How to Send Photos for your Custom Order

Your photos don't have to be professional; in fact, a couple of quick smartphone photos will more than likely do the trick. And if your custom order is a gift, you can probably scrounge up appropriate photos without letting the cat out of the bag. However, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when gathering photos for your custom order. Since I can't see you in person, my drawings can only be as good as the reference photos and explanations that you send. Follow the 10 tips below to select the ideal photos for your custom portrait.

1. I'll need 2-3 good photos of each person (and/or pet). It's helpful for me to have multiple photos to reference. So what is a "good photo"?

2. Photos should be close up. They don't have to be so close that I can count every hair and freckle, but I should be able to see your facial features (eyes/nose/mouth) clearly. Think headshot, not full-body group photo.

There are two exceptions to this rule:

  • Full-body photos are great for showing the clothing you'd like me to draw. We'll talk about that below.
  • With hi-res, professional images, full-body photos are sometimes okay because I can still see your face clearly when I zoom in. What's really important is that...

3. Photos should be large enough that I can see your face without it getting pixelated.

4. Faces should be turned straight toward the camera. My portraits are frontal, so I need to see what you look like from that view (not in profile, and not at 3/4). Try to find good representations of face shapes and hairstyles.

6. If photos are from different time periods and they show the same person with multiple hairstyles, or different glasses, etc., be sure to clarify which look is current. Also note any particular details I should be sure to include (i.e. her red lipstick, his dimples, their height difference).

7. Choose an outfit for each person (skip to step #9 if you ordered magnets or a vintage style couple portrait). This is where full-body photos can be very helpful. If you don't have a photo of each person wearing their outfit, that's okay! You can send a photo of the clothing laid out your bed/floor, or find a photo of a similar outfit online (online shops are great for outfit references). Err on the side of too much detail, and I'll simplify as needed. 

8. For your pets, I'll need a couple of full-body photos to show their color and markings. Make sure you note any important details (i.e., relative sizes, a spot on the nose, or a tail with a white tip).

9. I'll create a Dropbox folder for your order, and send you an invitation to join. When you've gathered all your photos and information, you can add them to your Dropbox folder, or send everything in an email. Please include your order number in the subject line. If you have a large order with a lot of people, it can be helpful to organize the photos into folders (one per person), so that I understand who's who.

10. Do not send photos embedded in a Word Document, or combined into a single PDF. Jpegs are the best file format.


Additional Photo FAQs

  • Do you need the whole family in one perfect photo? No. Separate photos for each subject are fine. 
  • Do I need to send photos as soon as I place my order? No. Since I won’t start working on your order until I make it through my waiting list, you can wait to send photos a little further down the line. Try to send them at least two weeks before your completion date so that I can still finish your order on schedule. This is a great option for quickly-growing kids.
  • Do you include custom eye colors and skin tones? I do not include eye color in my minimalist portrait style. For paper dolls, skin color will be simplified to one of four shades: light (which is uncolored off-white paper), light brown, medium brown, and dark brown. You can see examples here. I’ll choose the skin tone I think fits best based on your photos, but if you have specific requests, or think differences in skin tone may be hard to discern, I'd love your input.
  • What about other details (jewelry, tattoos, etc.)? Because the paper dolls are tiny, most details will be simplified. For example, instead of a detailed wedding ring, I can draw a tiny silver or gold line. Tattoos will be simplified as well, but I’ll need good photos of the tattoos to be able to recreate the overall colors and shapes. Certain complex details or accessories will cost extra, and will need to be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

Still have questions?

Don't hesitate to get in touch.