Learn Basic Drawing

Lesson Five: Self-Portrait

Make yourself comfortable for this exercise. Set up an area with a table, chair, mirror and a lamp. On the table, put the mirror so that when you sit down, you will be able to see yourself. Set the lamp to one side of the mirror (left or right) to provide directional lighting. If possible, dim the lights or turn them off all together.

Using your pencil, on a new sheet of sketch book paper, draw your face. Use the pencil gauge method to determine the length and width of yourself. Do include your neck and part of your shoulders. Fill the entire page with your image.

Here is a self portrait video I made that will help you with this exercise. The video shows my taking a photo of myself, holding it up to a light source and tracing around the image. The reason I did it that way was because I had difficulty switching my video camera from my mirror image to my drawing to show how I was referencing my face! If you find doing a self portrait to be daunting (some students do) you may want to work from a photo instead of using a mirror.

Click here to go to Basic Drawing Lesson Six!

Real Feedback

I've been painting, but I didn't like what I was doing because I didn't know how to draw. I took your basic drawing classes and it helped so much! My paintings look real and believable!

Thanks for your help, Lois,

Donna Engle

I want to be a artist someday so I want to know how to draw. I'm working on my face and thanks for telling me how to put the freckles in.

J.J. Aspen, Colorado

Watch my YouTube video on "Draw A Self Portrait With Pencil "

Although we may truly feel that we have rendered our image quite accurately, those who view our self-portraits may find very little resemblance!

Portraiture is, after all, a matter of interpretation.

Robert Burns, wrote in his poem, "To A Louse: On Seeing One On A Lady’s Bonnet, At Church"

"O wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!"