auto art

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!