A good amount of my illustration work focuses on portraits. Constantly drawing likenesses for magazines as well as The Unselfie Project has me thinking about something that has really bothered me for a long time - the "almost" portrait. What is an "almost" portrait? It is simply what I describe as a portrait that "almost" looks like who it's supposed to be.
I am not being a jerk nor am I making fun of anyone's artistic ability. I'm just trying to explain how important it is to do your job well. When you are getting paid to create a likeness of a specific person it really needs to look like who it is supposed to be. If you don't specialize in something why would you offer it in your portfolio? There is a reason why I am not known for drawing automobiles.
As with anything it takes years of practice to master the craft of portraiture and become known for what you do. Study your subject. Get good reference. If the reference you are given is not something that you can work from, ask the client for better reference. Sometimes a client might ask you for something that you do not specialize in. It doesn't happen a lot but it DOES happen once in a while. If this is the case, have the good form to direct them to someone who is more adept at helping them get the result that they need.
Here are some examples of "almost" portraits. And the ones that are permanently tattooed on the client? I rest my case: