Commission Your Own Custom Artwork

As a realism artist, I’ve been specializing in commissioned portraiture for well over a decade. I am well versed in guiding my clients through the process step-by-step to provide them with a beautiful piece that accurately captures their beloved subject.

Below you’ll find details on the commission process, a pricing table, and FAQ on things like my waitlist, shipping, framing, how to get the best photo for me to work from, and much more.

How it Works

Make Your Selections

The first step is deciding what size piece you’d like, and whether you’d like it in Black & White (grayscale), or in full color. If you’re having trouble deciding, you can always reach out to me so I can help you determine what will work best for your subject and the photos you have.

After that, you’ll need to send in some high-quality photos for me to work with. Click here for more information on how to take/select the best photos for your artwork. I always recommend that my clients send me multiple photos (as many as they like!) So I can make my best recommendation. At this stage, I may send you a few photoshopped mock up images to help us make a decision about the layout and overall look of your piece.

Place your Deposit, and Get on the Waitlist

The next step is placing your deposit (50% of the total cost of the commission) either through PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, or GooglePay. I’m happy to provide PayPal invoices if needed. This deposit secures your spot on my waitlist and serves as a downpayment for your piece.

My waitlist will be anywhere from 1-12 weeks typically, depending on the time of year (the closer to Christmas, the longer the wait). Click here for more information about the waitlist. Once I get to your order in the queue, I’ll let you know that work is beginning. Once I get to your piece, expect the work time to be about 1-2 weeks.

Final Approval and Shipping

Once I’ve completed your piece, I’ll let you know and send you images for approval. At this point in time, you may ask me to make up to two small changes to the piece if something is not to your liking. Once I have your final approval, shipping address, and remaining payment, I’ll package the piece and ship it within 3 business days.

I always ship artwork with USPS Priority Mail, full insurance, and tracking (this information will be provided to you.) For more information on packing and shipping, click here.

Excellent communication, timeliness, and wonderfully packaged for delivery.

I highly recommend everyone to get art from Katie!”

– Alyson Horton


Single Subject

Size Black & White Full Color
5×7″ $150 $350
8×10″ $250 $500
11×14″ $350 $650

Two Subjects


Black & White Full Color
8×10″ $350 $700
11×14″ $450 $850

Three Subjects


Black & White Full Color
11×14″ $575 $1050
16×20″ $750 $1350

There may be additional charges for the following: Major changes/adjustments to the photograph the artist is working from, detailed backgrounds, full body renderings in addition to a full face portrait, international shipping, overnight shipping, pieces larger than 11×14”, rush processing, or more than 2 adjustments to the final image.

If you have more than three subjects that you’d like in one piece, or you would like a size that you don’t see listed here, please contact me via e-mail at so I can work up a custom quote for you. If you can, please provide me with photographs in the e-mail so I can come up with the most accurate quote for you.

I am able to create pieces in almost any size, but do have limits to how small I can go for horses and multiple subjects. Horse portraits (head and neck/chest) must be at least 8×10″, and full body horse portraits must be at least 11×14″ or larger (preferably 16×20″). Two subjects (of any type, human or animal) must be at least 8×10″. Three or more subjects will need to be at least 11×14″, 12×16″, or 16×20″.

Prices include domestic US shipping, handling, insurance, and tracking.

Prices are in USD.

Choosing a Photo

This is perhaps the most important part of this process! When I have a fantastic photo to work with, I can create a truly exceptional piece of artwork for you. The better the photo, the better the drawing!

The best photos are high resolution, clear, and crisp. Ideally, when you zoom in, you should be able to see individual hairs in the fur. You can easily use a smart phone to take these photos, an SLR is not needed.

More tips for choosing and taking a good photo:

  • Be eye-level with your subject.
  • Take the photo in good bright lighting – next to a window or outside (cloudy or partly cloudy day is actually best for outdoor photos!)
  • Get relatively close to your subject – avoid taking photos across the room or yard.
  • Try to capture (or find) a photo that shows their personality and spirit as much as possible, or how you like to remember them.

