Can I use a crummy photo?

In short, yes!

I have had a few commissions as of late, that have been drawn from, well, terrible photos. When a loved one has passed, sometimes all we have left is a couple of grainy snapshots. Or if the work is a surprise for someone, access to good photos may be limited. I draw and paint my portraits directly from these photos. Without the actual subject, that’s all I have to go on. I reproduce what I have in front of me (with, of course, a dash of magic.) When a picture is blurry, my portrait ends up with a much softer quality. Here are a couple of examples of portraits created from very sharp hi-res images:


And here are a few created from lower quality source images:


Do you see the difference? The less detail in the photo, the less I can put in the artwork. I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing, but it certainly results in a different aesthetic quality.

One more – Mulan. I was actually a little concerned going in to this one. The photo was so grainy and small, and my client wanted it blown up to an 8×10. She and I were both pleased with the end result. Again, it is softer and may not show each hair, but still represents the subject well.


For more on this client’s reaction, have a look at my testimonials section, as I’ll be posting her kind words there shortly. When I hear back form clients on how much they enjoy the final work, or how well their gift went over, it warms my heart each time. It really does. So bring on the compliments! (Ha ha!)

xoxo melody



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