painters out there.

Strong lighting to create contrast is good to have in portraits; for example anything that creates deep shadows on some areas and very light on others. I have found that one light source in a photo makes for deeper contrasting tonal values. Don't use your flash, it tends to flatten the shapes.

Crisp, clear, in focus...the clearer, higher quality photos I have the more accurate depiction of the subject I will deliver. The more photos I have to look at and choose from the better the chance of me getting to know the subject without actually meeting with them. Rule of thumb, don't send me photos you don't like, chances are quite probable that you still won't like it after I paint it!

Now with all this said, I don't expect professionally photographed subjects, these are just guidelines in case you have not yet acquired a photo of the subject and you're thinking of getting a commission. I'm totally fine with a reference photo that you simply love and that doesn't have the above criteria. These are just my preferences not hard fast rules.

Painting & Reference Photo Ocean Princess

~In the portrait above I added the girl into a beach reference photo and created a dress from other references not shown here.

Pet Portraits

The perfect gift for pet lovers

The same can be said for pet portraits as I mentioned above about people portraits. The higher quality the reference photos the higher quality your portrait will be.

Try looking at professional photos and the more pleasing poses and lighting for ideas for when you take photos of your pets. It's alright though if you just have a photo you adore and would like it reproduced. It is always possible to make changes to the backgrounds, such as removing them altogether or removing unwanted objects etc.

It is much harder to change the pet's expression or pose though so try to take that into consideration when sending me photos to work with.

Here are some examples of the Keepsake boxes I've been painting, over on my Facebook Art Page.

Before & After Reference Photo Bette

~The client wanted a totally different background that would compliment her very adorable blind Cockapoo, Bette in the example above.

Before & After Reference Photo Booffa

~The reference for the above painting was very high def making it very easy to see all the details and color nuances.

Before & After Reference Photo Soft Kitty

~The background was replaced and a toy was added in the above painting.

Before & After Reference Photo Chihuahua Pup

~The reference for this painting had a very busy background which was completely replaced.

Before & After Photo Reference Molly

~The client wanted the leash removed from the photo in the above example.

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