Choosing the right reference photo for your car portrait

When I create digital paintings of vintage cars, it is important to me to portray the beauty of the car (its form). I also want to convey a certain emotion, such as freedom, fun, whimsy, sport, etc. 

Ultimately you know what you like best about your car, but you might not know how best to convey that in a piece of art, so here are a few tips.

The Best Profile

Do you want to include the grill or taillights? Is your car best displayed from the side or a part side-part front view? Take photos of every view. Think about which aspects make your car special. 

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The Best Angle

I often appreciate cars at eye level for two reasons. One- if you take the photo from slightly above, the background  is somewhat limited (to a view of mostly the ground). Two- I think cars look more impressive straight on rather than from above. To achieve this squat down when photographing the car or stand further away.

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That being said, you want to show off your favorite part of the car. As you can see with this Camaro there are nice aspects to both angles. The lower angle (top photo) looks more sporty and "strong" but the angle from above displays more of the hood and interior (but leaves less room for an exciting background).

 

 

The Illusion of Action

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It is best to take a reference photo of a parked car to get good details and have the driver side empty so I can easily draw the interior. That being said, the illusion of some action can be nice. To achieve that, consider turning the wheels at an angle so the car looks less "parked". Also squatting very low and taking a photo looking a bit "up" at the car can give a feeling of action.

Photo Quality

It is important that I can see the details of the car. Blurry or low resolution photos may not work. It is very helpful to be able to see the interior through the windows because I do draw that too.

It is great if you can get the color accurate in the photo, but if you feel the photo conveys the color too blue or not dark enough, etc, you can communicate with me regarding color.

If you sold the car or don't have access to photographing it, contact me. Perhaps we can do some research and find a photo of the same car to use as a reference.

The Background

The background of the photo reference is insignificant. I draw the car first then add a background afterwards. You do not need to provide a reference photo for the background but you can certainly send a few photos if you have an idea of what you want.

Thank you, I look forward to creating a custom portrait of your vintage car or truck soon!

5 reasons pet portraits should be artsy

Artists who specialize in realism are very impressive. I have seen some jaw dropping, amazingly realistic, pet portraits. There are also some spectacular photos of animals taken by very talented fine art photographers. If you want, you can frame these very realistic- exact images of your animal friend and hang it on your walls. But maybe something a bit more impressionistic and artsy suits you!

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5 reasons pet portraits should be artsy:

1) The style of the art contributes to the overall style of the room. Consider the decor and mood you want to create in your home.

2) Different styles of art can influence your mood. My artwork is happy. The colors pop and the textures are whimsical. Happy art can make your day.

3) Interesting art leads to interesting conversations. Have something to talk about with your house guests. 

4) Stylized art can capture the spirit of your animal friend. It isn't about a realistic image of the animal, it is about the individual beauty shining through.

5) You love it! Hey, you don't need a profound reason- maybe you just really art and really love your animal- putting the two together makes sense.

Choosing the perfect reference photo

When I draw pet portraits, I follow the reference photo exactly in terms of the animal's position and expression. (Of course my stylized art adds a flare in terms of texture and color.) It is important to send me a reference photo that truly captures the essence of your animal friend. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a photo reference of your pet:

1) Overall vibe. Are you looking to portray them as playful, wild, peaceful, sweet, intense, etc? Look at photos of your animal and notice which aspect of them is most represented. Is this what you want to come through in the finished work?

My cat Owen can look playful, "insane", or peaceful. 

My cat Owen can look playful, "insane", or peaceful. 

2) Consider the angle of viewing. Are you looking down at the animal? Typically the best reference photo is taken when the camera (person) is eye level rather than standing over the pet. 

Getting down to the rabbit's eye level is much more personable than a photo from above.

Getting down to the rabbit's eye level is much more personable than a photo from above.

There are exceptions to every rule right? I love the shot from above of this pit mix. It captured her perfectly.

There are exceptions to every rule right? I love the shot from above of this pit mix. It captured her perfectly.

3) The crop. It is usually best to have all of the animal's face showing. We can crop it down if artistically warranted, but it is difficult to draw what is beyond the photo. 

This is a super sweet photo of my cat, but it is cropped very tight. It would be better as a reference photo if we had the rest of the head and ears.

This is a super sweet photo of my cat, but it is cropped very tight. It would be better as a reference photo if we had the rest of the head and ears.

4) The quality of the photo is important. I need to be able to zoom in and see details in the eyes and accurate coat color.

Henry to the left has clear, bright, and in-focus features. This is a good quality reference. The center photo is dark but can be lightened and has good features so I could work with it. To the right Henry is dark, blurry and it is hard to determine his coat pattern. This photo would not work as a reference.

Henry to the left has clear, bright, and in-focus features. This is a good quality reference. The center photo is dark but can be lightened and has good features so I could work with it. To the right Henry is dark, blurry and it is hard to determine his coat pattern. This photo would not work as a reference.

When in doubt, email me a bunch of photos and I will coach you on choosing or taking the best reference photo of your animal. If the animal is deceased we will work together to find a photo that I can work from even if the quality is not perfect.

Show Canopy

Well I started my current series of classic car art, Cars with Curves, just about 8 months ago. I can't believe I have finished over 22 pieces! They each take at least 15 hours to draw (not including the time it takes to create the geometric patterns- which is a lot!) 

Now that I created all of these pieces,  it is time to hit the road and sell some art! I decided the best way to start is with a beautiful display. I spent the past month organize framed pieces, ordering the canopy and other display items and putting prints in matts. It was a huge effort. You know what else was a huge effort? Proving to myself that I could set up the canopy with NO HELP and no instructions (for some reason this company does not include any instructions-  minimal info online). So now I know... ask for help, but if everyone says "no" I am strong and I can do it!

Now I am ready for my first shows (car shows and art festivals) starting next week. Keep an eye on my events page as I add more dates. See you out there!

Safe Art for the Bedroom

Choosing art for your bedroom can be tricky. Maybe you want something soft and romantic? Or there are two of you and agreeing on the theme is difficult? After you know what look you are going for, you need to make sure your art is bedroom safe!

If you live in an earthquake zone you know you need safe bedroom art. Some of you might have never thought about it before. The most important art is the piece hanging at the head of your bed. No one wants a heavy picture frame dropping on them in the night! 

Art quilts are a great art choice for above the bed. My Classic Car Art Quilts are soft cotton fabric. Most are hung by a lightweight dowel in a fabric sleeve on the backside of the quilt and will be unlikely to hurt you if they do fall down. If you did not want a dowel other hanging solutions can be utilized in earthquake country too. 

Sleep tight! Love, Dawn