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Before submitting order please read our Photo Reference Guide

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Portrait Pencil Drawing - Photo reference guide & tips

Just about everything that makes a great pencil portrait drawing is a good photo reference or multiple references. We suggest choosing photos that best display subjects personality & features. Something unique, quirky or even cheesy create brilliant pencil drawn portraits.

Using More than one image

Multiple references are great also we can combine photos to create group drawings of multiple subjects, however, we suggest being mindful when doing this best method is to find images that have similar perspectives and lighting. (It looks kinda odd, somewhat disjointed if they don't match up)

Removing details, adding details

During the process of the drawing we can also remove or add certain details you may wish to take out of the photo or something added or changed. (remove necklace, add a different background, remove leashes on pets etc)  Make sure you describe what you would like done in the brief so we can best decide how to use the photos supplied. Again be mindful of perspectives and lighting.

Original Portrait - pencil portrait drawingsDog Portrait Drawing - Pencil portrait drawing

What to look for when choosing reference photos

Good contrasting photos with natural light source casting nice shadows of the subject work the best. Close-ups and focused photos (not blurry) enable us to gain a lot of detail within our pencil portrait drawings, that and a having a high-resolution image all help better represent in the final piece. We'll go as far as drawing skin pores, peoples unique wrinkles etc if it's something that will enhance the overall drawing within our detailed realistic pencil drawings.
High-quality full resolution photos help a lot when doing the finer details enabling us to zoom into certain details, we can only do so much with a poor quality photo and if that's all you have we may suggest getting a sketch rather than a detailed drawing. If unsure just contact us and we'll suggest the better option on the photos, you've supplied.

Digital Proofing

We can and do apply photo corrections and edit photos using Photoshop and other drawing applications to achieve an overall better result come time to draw. When ordering the detailed portrait drawing you will receive a digital proof of how your drawings will look like regarding lighting, shading, and composition.

We find doing a digital proof and correct things with you during earlier stages rather than during drawing or after drawing process. Drawing on paper and erasing with many changes will damage the fibers of the paper which neither I nor you would like. That's why we like to start digital then finish with a handmade pencil drawing.

Original - Pet Dog Pencil Portrait Drawing Dog portrait drawing - Pet Dog Pencil Portrait Drawing

Rather us check the images?

Just remember better the reference photo is, better detailed the result will be. Your satisfaction is important to us if any of this confuses you? or unsure of the photos quality contact us, we'll check them out and help you choose before you even commit to an order. 

Custom detailed portrait drawings of people, pets and animals. Dog portrait drawing

With our custom detailed portraits we go the extra mile to ensure we create your portrait with the ultimate in permanence using acid free, archival 100% cotton paper. High-quality cotton fiber paper is known to last hundreds of years without appreciable fading, discoloration, or deterioration when treated carefully following certain standards.

With sketch drawings we use a variety of quality acid free papers depending on variant selections made in the brief.

Most papers eventually break down over a period of time varying depending on how & what's been used to make it. Lucky for you everything we use to create your portrait are top artist grade, acid free materials including the archival storage sleeve your portrait gets shipped & stored in.

So now that we have do everything we possibly can to ensure the longevity of your artwork. There's just a few things I feel are worth mentioning and some tips about keeping your portrait drawing in pristine condition.


Environment plays a big role in the longevity of your artwork. Light, heat and humidity all have its effect on paper. Too low a humidity can cause paper brittleness, and too high a humidity increases the chance of mold. The lower the storage temperature of paper, the longer it lasts.

It’s said the life of paper is doubled with every decrease of 12°C. Sunlight and ultraviolet light can also cause fading and brittleness. When there’s temperature & humidity fluctuations, over time this weakens the paper causing it expand and contract breaking down paper fibers.

Most of these things are unavoidable in most real life situations but worth keeping in mind when deciding a place to display your portrait. I’d suggest avoid displaying anywhere that's likely to get direct sunlight and avoid wet areas such a bathrooms and kitchens where temperature & humidity are most likely to fluctuate.


Drawings are best suited framed & sealed behind glass, hinged correctly allowing enough air and room so the fibers in the paper to naturally expand and contract limiting damage to the artwork. When complimenting artwork with matting boards and frames it adds to the overall presentation and value of artwork, colored mats & framing material are a personal choice. I suggest knowing beforehand where it’s going to be on display and what you wish to achieve in that overall space before jumping into any ole frame.

<Realistic Dog Portrait Drawing Custom Portrait Drawing Pet Portrait DrawingIf you want the best solution I strongly suggest getting artwork framed by a local professional framer this way the correct archival standards should be upheld when requested. However professional framing option isn’t cheap and it is possible to do it yourself keeping in mind all materials that touch the artwork should be Acid Free if not archival if possible. This includes mounting boards, tapes, matts, glues, adhesives etc.

There are a few cheap DIY solutions such as buying Ikea frames and swapping out mdf backing boards with acid free foam board, buying pre cut acid free window matting online to fit the frame etc.

Just be aware vast majority of these frames that can be bought in larger chain stores usually don’t follow any archival standards to prevent acidic materials leaching into your artwork which will over a period of time causes the paper to yellow and degrade even when the artwork is done on 100% cotton paper.

Touching Artwork

Tempting as it may be touching the artwork when removing it from its archival storage sleeve is not recommended, we strongly suggest not removing it from the archival storage sleeve until you’re ready to frame. Even though the portraits are sprayed with workable fixative giving it a multiple layers of protection that helps prevent accidental smudging by locking graphite on the paper, it’s still not enough protection from our hands. Our skin have natural oils which can in time also cause damage to the drawings.

If you must remove it from its sleeve to frame etc please take care doing so. I’d simply recommend removing jewellery washing hands clean of any chemicals and oils & made dry prior and only touch the outer edges of the paper when positioning it in place. Many professional framers when handling artworks will use clean cotton or polymer gloves.

Customer Reviews

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Portrait Reviews

55 reviews
Watercolour Pet Portrait

Absolutely stunning portrait. My aunt lost her beloved dog a day before I gifted this to her, so it was extra special. She absolutely loved it. Great service and communication throughout the ordering process.

Great digital print!!!

Amazing print. Vibrant colours
Fast and professional!

Amazing finish. I got a beautiful picture created of a friends dog who had recently passed away. She was to happy with the result. Thank you so much!!


Fast and absolutely perfect. Thank you


Will be the perfect Christmas present looks amazing