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 for a drawing or watercolour is 30 x 25 cm (approx. 12 x 10 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. In oils, I offer a smaller size of 20 x 20 cm (approx. 8 x 8 inches)

I usually advise that for a head-and-shoulder portrait of a single child, the 30 x 25 cm size is amply big enough, as I generally feel that a child’s portrait works best when their head doesn’t appear bigger than it is in reality. You could also consider square of a similar size, which is a nice shape for this type of upper body portrait. Remember that once your drawing or painting is framed the mount (or mat, for my North American customers) will add quite a lot of size to the portrait.

If you prefer a larger portrait you could go to the next size up of 40 x 35 cm (approx. 16 x 14 inches) which is similar to A3 but a little wider, or a similarly sized square. This is a good size for a teenager or adult. A whole body portrait would need to be at least this size so that the face isn’t too fiddly for me to achieve a good likeness.

If you want two subjects within the same portrait you’ll need a landscape (horizontal) format rather than a portrait (vertical) format. To draw two people in the same portrait I need to work on large enough sheet and I recommend the 35 x 50 cm (approx. 14 x 20 inches) size so I can include enough detail. For three subjects you’ll need at least the 40 x 60 cm (approx. 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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