fine art pencil pet portraits by commission

Portrait Process From Start to Finish

If you would like to know more about the commissioning process you have come to the right place. It can be daunting faced with lots of decisions to make when commissioning a portrait. From deciding which photos to use, choosing a full body or head study portrait, the size of the portrait. Plus there is the framing to think about. Hopefully the page below will give you confidence to know exactly what you are looking for. I can help you every step of the way and you are more than welcome to contact me at any time if you need to ask anything.


Your photos and the mockup

The first step is to find or take photos of your pet that you feel really capture their personality and character well. If you need help taking photos I have a photography tips page which you might find useful. Treats always come in handy! The majority of my clients are strewn far and wide around the globe, however I do work with clients closer to home. If you are able to bring your pet to my studio, I can take photos of them free of charge. The kettle is always on and I love meeting my clients and subjects. If you have a horse you would like drawn I can travel within a 50 mile radius of my studio. Once you have taken your photos, visit my contact page and email me with your ideas.

I am using a live commission on this page as an example. It was a drawing of a beautiful cat called Tyson for a client based in the USA called Kim. As you can see in the image below, Kim had one particular photo she loved of Tyson which she emailed, along with the request of a 12" x 10" portrait.

I created a mock-up to show Kim how the portrait could look without the background, in greyscale, which you can see below the main photo. I often create mock-ups for clients so they can see how the portrait could look. This can be useful if you are having multiple studies within the same portrait.

Pet Portraits Process


I then email the mock-up with a confirmed quote and follow it with a secure invoice to make the deposit of £200. Once the mock-up has been agreed and payment has been made, the mock-up will be placed into my commissions list which is a private page for my clients to view. As soon as you are nearing the top of the list I will drop you a line with the good news that I am about to start and email a final invoice with payment link. This is safe and secure personalised to you. I use Worldpay as my payment provider and I accept all forms of payment including debit and credit card along with American Express. I also accept bank transfers.

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The Final photos

Once the drawing is complete I email you a final photo to see whether you need any tweaks made. I always take photos of it on our plan chest. I include my pencils as this allows clients to see the drawing in more detail and also see the scale with my pencils resting on it. These are then displayed in my 'in detail gallery' and on our Blog. If the drawing is for a surprise and you would prefer it not to be published online until after the special date, just let me know.

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Choosing Your Frame

Once the portrait is completed you have the option of having our framer frame the portrait, or taking the drawing to your own local framer. It is advisable to have your pencil drawing framed by a professional framer, using a mount / matt under glass. I use a wonderful framer called Amanda and she has so much choice in her frame shop. There is something to suit all tastes and styles of home décor. If you let me know the style of frame you like, we can send you photos of frames and mounts / matts to choose from.

Kim, (Tyson's owner) asked if she could have a distressed style frame. Initially we sent over some natural wood and dark wood distressed frames that you can see in the photo below left and centre. Kim however, was looking for something lighter in colour. We then send over a range of lighter tones and we both loved the second mouding from the top in the photo on the right.

Pet Portraits Process

Kim wondered if an orange mount / matt might work, to reflect Tyson's colour. Amanda took photos of the chosen moulding against various mounts / matts to choose from. It was clear when we looked at them that the Hayseed and Pale Grey combination on the left would work best for both the drawing and the moulding which Kim agreed with. Once the frame choice has been agreed, I then send a personalised payment button to cover the cost of the frame and the extra for shipping.

Pet Portraits Process


Tyson Framed

Here is a close up of the frame and mount / matt combination that Kim chose using the Windsor Wash. You can see the quality of the frames just by looking at the photos below, however what you cant get from the photo is the feel of them. The exude quality. When you hold them in your hand, you know that you have a superior product. I cant stress enough how important the frame is for the artwork. I have come across a number of artists work over the years which have been framed in low quality frames that don’t do the artwork justice. Using my framer is optional, if you are using a framer locally to you, see if you can go by recommendation or call into their frame shop to see samples of their work. The final photo in this section below shows the back of the frame, complete with hanging string ready to be displayed.

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Packing your portrait

Once the portrait has been framed, the next stage is packing. it takes a number of hours to pack a portrait, particularly if the drawings and frames are on the large size. My portraits travel far and wide from the UK to Hong Kong, USA and Australia etc. So they need to be packed extremely well for their journey. I start by protecting the portrait by wrapping it in artists cellophane as you can see in the photo below.

Pet Portraits Process

I use specialist packaging to protect the edges of the portrait. This is really important as if the portrait lands awkwardly while being shipped, this sturdy yet spongy packing will bear the brunt of any falls. We use two different types and sizes of packaging, one corner protector and similar to this one but for larger mouldings, which fits around the edge of the entire frame.

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The next layer is to reuse the packaging the frame was wrapped in from Amanda our framer. We are all for recycling and reusing here in the studio and Amanda usually uses small bubble, bubble wrap which gives good protection.

Pet Portraits Process

We then add some of our foam wrap to finish this layer off to keep everything together.

Pet Portraits Process

The next layer is another important layer and that’s the hardboard. I purchase my hardboard from my local builders merchants who delivers it for me. It comes in 8' x 4' sheets and I get them to cut the sheets in half for storing in the workshop. I then bring a few sheets to the studio for cutting using a Stanley knife. I have tried so many other types of packaging over the years, like cardboard or polycarbonate sheeting, however it just don’t have enough strength and I have suffered damage in the past. Nothing protects the drawings like hardboard! I then use a specialists wrap to hold everything into place, my favourite part of packing as its so much fun to use.

Pet Portraits Process

The next stage is wrap the entire portrait in foam wrap. Its kind of like wrapping the portrait up in its own little duvet to keep it snug and warm on it's journey. It's great protection. I purchase the foam in 3 foot tall rolls and store it in the workshop as its too bulky to live in the studio but goes a long way.

Pet Portraits Process

The last stage of the process is to place the portrait securely into a double walled brown cardboard box and tape everything up with clear parcel tape. I always add fragile tape, the weight and dimensions of the box for customs along with the customs form and delivery address. My portraits are usually sent UPS and I book a courier to collect them from the studio. My portraits are tracked and clients can follow their progress online.

Pet Portraits Process

My Happy Client!

Here you can see the portrait has arrived safely and its now displayed on my clients wall. My clients are just so wonderful in taking photos of them with their drawings. I cant thank them enough as they really make my website special. Kim telephoned me all the way from America to thank me for the drawing and we had a really lovely chat. I hope that you have enjoyed this page of information and I hope it has been thorough and helped you understand the process. If you have any questions you are more than welcome to email me at any time or call me in the studio and I will be more than happy to discuss your photos and portrait.

Pet Portraits Process


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