Choosing a size & a pose

Here is some information on choosing a suitable size of portrait, and some considerations for 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 to the cost of a portrait. However I can also work to a particular size you may have in mind (for instance if you are matching another portrait or want to fill an existing frame). If so please get in touch and I can give you a quote.

The smallest available size is 10 x 12 inches which is a similar size to A4 but a little wider, to give a more pleasing proportion. Any smaller than this would really be too fiddly for me to draw or paint (for my European customers, 10 x 12 inches is approximately 25.5 by 30.5 cm. The prices page shows metric conversions, and I’m happy to standardise any size to metric if you prefer)

I usually advise that for a head-and-shoulder portrait of a single child, the 10 x 12 inch size is amply big enough. You could also consider a 12 inch square which is a nice shape for this type of upper body portrait. Remember that when your drawing or painting is framed the mount (mat) will add quite a lot of size to the portrait.

If you prefer a larger portrait – maybe for a portrait of a teenager or an adult – you could go to the next size up of 14 x 16 inches (similar to A3 but a little wider) or a square of similar size. For a whole body portrait I would suggest choosing the 14 x 16 inch size so that the face isn’t too fiddly for me to achieve a good likeness. I wouldn’t advise going larger than this for a single subject however, unless you particularly want a big statement piece. This is because I have a general rule of thumb that the subject’s head shouldn’t appear larger than it is in reality.

If you want two subjects within 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 at least the 16 x 23 inch size.

Choosing the pose

When it comes to choosing the pose for your subject there’s no right or wrong answer and it’s really completely a personal choice as to how you want to see your subject represented. If that subject is your child, what aspect of their character do you want to see? Do you want to select a photo that captures a particular expression that you know very well?

Child portrait pose
Child portrait pose

Some people will simply want to choose a favourite photograph for me to work from where their child is looking straight ahead and smiling.

Others prefer a more thoughtful and contemplative look that captures the child in a quiet moment. This can be a nice way to capture something that’s a little different to a photograph and looks quite artistic. You could consider a pose looking downwards, looking off in a three quarter view, or looking back over the shoulder. Browsing through the drawing gallery will show you various examples.

I’ve also drawn a number of portraits of children with a favourite pet or a favourite toy, and this can also be a nice way to represent a child’s sensitive side.


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