Nanna’s commission reference and briefing guide


In short: I create commissions based off of composites of photographs along with sketches from my imagination. People and things don’t always look the same in a photo as they do in real life, so I use references to gain information about the proportions, structure and defining features of a person.

The quality of the photos provided, along with the written brief, provides the “full picture” of what I will create. It might be the case that there are too many details in the written brief, in which case I will use my artistic licence to curate which details make it into the final artwork.

If your brief is light on information, I might make my own decisions on what to put in the background, foreground. Typically these will be either naturescapes, or city scapes, if these are not specified. But I am also known to throw some weird stuff in there if the client seems up for some fun 🙂 In the vein of giant kaiju/ sci-fi space age business/additional eyes – just some of the things that I like.

On briefing and providing references:

If you very passionately want certain details included, please explicitly ask for those to be included. If you want me to play around with it a bit – tell me I can go wild (yay!)

For example, if you want to have a musical instrument, sport equipment or an item of clothing included, please make sure to provide separate images of these items. Alternatively I will scour the internet for generic references, which gives less time to spend on your commission, and might result in unwanted additions (a Fender instead of an Ibanez guitar, etc.)

Please provide multiple photos of faces (at the VERY least two good high-quality photos per face), preferably at least 1000px wide, at various angles. It is difficult to gauge what a face looks like from a singular angle, and might lead to unrecognisable likenesses.

Please avoid selfies! Selfies distort our faces (by up to 30%) and it is incredibly difficult to reproduce a likeness in ink from a selfie.

Avoid overexposed references – the idea of a reference is the ability to see the three-dimensional qualities of the face. The topography of noses, foreheads, cheekbones, frowns etc.

Please avoid images where you are wearing sunglasses. Unless you are ok with wearing sunglasses in the commissioned portrait.

Please provide full body photographs of people. This helps with placing people next to one another, and to get a sense of people’s proportions/style/height. I cannot guess what your heights are, nor what kind of clothing you like. If left to my own devices, everyone will look like an 80s punk.

I use very few lines in my comic-book approach to illustration. If I don’t know you in person, I cannot 100% guarantee that your commission will look exactly like you.

I almost always have to go look at people’s instagrams/ facebook to fill in my references, but I can’t guarantee that there will be time, or that my stupid internet in my studio is going to work on the day that I create your artwork.

It is probably best to just assume that I will only use the references that you provide.

Thank you for commissioning me and accepting my finicky process.