These can pose a greater challenge than a traditional sampler, as the cross stitch covers most or all of the linen/aida/cloth: compared to traditional samplers which have much larger areas of 'white' or unstitched space. This dense coverage, plus the subtle shifts from thread colour to thread colour, require significant skill and time from the stitcher.
A number of the ones on sale on eBay seem to lack a stitched example. The site where I made the Queen's Jubilee design (see the earlier blog entry) lets you upload photos for charting. You can specify how many colours (and thus the level of subtlety in colour gradation/complexity) you wish to use.
It's a quick enough thing to put a photo through charting software and bundle up a chart and threads, but without a stitched example you don't really know how it's going to look. I'm finding as I sew the jubilee design that I'm amemding colours and stitch locations as I go.
So if all you see is a photo and no example, I'd be cautious about stitching: almost all have some clever form of wording in that there is a 'computer image of the design' or colour chart or something that is NOT a photo of a real stitched sample. (Actually, by and large I'd avoid stitching these myself anyway, as they are more complex than I enjoy and take a long time).
Some examples based on William and Kate:
This one was given away with the magazine Cross Stitch Collection (issue 195), and combines photos with a traditional coat of arms. Designed by Maria Diaz. The sample was stitched on 28 count evenweave: 239x183 stitches, 43cm x 33cm.
from eBay seller designs-in-thread, sold with chart, thread, aida (doesn't specify size). Design approx 12.8in x 15.1in. Cost £38.95.
from eBay seller designs-in-thread, sold with chart, thread, aida (doesn't specify size). Design approx 9.3in x 10.4in. Cost £22.95.
Another royal wedding image is being sold as a pattern for experienced cross stitchers.
rememberingmom2 shows only this photograph, no example of a stitched version of the design. The design measures nearly 17in x 28in, 300 x 499 stitches for £16.99.
But if you really want to fill a wall with a design almost a metre wide:
from eBay seller designs-in-thread, sold with chart, thread (99 colours), aida (doesn't specify size). Design approx 31.6in x 24.5in. Cost £139.95.
Here's my favourite (but not because I'll stitch it, make it or own it):
Notice anything? Like, um, it looks like Photoshopping gone 'orribly wrong? Take another look at the suit (not uniform), the dress, her hair, the bouquet, her face.... eBay seller pickles_1211 had this for sale: chart, thread, 18 count aida for $US36. Wonder if it was originally a European royal bride? Also, it's um, a tad not-for-company courteous in the trouserish area....! (not the cleverest/most subtle charting, is it?)
There are lots more William and Kate designs - pretty much all of them looking like scan and chart and package it operations rather than design, stitch then package in the traditional style. Just search on William Kate cross stitch on eBay to find more.
There are (unsurprisingly) a significant number of Diana photograph-based cross stitch designs, so I'll put some of those in a separate blog entry.
For my taste, I'd rather the more naive style of faces/portraits in earlier samplers and embroideries to these attempts at realism; but there is no doubt of the trend and its popularity.
If you know of any portraitish William and Kate designs, in particular ones with stitched examples, please do add them to the comments with links.