Frequently Asked Questions

Digital Painting

What is a Digital Painting?

A Digital Painting is a work of art "painted" on a computer with a graphics tablet, pressure sensitive stylus and special software.

Is a Digital Painting REALLY a painting?

Yes. Everything you can do with a brush and canvas, you can do digitally. Smudge, smear, layer, blend, pile with a palette knife? Its pretty amazing. And fun.

Is a Digital Painting some kind of photo filter or retouch?

No, it really is painting. The emailed photo is for reference, a way to get a good likeness.

What Can I use a Digitally Painted Portrait for?

Just about anything. Have it printed on canvas, frame it and hang it on your wall AND... ...Use it for a Holiday card AND... ...Put it on products for all your extended family and clients... Imagine most of your holiday shopping done with one purchase and without any lines at the mall or post office!

Digital Sketches

What is meant by a "Digital Sketch"?

Normally, a digital sketch would be any quick drawing made on a computer with a stylus. I use the term a little differently. For me, a digital sketch is an arrangement of photos to give the client an idea of what the finished picture will look like. The photos, on "Layers" in Photoshop, and can easily be moved around or resized until the client is happy with the general layout. This collaborative process can be a lot of fun. It also helps make sure the client is happy with the picture even before its painted. This can save the artist time and the client money. (See Subsequent Changes Fee)

What is the collaborative process of a Digital Sketch like for portraits?

For example, Ruth wants a group portrait her of three grandchildren: Amber, Bobby and Cole. She would like to see them placed on a blue couch with reference to their favorite interests.

I would, of course use the photos Ruth emailed of the faces of the 3 kids. I would also use internet images for the couch, Bobby's soccer ball, Amber's ballet shoes and little Cole's favorite stuffed animal. I might also put in photo reference for the upper body of Bobby, because the photo she sent was just a face. Or I might quickly do a simple drawing of him holding the ball under his chin. I arrange these images and email a pic to Ruth.

She likes it, but suggests changes. She wants Amber in the middle and sends a picture of her lacrosse stick instead of the shoes. Maybe Cole's bear should be a Paddington instead of a traditional teddy bear.

We go back and forth until the arrangement is perfect. Once Ruth is happy with the "sketch" I use the sketch to paint the picture.

What is the collaborative process of a Digital Sketch like for illustrations?

This is one of my favorite things about working with authors. It can be a lot of fun, especially if the writer has a good idea of what they want. For example, Robert has written a book about funny donkeys. For the cover, he wants several donkeys doing silly things in a pasture. He sends a photo of Misty, the gray donkey he based the book on. He also sends a couple clip art pictures of the drawing style likes. He'd like a cover with donkey's scratching their heads on trees, playing with deflated beach balls and rolling on their backs with their legs in the air. I would assemble internet images of donkeys doing these silly things and email a low resolution image to Robert. The donkeys in the images may be black or brown, but Robert understands that the donkeys in the finished illustration gray the way he specified and drawn in the style he wanted. Robert likes it, but a wants a few changes. He wants the donkey with the ball larger in the foreground and the others smaller. He'd like the rolling donkey in more of a side view instead of from the rear. He'd like the title to be in an Old West font placed in the sky area of the picture. I make the changes and submit the corrected "sketch." Robert and I go back and forth until the arrangement is perfect. Once he is happy with the "sketch" I use the sketch to illustrate the book cover.


For group portraits, can I send in several different pictures?

Certainly. I'll make sure they're arranged in a way you like and try to keep a consistant light source.

What Can I use a Digitally Painted Portrait for?

Just about anything. Have it printed on canvas, frame it and hang it on your wall AND... ...Use it for a Holiday card AND... ...Put it on products for all your extended family and clients... Imagine most of your holiday shopping done with one purchase and without any lines at the mall or post office!

You say to email a photo. What kind of photo?

