Do you want a photograph to be hand-painted for your friend/family but can’t pick the best picture for it? Are you confused about the criteria that should be considered while choosing the perfect picture? Is that selfie of yours good enough to be painted? Are close-ups always desirable for portraits? Is the pose right? Is lighting important? Are these the questions troubling you? Don’t you worry, here are our guidelines to help you select the best photo for your portrait painting.

We first need to understand why a photograph is important for a portrait painting. A painting depends primarily on the subject that is being painted. If the subject isn’t sitting live in front, a photograph of the same does the job. Hence, selecting the right photograph for the painting is essential and while doing so following points by our experts should be kept in mind.


Clear and Sharp Photo

Will you be able to paint anything that is not clear or blurred? No, right? The same is the case here. For a perfect painting, the subject in the photograph should be clear. All the lines and edges of the face are important in the painting. So, if you find anything cloudy in the subject, you may look for a better one.

Don’t: Avoid blurred or out of focus pictures.


Blurred picture with moving subjects

Avoid moving subjects. This makes the picture blurred.


High-Resolution Picture

You hear all the time that the quality of the photo shall be excellent. But what qualifies for a good quality photo? Well, try and zoom in your picture. If the eyes are visible after zooming in and the picture doesn’t pixelate, it is the perfect picture for the portrait. And even if it pixelates, are the edges of the eyes still visible? If yes, this picture can be converted into a painting.

Pro tip: Eyes should be crystal clear.

Don’ts: Avoid screenshots and WhatsApp images.

High Resolution Picture

The Picture should be high-res. The details in the eye should be preserved.

Close-ups are preferable

The answer you are looking for is yes! Yes, close-ups are preferred. Why? Just because they are very alluring. Every line and details are visible. Imagine how beautiful the painting will look when you can see every detail of the subject in that painting. I would also add that although close-ups are preferred, that doesn’t mean you cannot go for a full-length (long-shot) picture. These make for equally beautiful paintings. Just make sure the quality of the photo isn’t compromised.

Close-up Picture with Minute Details

A closeup should be clear and detailed.


Best expressions

Everyone likes a smiling face. Your favorite picture would be the one with a bright smile. If you like a photo of your wife to be painted look for that million-dollar smile in that photo that makes your day bright every morning. While all other details like hair, clothes, the background can be altered while painting, the expression cannot be corrected without losing the likeness. So, always look for the best one.

Pro Tip: Smiling faces make better portraits.

A smiling face makes the best picture

A smiling face always looks better


There can be different poses for a picture. You can experiment with this element, but keep these points in mind for selecting a picture with the right pose.


The eyes should be either facing the camera or in the direction of your nose. If you see in some other direction, it might not look appealing.

Eyes facing the camera

Eyes facing the camera looks more appealing


One must always prefer pictures clicked from eye level. Higher and lower perspective do not qualify for a perfect picture as it wouldn’t give the best results.

No Forward leaning

In long shots, leaning forward or bending on the side looks fine but if we crop the same image, it doesn’t make any sense. On the other hand in couples pictures, subjects leaning towards one another, looking towards each other qualify for excellent poses. Also check out our blog post on Ideas for Couple Portrait Photos

Looking at each other makes for a perfect pose for couples

Looking at each other makes for a perfect pose for couples

Objects in the same plane

In pictures with multiple subjects, we prefer that the subjects are in the same plane. If one subject is behind the other, it ‘usually’ doesn’t look good in paintings because the details can become hard to capture.


Full face

This is a common mistake. You must select a picture with the full face. The head, face, and ears should not be chopped from any side.


Right Exposure

How are you going to make sure if the exposure of the picture right? This term might be baffling if you are not a photographer. But don’t worry, I will help you understand in simple language. Pick a photo and observe it. Do you find any difficulty while seeing any part of the face? Is it too dark or too bright? If the answer to these questions is yes, then the exposure of the picture isn’t right. You need to find a picture in which all light tones and shadows both are visible. That would be the best photo of the painting.

Under-exposed picture(on left); Too dark & features aren’t clear. Ideally exposed picture(on right)


Proper Source of light

Lighting is the key factor in photography. A photographer always seeks for the perfect light because of its immense importance. So, you must look for a photo with good lighting. What light am I talking about? Is the flashlight of the camera good enough? No, by light I do not mean the flashlight. The front light makes the subject looks plain. The source of light should be away from the camera. You should not have the light behind the subject as it will divert the focus and make the background very bright.


Black & White Photos are also Good

You might wonder if a black and white photo can be converted into a painting. Yes, a black and white photo is as good as the colored one for a handmade painting. We can even add color to a black and white photo if desired while painting and vice-versa. Just keep in mind the resolution of the picture. This factor remains the same throughout.

Black and White Portrait Picture

Black and white Photos also make for good portraits


Contrasting Colored Clothes

This is very simple. Where do you want the focus of the painting to be? I am sure you want the face to be the center of the attraction. So, the clothes shouldn’t be too bright to make the face look dull. Also, try to maintain the color balance of the portrait by choosing some contrasting colors.


I hope after reading all these points, you have got a better idea of how to select the perfect picture for a hand-made painting. Resolution, exposure, poses, expression, etc are very important while selecting a photo. One should take care of these elements to get the best painting made. Although these points are general rules, there are always some exceptions. Every picture tells a story, so even if it is not the perfect one, it is worth painting. So, don’t hesitate to gift your dear ones a token of love and our artists will help you with their personal touch. Allow SmileMiddle to present you the masterpiece of your life.

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