Tips for taking a good pet portrait photo:

  • Approach your pet when they are napping or just waking up from a nap. It can be difficult to take a photo when they are hyper and want to play!
  • Get your pet’s favorite treat or toy and hold it right to the camera as you snap a photo.
  • Get down at their eye level.
  • If you can, take them outside or get them next to a window or door so the lighting is as good as possible. Direct sun can be a little much in some cases – a lightly overcast day is your most ideal situation.
  • Use the best camera you have. Avoid using flash. Hold the camera steady, and take LOTS of photos right in a row (put on multi-capture).
  • Try to capture their attention so their ears are pointing forward. In the best case scenario, you want to capture an image of your pet where they are relaxed, happy, and attentive. As I mentioned before, try to capture their personality and the way you always remember them! Certain things may be important to you in a portrait like their favorite toy or bed – include that if you desire!

If your pet has passed over the rainbow bridge, here are some tips for finding good photos:

  • Collect as many as you can, send them all, and let me know your favorite ones.
  • Try to look for photos that are crisp and not pixelated.
  • If you only have film photos, scan them onto your computer or phone at the highest resolution possible (I cannot work from a photo of a photo).
  • Look for images that really capture their essence.

If you want multiple pets or subjects in one image:

  • The best situation here is that you have a good, clear, crisp photo with all subjects in the same frame with the same lighting and at relatively the same depth (so, two dogs next to each other vs one dog next to the camera and one across the room).
  • The next best thing is to have separate photos of each subject, all taken with the same lighting (ex. Take a photo of each cat separately next to a window from the same spot.)

I always do my best to work with what you can provide me, but there may be some very rare instances where I cannot work from what you have. I will let you know up front if that appears to be the case. In scenarios where we do not have great photos to work from, I usually will recommend going with a black and white (grayscale) drawing and I will ask you to send me as many photos as possible so I can take additional details from other photographs and put together what I can. It is generally not possible for me to take a face from one photo, and the body from another, and have it look realistic. Keep that in mind.

Always e-mail me your highest resolution photos. Many people will try to screenshot a photo to send me. If you can – please provide me with the original file and e-mail it full size to so it does not get compressed.


Below you’ll find some good (and not so good!) examples of photographs:


Eye Level, 3/4 Profile, Sharp/Crisp Image, Plenty of Detail, Great Composition, Focused Look

Taken in a well lit room in daylight. Would create a wonderful piece.

Sharp Photo, Lots of Detail, Good Lighting, Eye Level, Interesting Angle

This was taken outdoors on an overcast day. This would translate to a beautiful pastel painting.

Great Lighting, Sharp Photo, Interesting Angle, Inquisitive Look

This was taken on a sunny day, next to a glass door. With bright eyes and lots of contrast, this would translate very well to a pastel painting.


Cute photo but this was taken zoomed in at a distance in a room that was not extremely well lit.

As a result, if we zoom in, it is a little pixelated. I could still do a nice rendering from this.

Well Lit, Happy Face, Taken at Eye-Level

However, since this is a little far away, if we zoom in or crop this, it will not show very much detail and won’t be as easy to work from.

Cute photo, but taken far away, in dim lighting

Due to this, I won’t be able to get as much detail from the image, but it’s still okay to work from.


Lighting is okay but, photo quality is poor (older photo), cat is far away, bad angle

Due to the poor quality of this image, it would be extremely difficult to draw a detailed realistic portrait of this cat.

Poor Lighting (dim and backlit), eyes are in shadow, and blurry.

This would be very difficult for me to work from and would likely not translate well into a pastel drawing.

While this is a beautiful photo, it’s a little dark and far away.

We could do something more like a landscape with a dog in it, but likely could not work with this as a close up portrait.


