Choosing a Reference Photo

Bay horse portrait in pastel

If you already have a favourite photo of your horse this may be the best reference to use as it probably shows your horse’s personality and is a good likeness.

Ideally your photo or photos will be high resolution and clear and taken from head height.

The better the reference photo, the more detail I will be able to see and to add to your portrait giving you a stunning likeness.

If you’re not sure whether your photo is too dark or blurry or if you have several photos to choose from I’ll be very happy to advise.

If you are going to take new photos or have several to choose from you should consider:

Some Helpful Tips

  • Try to take the photo from a short distance away to avoid any distortion of the body or head shape.
  • Don’t worry about flies, mud, untidy manes, the wrong head collar, hay in the mouth etc as I can easily ignore or adjust anything that you don’t want included. Blocks of bright sunlight or shadow can also usually be corrected in the portrait.
  • If your horse changes colour daily (Strawberry Roans! I’m looking at you!) try to get several photos that show the coat variations or let me know which photo you would like me to use for colour accuracy.
  • Experiment with lighting angles to find what suits your subject’s colouring best.
  • If you are having more than one subject in the portrait you can use separate photos but the lighting should be similar, ie. both images taken inside or both outside.
  • A three quarter view of the head is usually better than a straight on view although this is personal preference. The subject does not have to be looking at the viewer and unusual viewpoints can make charming and original portraits.
  • Backgrounds can be changed or removed and often a head and neck portrait can look best with a minimal background.

You can email me several images if you are unsure which would make the best portrait and I can help you choose.

Finding the right reference photo is really important as it needs to show the essence of the subject and it will give me all the information I need to capture the likeness.

pastels art medium

Choosing the Size & Medium

The medium you choose is usually down to personal preference, although I personally think horses look wonderful painted in oils or pastel.

Getting in Touch

Horse & Hound Gallery
95B Main Street
South Yorkshire
S66 2SE
01709 927864