top of page

Reference photo tips

My drawings are very detailed. From every highlight, hair to feather. To create this, a good photo is essential. So here are some tips for a good reference photo.

Bailey als pup gemaakt door Rebecca Engels

If you want a wild animal drawn, you can do so with a sample photo you have taken yourself, for example. Don't have a photo of your own? No problem! I will gladly help you find a suitable photo according to your wishes. This can be done from free online stock photos, but in some cases it is best to buy a good photo from, for example. Additional costs of this are for the client.

To create a portrait of your pet, I need good-quality reference photos. I want to make sure that your final portrait is as good as possible and that it accurately reflects your pet's unique personality. Choosing the right photos to work with is an important ingredient to achieve this.

There are several factors to consider when choosing reference photos of your pet. It is important that they reflect your pet's personality. And that the photo is the way you like your pet best. And then there are the technical aspects, which I will explain clearly below. 

If you want a drawing of a photo you have taken, for example of your dog or cat, pay attention to the following points

  • Make sure the photo is sharp. The better the details can be seen, the better I can transfer them to the drawing

  • Make sure there are no hard shadows in, for example, your pet's face

  • Provide a nice pose

  • Whether or not there is a collar, harness or leash

  • More than one animal in your photo


I'm sure your pet has a certain look or expression that melts your heart or makes you laugh. Or that he or she has certain traits you love. It could be his happy smile, her soft eyes or his cute floppy ears. Keep those things in mind when choosing or taking photos of your pet, because those are the photos that will help me capture your pet's true likeness in your portrait.


Exposure is one of the most important factors when photographing your pet. Photos that are too dark or overexposed make it very difficult for me to see all those little details. Try to take photos in natural daylight, then I can see the true colours of your pet's fur. Indoor lighting can sometimes change the colours, so take the photos outside or near a good natural light source such as a large window.


The more details I can see in your photos, the more realism I can incorporate into your portrait. Make sure the photos you send me are high resolution and clearly in focus. In particular, make sure the eyes and direction of the fur are clearly visible. Choose photos taken at a reasonably short distance from your pet. That way you can be sure that your photo captures a lot of detail.

If everything looks very blurry when you zoom in on your photo, it will be hard to work with this one.


Feel free to send me pictures from different angles. This helps me to get an overall picture of your pet. Generally, photos work best when taken at your pet's eye level. This avoids the strange 'big head, small body' perspective you sometimes get when you take a picture while looking down on your pet. 

The specific pose you choose is closely related to your pet's personality. There are many poses that work well for pet portraits. In the end, choose a pose that you feel best reflects your pet's nature and shows off their beautiful features. 


If there are aspects of your chosen photo that I would rather not include in your portrait, please let me know. If you wish, I can usually remove collars, harnesses, leashes and name tags.


If you are very lucky, you might have one photo that perfectly depicts all your pets. In that case, hooray! But usually it is very difficult to capture each pet perfectly in the same photo. Fortunately, I can work with individual photos of each pet to create a combined portrait, provided your photos meet the conditions below.


Make sure the photos of each pet you send me are taken in roughly the same perspective. For example, if you have a photo of a pet taken at floor level and a photo of another pet taken at standing height and looking down, the two photos will not work together in the same portrait. If both photos were taken at floor level, or both at standing height, they would be fine. 


For each pet, try to have the light coming from the same direction. If you have a photo of one pet where the light comes from the right and a photo of another pet where the light comes from the left, it will look a bit strange when you combine it into one portrait.


I always love it when you bring your pets for a photo shoot. I live in Culemborg, Gelderland so if you live nearby, please contact me. I charge a flat rate of €50,- for a photoshoot and I'll even send you a few high-resolution photos by email to keep.

Boefie gemaakt door Rebecca Engels
Bailey als pup gemaakt door Rebecca Engels
bottom of page