The sizes you see listed on the pricing table reflect standard frame sizes in the US. This will make it easier (and less expensive) to frame your piece of art. However, if you want a size that is not listed, please send me an e-mail ( and I’ll be happy to accommodate your request and give you a custom quote. I can often work up to a size of 30×40″, as that’s the largest size of Pastelmat I can order. Do know that to work that large, I will need an excellent quality photo to work from, and that it will be more expensive and take many more weeks than what has been described on the site for sizes up to 11×14″.

If you are having trouble figuring out what size you’d like, I would suggest figuring out where you would like to hang the piece, and what your needs are. Do you have a lot of wall space? What’s the wall and room like where you plan to hang it? Would you prefer to put the piece on a dresser, table, or mantle? If you don’t plan to hang it, I would recommend going with a 5×7″. If you have a small home or apartment, I would also recommend a 5×7″. However, if you have more wall space, a larger home, or want to make the piece a primary focal point of a room, I would recommend going larger. You can always get a larger frame with a bigger mat as well. (See more on framing here.)

Another option (if you don’t want such a large piece and you have multiple subjects or animals you want to include) is to get several small pieces done and hang them together. So you may get a set of three 5×7″ drawings instead of one 11×14″ or 16×20″ drawing.

Color vs Black & White

This comes down mostly to personal preference. Some people prefer a grayscale image because it’s a less expensive option. Others might prefer the look of black and white or the look of color. It might also depend on the room you wish to put the piece in. This is totally up to you!

Occasionally, I may make a recommendation depending on the photo you have, and the coat of the animal. For example, brindle and tortoiseshell fur will be much better rendered in color than grayscale due to the lack of contrast in the fur. Or if you have an image that isn’t the best quality, I may recommend a black and white because it will be difficult for me to accurately represent realistic color from a poor quality photo.

Many people ask me if it’s worth it to have a black or white or gray animal done in color. Again – personal preference. When I draw a color image of a white dog, I am using much more than just “white” pastel to render their likeness. For reference, I’ve included a few photos below of black and white animals done in both color and grayscale.


Black and White Dog in Grayscale

White and Dark Gray Dog in Grayscale

Black Dog in Grayscale

Black & White Dog, Done in Full Color

White Dog, Done in Full Color

Black Lab, Done in Full Color

Deposits and Payments

For your commissioned artwork, you will make two payments. The first is a 50% deposit, paid upfront. This will secure your spot on the waitlist and commitment to the piece. Deposits are non-refundable. Your second payment of 50% will be made upon completion, before shipping. Note that depending on the waitlist, you may be making these payments within a week of each other, or as far apart as several months. I will let you know how long the waitlist is and how long it will take me to complete your piece up front so you can manage expectations and figure out payment. I will not ship a piece without full payment.

I can take payment through PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, or GooglePay. I do not take checks, e-checks, wire transfers, or bank transfers. I am happy to create PayPal invoices if needed. If you are not based in the USA, make sure that your payments are made in USD.


Typically, my waitlist is out at least a few weeks. During the holidays, things can be backed up for months. If you are planning on ordering a Christmas gift (the busiest time of year for me,) I highly recommend ordering no later than August or September to guarantee that your gift arrives on time. If you contact me about a Christmas gift in November or December, it is likely I will not be able to get to it until January.

I do not do rush processing, nor do I allow clients to jump ahead on the waitlist. You must plan ahead if you have a particular date in mind! If you are in a time crunch, you can also pay ahead for the piece, and then allow your gift recipient to contact me and design their own commission.

My waitlist time is an estimate, not a guarantee, and is subject to change. Occasionally, a piece may take me longer or shorter than I estimate. If it appears that I’ll be getting to your piece later than initially estimated, I’ll send you an e-mail and let you know of the new update.

Turn Around Times

On average, it takes 1-2 weeks for me to complete a piece, and another few days to get it packaged and shipped.

