Learn Basic Drawing

Lesson Five: Self-Portrait

Drawing a picture of yourself takes courage.   We often view ourselves with criticism.  Most of us are not very satisfied with the way we look.  

 Set up an area with a table, chair and mirror. On the table, put the mirror so that when you sit down, you will be able to see yourself clearly. If possible, set a lamp to one side of the mirror to provide directional lighting, dim the lights or turn them off all together. Or choose an imaginary light source and shade accordingly.

Consider the shape of your head, neck and top of your shoulder one shape.  Draw that shape to fill the entire sketch book page.  Use the pencil gauge method.  Measure your features with your pencil.  How far apart are your eyes and where are they located relative to your forehead? How long is your head relative to the length of your neck? How wide is your head relative to the width of your neck and shoulders?  Check your measurements and correct as needed.

 I have taught an alternative method to beginning students who are frustrated drawing a self portrait. Taking a selfie, printing it out and tracing the image on to a sketch book page eases the frustration so that the rest of the drawing process can proceed.  Here is a video I made of this method.

If you are inspired by drawing portraits here is a video I made doing a portrait of my daughter.

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!"