Good portraits come from good photos. The image should be large and/or high resolution. The more detail of the face, the better. You may have a large, high resolution photo of your son. But if he’s in a class photo of 30 kids standing on risers and the actual face is only an inch tall, there will be no way to do a proper portrait. Also, the largest photo of Aunt Marge has her squinting into the sun with dark shadows under her brows and chin. Not only do I not know what Marge’s eyes normally look like (never having met her) The only detail I can get from those shadows is, well shadow.

Can you make a color portrait from a black and white photo?

Yes. I'm that good. It costs a little extra, though.

The Process

What is Significant Subsequent Change? Why is there a fee for it?

Because the client has been give a very good idea of what the final image will look like (See Collaborative Process for Digital Sketches" and "Periodic WIP") Any changes made after the client has approved the sketch take extra work and require payment. For example, Carmina approved a portrait of her granddaughter Mary holding skates. Shortly before the portrait is finished, Mary wins an award for ice dancing. Carmina would like the award to be in the portrait instead of the skates. This is certainly possible with digital painting, but it does require extra work. The shoes are easily erased but I have to not only paint the trophy but the hand holding it as well. This takes an hour of extra time and I charge an extra fee of $50 for it.

What do you mean by Periodic WIP?

WIP means "Work in Progress." I like to send periodic photos of the work so that the client will be happy with what their getting. An "unveiling" is all very dramatic, but no good if you don't like the finished product. For example, the Vera has approved the "Digital Sketch" of the portrait of her champion show jumper, Orange Pekoe with a prize wreath of white lilies. I finish the drawing of the art and send a low resolution image to the client. Because the drawing is clearer than the busy photos of the digital sketch, Vera realizes that the flowers are wrong. Because I know more about art history than equestrian competition prizes, Vera needs to let me know that flowers should be pink roses. Vera informs me right away. Because, I was busy painting Pekoe's head and hadn't gotten to the wreath yet, it requires no extra work on my part and no extra charge to Vera.

Why do I have to make my final payment BEFORE I get the finished file?

For example, Felicity, is a proud descendant of Roderick "Ruggers" Setherbridge, sports demigod of Manchester. She commissioned a portrait. Using the skin tones and hair color of similar northern English people, I was able to create a color painting from a black and white photo. Felicity has seen a low resolution image of the finished digital painting and loves it. Why should she fork over the remaining payment for the finished file? She could use the low-rez pic to show folks on social media. But she could have done that with the B&W photos she emailed me. That's not why she commissioned the portrait. "What if the artist takes the money and doesn't give me my portrait?" Truth is, this portrait is valuable to Felicity and her family. I can show it off on my web site as a good example of my work. I've already got loads of those or she wouldn't have commissioned me. Truth is, there's not a huge market for portraits of elderly Rugby players, however distinguished. Roderick's portrait really isn't much use to me, the artist. Though the rest of the fee certainly is. Felicity is the one who wants this art, has commissioned and approved it and needs to pay the rest of the agreed-upon price. Besides, she can use the higher resolution file in lots of fun ways! (See What Can I Use a Digital Portrait For?)

What is the Process? How do I comission a work of art?

1 Client contacts the artist with an idea for a portrait or illustration. 2 Client emails photos of the portrait subject(s) or the art style the client is interested in 3 Artist attempts to assess the complexity of the work and offers a quote 4 If the client approves the fee, the artist draws up an invoice and requests approximately half the agreed-upon fee as a deposit. Very complex works may involve several payment milestones. 5 Client pays the fee through Square, SquareCash, PayPal, WePay, Google Wallet, Amazon, etc... 6 Artist makes a “Digital Sketch” and emails a low resolution image proof 7 Client suggests any desired changes 8 Artist makes corrections and emails a low resolution image proof Steps 6-8 are repeated until the client approves a layout. 9 Artist does a drawing and emails a low resolution image proof 10 If the client does not require any changes, the artist continues with the work, occasionally emailing low resolution images of the work in progress 11 Client approves the final low resolution image and pays the remainder of the fee 12 Artist submits the higher resolution file in whatever format the client requires Via email, DropBox, Google Doc, etc OR or an additional $5 fee posts a disc or USB drive to the client’s address