Anatomy of a Portrait


I’m frequently asked by clients if I can combine photos for a custom portrait. The answer is yes, although there are certain factors to consider. Is the lighting consistent on all photos? Are we looking at the subjects from a similar viewpoint or height?

This happens most frequently when the painting has more than one subject. This particular portrait is of Harry and Georgie, two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

The photo shows the final sketch composition in the upper left–and the three photos that went into making it. One for Harry, the tricolor, and two for Georgie — one for her face and one for her body.

To complicate matters a bit further, I needed to remove the harnesses for both dogs, and significantly open up the darkness is Harry”s photo. I also needed to compensate for the extreme brightness of the light areas.

I put all these images together in Photoshop in a series of layers to see how I could make them fit. I also created the green background art on a layer as well and added shadows. I then drew a pencil sketch of the whole composition, adjusted the cropping, and put the whole thing into a single image for the client to approve.