Commissioning a Portrait FAQs

These are the questions I am often asked. I hope the answers provided help you to fully understand the process, but please do contact me directly if you have a specific question that I have not answered here!

Do you need to meet my pet?  Do you paint them from life?

I work from your photographs in order to achieve a detailed likeness. I love nothing better than drawing from life but I find it more practical and more affordable to my customers to work from photographic reference because animals seldom sit still for long!  Working from photographs helps me to achieve a more detailed, realistic likeness than would be practical from live observation from a moving animal.  I have produced a guide here to help you send me the ideal photographic reference.  I accept these by email to  I recommend sending at least three photos from different angles. You can send me a video on facebook or WhatsApp! These are very helpful to get to know the character of your pet!

Rhodesian Ridgeback line drawing
Life Drawing – Sleeping Puppy!

What kinds of animals do you Paint?

I specialise in animal illustration and enjoy drawing animals of all shapes and sizes.  I have painted bespoke portraits of horses and dogs as well as the odd sheep or cockatiel!

How much will it cost? What is included?

Please email your pet photographs and I will make a quotation based on your specific requirements. 

This will depend upon factors such as your choice of medium, the size of the portrait, the number of animals portrayed, whether or not you require extra details or a background, overall complexity (how complex planning the composition will be).  Prices do not include framing, which is not a service I currently offer.

The price quoted will be the price you are required to pay (plus postage) provided that you do not require changes to the brief requiring extra work in the course of the process, e.g. adding a dog or a landscape (in this case I would first email you for confirmation of your acceptance of any price increase and will inform you if such changes are possible).

If you are unhappy with the finished work, limited alterations will be included where reasonable and practical to meet your expectations.  Please click here for an idea of prices.  Please note that a deposit is payable in order to secure your booking.

How long will it take?

This will depend on the time of year, the complexity of your particular commission and my workload and will vary from a week to 2 months.  I will give you an estimated time when I make a quotation.  Please contact me to discuss a rush order. Portraits will not be commenced until the deposit is paid to secure the booking.  

If you have an important deadline, please notify me the date you require the item when placing your order and, if I can confirm this deadline in writing, unless there are factors outside my control which prevent me from doing so, I will have the portrait completed and posted to you by this date.  To date, I have never missed a deadline as customer satisfaction is so important to me!

Can you paint a picture of a deceased pet?

Yes, provided I have adequate photographic reference of the animal.  I realise that your choice of photos may be limited so please send me what you have and I will let you know if the images are clear enough to work from.

Can you include a background?

Yes, I am happy to paint a background.  This will normally incur an additional fee, depending on the level of detail required.  The total cost would, of course, be agreed with you in advance.  The price would fairly reflect the added time required to plan, draw/ paint the picture and any additional material costs incurred in order to create the background.  

Can you include additional elements, such as my dog’s favourite toy, bed, etc.?

Yes, I am very happy to do this if you supply photographic reference giving sufficient information, such as size of object next to pet.  Additional cost may apply depending on the level of detail and added complexity, e.g. a detailed rug, chair or tartan bed.  I will notify you of cost in advance and discuss your budget and requirements.

watercolour dog portrait
Quinn the terrier, informal watercolour dog portrait with his dinner bowl!

Can you include more than one animal within the painting?

Yes, provided that I have adequate reference.  The practicality of this will depend on the size you require.  You may need to order a larger painting to accommodate this and I will make a quotation based on the minimum size I feel is appropriate and the time associated with drawing each subject.

I want a portrait of more than one pet. Do all the animals need to be within the same photograph?

No, in most instances I can include all of the chosen subjects within one composition using separate pictures.  I do reserve the right to charge more if I foresee that this will involve extra time and difficulty to plan, e.g. such instances where I have to consider the relative scale and positioning of each animal and adapt the perspective, which can be tricky.  I will notify you if I foresee a problem with the poses of each subject working as a group, or issues with perspective, and I may require extra reference.   I will require extra information, such as relative sizes, if the animals are in separate photos and cannot accept liability for inaccuracy or delays completing the final piece if information is not given in good time or is insufficient.  I can also produce separate smaller studies to be framed within one picture.

Do portraits include framing?

Framing is not provided and prices are exclusive of this.  I may offer framing services in the future.  I recommend using the services of a professional framer who will use acid free materials.

What happens if I change my mind or I do not like the portrait?

As bespoke items, portraits take many hours of my time and, since are made to your specific requirements, they may not have the same value to someone else whose pet looks totally different.  If I take on your portrait, I may not be able to accept someone else’s commission. Bespoke items are not refundable under normal trading laws.  However, I do want you to be happy with your purchase so I will make alterations where reasonable and possible and do offer a limited returns policy for further reassurance. Please see my specific terms for details of this.

Can you made my pet look younger/slimmer than it does in the reference photograph?

Yes, provided I have adequate photographic reference from other sources or other relevant information in sufficient time.

What medium do you work in?

I am very used to working in different media.  Every medium has it own qualities and people tend to have preferences as to which they prefer.  Watercolour looks fresh and simple, whilst acrylics have a more traditional feel.  I have produced a quick guide here to give you an idea of the differences.

What sizes do you offer?

I normally work from size A4 to 16 x 20″ for one pet, though I can work larger if required.  It goes without saying that a larger portrait allows for a more detailed painting and a full-body portrait executed on a small scale will need to be less detailed than a larger painting of the animal’s head. Equally, if the painting is to feature more than one subject, you will need to consider a larger painting to enable me to achieve a detailed likeness.  

Small drawings and paintings are available as a series of character sketches, from size A5.  This size would not allow for a very detailed painting.  I recommend a minimum of A4 for a more detailed single animal portrait head and at least A3 for two heads.  Including the whole body would require a larger size.  I will advise you on the minimum size for your needs if you are on a budget.