Choosing a size & a pose

Here is some information on choosing a suitable size of portrait, and some things to think about when deciding on what sort of pose you might want for your subject.

Size options

You’ll find a list of typical sizes on the prices page, to give you a guide.  If you have a particular size in mind or want to fill an existing frame please get in touch for a quote.

The smallest available size in any medium is 10 x 12 inches (a similar height to A4 but a little wider to give a more pleasing proportion). Any smaller than this is really too fiddly for me to draw or paint. I usually advise that for a head-and-shoulder portrait of a child, this size is amply big enough. You could also consider a square of similar size – say 11 or 12 inches – which is a nice shape for this type of portrait.

Of course if you have a larger wall in mind and want a larger portrait you can go to the next size up of 14 x 16 inches (similar to A3 but a little wider), and certainly for a whole body portrait you’ll need at least the 14 x 16 size. Likewise if you want two subjects in the same portrait you’ll need at least a 14 x 16 inch format so I can include enough detail, and for three subjects you’ll need 16 x 23 inches. If you’re not comfortable with thinking in inches the prices page has conversions to metric too.

Unless you really want a big statement piece then I have a general rule of thumb which may help, which is that I generally feel that a portrait should be no bigger than the subject’s head is in reality…particularly for child portraits.

Choosing the pose

Deciding on the type of pose you’d like for your portrait can be tricky because this is the point where you really need to think about what sort of portrait you want. There’s no right or wrong answer here and it’s completely a personal choice as to how you want your subject represented. If it’s your child, what aspect of their character do you want to capture? Do you want to see a particular expression, that you know very well?

Some people will simply want to choose a favourite photograph for me to work from that features their child looking straight ahead and smiling. Others might feel they want the portrait to capture something different to a photograph and prefer a more thoughtful and contemplative look that captures the child in a quiet moment. I’ve also drawn a number of portraits of children with a favourite pet, and this can be a nice way to represent a child’s sensitive side.

Child portrait pose
Child portrait pose

As a possible alternative to a typical front-facing portrait keep in mind various other options which can give a slightly more artistic look. You could have the subject looking away, or looking down, or even a side-on profile image. One pose I think works very well as a composition is sitting somewhat to the side and looking back at us, slightly over their shoulder. Browsing through the drawing gallery may give you an idea as to what sort of pose you prefer.


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