Occasionally, I may get a piece that has a lot of detail, a detailed background, or is very large and in color that takes me a few weeks to complete. If I suspect that your piece will take longer than a week or two, I’ll let you know ahead of time.

I always let my clients know when I am starting a piece, and an estimate of when I may be finished with it. Upon completion, you’ll be sent a final image for approval before shipping.

Shipping, Tracking, Insurance

Domestic shipping to the USA is included in the price of your piece, as is handling, insurance, and tracking. I will ship to the shipping address you provide me upon completion. I will not ship your piece until I have your final approval, shipping address, and the remaining payment.

I always ship USPS Priority Mail or UPS Ground, and insure the full cost of the piece. Once shipped, I will send you the tracking number so you can keep an eye on it.

If needed, I can specifically ship via FedEx or UPS, but there will be an additional charge. I like utilizing USPS Priority Mail because the pieces arrive unscathed and within 3 business days max, it’s very reliable.

If you are an international customer, there will be an additional shipping charge of $30.

I am not responsible for shipping delays. If the piece is lost or damaged in the mail, I will file a claim on the insurance. Once I receive reimbursement from USPS (up to four weeks,) I’ll begin work on recreating the piece for you at no additional charge. (I’d like to note that I’ve never had this happen in my 12+ years of shipping artwork.)

I very carefully package artwork between layers of tracing paper, foam core, packing paper, and wrap the entire thing with several layers of Kraft paper. If you want to see how I package commissioned artwork, take a look at the video below.


And (knock on wood) never had a single thing get ruined in the mail using this method 🙂 but i purchase full insurance anyway just in case!

♬ original sound – Katie Emmitt – Artist


Your piece will come unframed, sandwiched between two pieces of tracing paper and foam core. I highly suggest keeping the artwork packaged this way until it is ready to go into a frame. Pastel can be smudged easily – so be careful with handling and storing it until it has been placed safely into a frame.

If you do not have a frame yet, I highly suggest Art to Frame. They have great pricing and a ton of options. It will be significantly cheaper to order from Art to Frame than what you’ll find at a local framer.

You can put your piece of artwork temporarily in any standard frame/mat you might find at a big box store (I would say, up to 6-12mo). However long term you will want an archival mat and UV Protection glass. This will prevent any discoloration or fading over time due to sun damage or non-archival mats/papers and will keep your artwork perfect for decades (even centuries!) Museum and non-glare glass will help you see the artwork better, but are not absolutely necessary like UV protection is.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of framing, I can order a simple black frame with a white mat for you and ship the piece already framed, for an additional cost. That cost will be determined based on the size of your artwork and where you live (shipping) plus an added $30 convenience fee.

Changes and Edits

Once I’ve finished your piece, I will send you a photograph for final approval. If there is something you want me to change, I will happily make a maximum of two adjustments to the piece, free of charge.

Once you pay the remaining balance, and your piece has been packaged, no changes can be made.

Refunds and Cancellations

Deposits are non-refundable.

After I receive your final approval and final payment, there will be no refunds issued.

As the commissioner, you may cancel or terminate your commission at any time by sending me (the artist) an e-mailed notice. Upon cancellation, the commissioner will compensate the artist as follows:

  1. Partial Completion: If the artist has partially completed the work, the commissioner will compensate the artist at 25% of the total compensation in addition to the 50% deposit.
  2. Full Completion: If the artist has completed the finished artwork at the time of termination, the commissioner agrees to compensate in full.


Sharing on Online and Social Media

As the artist, I retain the copyright to the image of the artwork to put on social media, my website, or to utilize for paper marketing. However, if you are giving the piece as a gift and wish to keep it a surprise, I can hold off on posting to social media temporarily. Please let me know ahead of time if this is the case.

Feel free to share your piece on social media, and if you can tag me, even better!

Katie Emmitt – Custom Artwork, Commission Info, Pricing, FAQ