Ian Coate Military Art

Commissioning a Portrait

Generally, a portrait is a tribute of a beloved family member that will be passed on to future generations reminding them of their special relative and the role they performed.

Ian Coate painting PortraitI love doing portraits for people that captures their occupation or passion.  If you want a portrait of a loved one and have photos of them in their uniform, work clothes, sports gear, etc, to be used as references; I would be interested to hear from you. PRESS HERE TO CONTACT.

I do admit I am a bit picky about the commissions I take on these days.  I don’t do simple portraits of kids and families.  I specialise in occupational portraits that captures the subject doing their role in the: military, police, medical, fire, rescue, mining, farming and so forth.  Or portraits capturing the subject doing their hobby or sport.  I also love adapting historical photos of ancestors. You may be surprised how your small photo can be transformed into an impacting portrait.  

The first question that people usually have when commission a portrait is: How much will it cost?

I have 4 Options to choose from.
Each option has a different medium and its own time frames. I base the cost of the artwork on time spent working on it. A pencil artwork is a lot quicker than an oil painting. Plus, detail plays a factor.
I calculate my rates at around $70 per hour – a standard tradesman’s rate.
(For more about artist/illustrator rates PRESS HERE.)


Option 1: Pencil and Wash.
Size: A3 (420mm x 297mm)
Description: Detailed pencil artwork with a background watercolour wash on archival paper.
Cost: $900 (Depending on the detail) + $15 postage and handling

Australian Soldier Artwork by Ian Coate Military Soldiers Artwork by Ian Coate

Option 2: Watercolour Three Tone.
Size: A3 (420mm x 297mm)
Description: Detailed three-toned watercolour artwork with a background watercolour wash on archival paper.
Cost: $1,500 (Depending on the detail) + $15 postage and handling

Military Working Dog And Handler Artwork by Ian Coate Victorian Police Artwork by Ian Coate

 Option 3: Full-Colour Watercolour.
Size: A3 (420mm x 297mm)
Description: Detailed full-colour watercolour artwork with a background watercolour wash on archival paper.
Cost: $3,000 (Depending on the detail) + $15 postage and handling

Military Working Dog MWD Artwork by Ian Coate Australian Army Catering Artwork by Ian Coate

Option 4: Full-Colour Oil Painting.
Size: Variable according to your personal requirements.
Description: Detailed full-colour oil painting artwork on canvas with a textured background.
Cost: $3,000 – $10,000 (Depending on size of canvas and the detail)
+ Shipping of canvas by freight.

Portrait of an Australian Soldier by Ian Coate Australian Soldier Portrait by Ian Coate
RAEME Artwork by Ian Coate

From Photos to Finish.
Once the suitable photo references are chosen, I go to work sketching out the artwork and progressing through a number of stages depending on the option chosen.  I will send you email updates of each stage as it progresses.

Painting a Military Portrait bu Ian Coate
Ian Coate Painting

If you are interested in an Occupational Portrait, I would be delighted to chat with you about the best option for your commission.
Email me by pressing here.


A further insight into the process.
Australian Soldiers in Vietnam The Commission: I was approached by a lovely lady who wished to commission a painting of her good friend depicting his time in Vietnam (I quickly learnt from other sources her friend happened to be a well-known and much respected former member of the Australian SAS). The old photo on the right was all she had for me to work with. This was going to be tricky as there was no crisp visual information from this photo to work from. 
One thing I have learnt about painting military artworks is soldiers know their stuff. If you paint their kit wrong they will always be quick to tell you. I’ve had people contact me to correct my artwork because I have drawn a soldier’s boots laced in a fashion that didn’t occur until a few years after the event which the artwork depicts. As you can imagine the people who enjoy military art are very passionate about their subject so it behoves the artist to do their research.
Below are the steps I went through from conception to completion.
Soldiers GridArtist MannequinDrawing a Figure
On this commission I used the simply grid method to transfer visual information correctly.  I used an artist mannequin put under the same directional lighting as the photo to guide me with basic shapes and shadows.
Drawing a SoldierSoldier Sketch
I flesh out the drawing until I have a visual map of the desired layout.  I then lightly pencil the basic line work onto my canvas.  Using the photo and my drawing as reference I then start painting the details on using a brown oil paint (burnt umber) diluted down with Medium No. 1.
Painting a soldierPainting a military artworkPainting a figureSoldier Painting
The Browning stage can be time consuming, but if you get this stage right it saves much time later.  Once the browning stage is finished and dried, I loosely glaze over the background with colours mixed with Medium No. 1.  Then using various photo references to find the correct colours for the camouflage uniform and rifle, I glaze over the main figure.
Soldier in JungleSAS Phantom of the JungleVietnam War Art
I slowly build up detail layer after layer.  To give a sense of jungle it was decided to add some foreground foliage.  You will see in the second picture above that the top foliage was removed due to overcrowding.  Then bit by bit I painted in the details (this is the most time consuming stage).  One of the hardest things with an artwork is knowing when to stop so you don’t over-work it.   I guess this comes with practice (I’m still working on that one myself).  Once finished I sign it, wait for it to dry and then seal it with picture varnish gloss.
Australian Soldier Vietnam War
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