How to use a photo reference in your art?
I’ve been working on a couple commission pieces over the past few weeks. Although my starting point were reference photos, I got complete artistic freedom over the commissions. In today’s blog post I’ll show you my studio process of one of these paintings—how to use a photo reference in your art?
Strategy: Analyzing photo
Before I start painting I crop the photo thoughtfully, asking myself: What is the main subject? What painting format is best for the subject (square, rectangle, portrait or landscape)? What are interesting elements?
The cat is the main subject, so I decided that a portrait orientation would be the best format for this subject. Furthermore, I like the relaxed gaze and the elevated position of the cat, the coat colors and pattern, the bright and green color of the Taxus Baccata (English yew) and the red-violet color of the bush in the left corner.
Concept: Color and Composition
In the next step I make some quick sketches of both the composition—to get the balance right—and the color scheme. It’s a challenge to create your own interpretation and composition of the subject.
I picked out a blue background color and a purple color for the top of the column to make the cat pop out. To make the composition more interesting I added some greens in the background. I also see some bright yellow ochre/raw sienna in the coat of the cat, which made me decide to tone my paper yellow ochre.
It’s time to paint
Now that I figured out the composition and the color scheme, it’s time to paint!
Enjoy my visualization of Sem the Cat!