Creating a Portrait

As the holiday season approaches and I start to get requests for portraits, I thought I’d share a little bit about what goes into making a portrait. Partly because I thought it would be an interesting subject, but also as a reminder that if you’re looking for a portrait as a gift, especially if you need it by a certain date, to book in early! A lot goes into making a portrait, as well as running Adlaya’s Art, so creating each piece takes quite a bit of time. 

So what goes into creating a portrait? Let’s start at the beginning, when someone sends me a portrait request. After I’m contacted by a client, I answer any questions they may have, confirm pricing, send over a contract for the commission, and get reference photos from the client. Often this takes a few days or sometimes a week or two, as life is busy and not everyone can respond to my emails right away. Once I have the signed contract and deposit for the commission, I add the client to my wait list, which can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months long. 

While drawing the portrait takes a good chunk of time, there’s a lot more to it than that!

Before I start actually drawing a portrait, I crop the reference photos, and create a ‘mockup’ of the portrait, which is just how I’d like to frame the photo within the size of portrait ordered. I then send the mockup to the client for approval, and once everything is set, I can actually start drawing. 

Depending on the size and style of the portrait, a piece usually takes me between 10 and 30 hours to complete. Coloured pencil drawings require a lot of layers, and can’t be rushed! So I can generally finish a portrait in 1-2 weeks, depending on the complexity of the subject. 

When the portrait is finished, I photograph it so I have a digital file of the portrait I can share. I try and do this in natural lighting, which means waiting for the right time of day and weather so the picture looks as good as possible. When I have a perfect picture, I edit it on my computer to make it look as close to the original drawing as possible, and then send it off to the client to let them know their portrait is all finished! 

But the process doesn’t end there — after collecting the final payment for the portrait, I package the artwork, and either ship it to the client or arrange for pickup or delivery if they’re local. Once the client has the portrait I check when I’m able to post the finished piece on social media, as often portraits are gifts. 

So now you know exactly what goes into creating a portrait, and why it’s always a good idea to plan ahead when you’re looking for a pet portrait! There’s a lot of steps involved, and not all of them are under my controls (weather and shipping, for example). If you have any questions about my process, please let me know! 

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