Self-portrait drawing is a great way to learn about sketching as you never go out of materials. Also, it is challenging and easy to make a pencil portrait at the same time because you are posing for yourself (in the mirror). It teaches a lot about art and yourself, how you perceive yourself and look at yourself.
So here are some best tips for you when you make a pencil portrait of yourself.
1. Try drawing from a mirror
As other realistic pencil drawings work, self-portraits can be made best when made from life. By that, you’ll be able to see yourself in three-dimensions and help yourself for more complex pencil portraits. Also, you can always change your lighting source when you’re drawing from the mirror and experiment with volumes and darkness.
2. Work general to specific
Like all other pencil portraits, start with the biggest shapes and shades, i.e. be more general. Work on correct proportions and values, and gradually move to add details. Keep in mind that you have to look at a bigger picture, not just fix yourself in details.
3. Start your portrait with a light sketch.
Now when you begin sketching, start with a lighter outline to draw the major features first, and create a foundation of your self-portrait. Then you can move to the next level on adding up some textures, shades, and details. Always keep an eraser handy to easily erase your mistakes and avoid affecting other details of your drawing.
4. Add shadows and lighter strokes
Your sketch is incomplete until you have added shadows to it. Again, do it lightly and avoid emphasizing on it. To make it look more real, use small and light pencil strokes or rounding strokes. These strokes will mix with darker strokes of your pencil, whether it is graphite or charcoal, and give a shadowy effect.
It is recommended that you use lighting from the above when you’re making a self-portrait, in front of the mirror.
5. Do the hairline of your pencil portrait next
Start drawing your forehead next and figure out a proportionate length. Now start drawing your hair starting from scalp to the tip and make sure you outline this thick. Later, you can add shadows and highlights and fill up the internals with thinner strokes.
6. Time for final detailing of your pencil portrait
After you have completed drawing the major outlines or foundation of your pencil portrait, it is time to add the final details to your face sketch. You can now take your time and observe the shadows under your nose and eyes, near lips and neck to make it look more realistic.
Note: If you want, you can also use watercolours or coloured pencils to fill your portrait with finer details.
7. Get your pencil portrait framed!
Keep your pencil portrait safe and framed, even for future reference. Choose a good frame which goes with your texture and your details. Generally, a black frame does the magic.
Self-portraits are a traditional way of practising realistic pencil drawings. You can always choose to draw other subjects, be it your friends or strangers in a park. Just never stop practising!