How to Draw a Self Portrait

Self portraits can seem difficult, especially for beginning artists, but they are a wonderful way to practice sketching the human form. Grab your sketchbook and pencils and read below the jump for instructions on drawing a self portrait.


  1. Image titled Draw a Self Portrait Step 1
    Take a picture of yourself, against a plain wall that makes your features stand out, or get a drop cloth, you are going to want someone to take several pictures for you in several different facial expressions to get a nice picture of yourself.
  2. Image titled Draw a Self Portrait Step 2
    Get a good large enough piece of paper and a drawing tool of your choice, like pencil, charcoal, or ink.
  3. Image titled Draw a Self Portrait Step 3
    Draw outlines, lightly, of your major features, like face shape, shape of the hair, and eyes/nose. Your eyes should be 1/2way down your face. Perhaps trying the grid method would be an easier way to do the outlines if you are a beginner artist. Don't worry if it doesn't look right at first it comes together nicely at the end.
  4. Image titled Draw a Self Portrait Step 4
    Add shadows and using your fingers or a smearing tool to smear and the eraser to remove some, when used correctly will start to look realistic.
  5. Image titled Draw a Self Portrait Step 5
    For the hair, you will just have to draw each 'thick line' and adding shadows, highlights, etc.
  6. Image titled Draw a Self Portrait Step 6
    Keep adding and removing the shadows/lines, until you are finished.
  7. Image titled Draw a Self Portrait Step 7
    Find a frame that fits it nicely, and erase the pencil smudges around your portrait to look professional and put it in a frame.
  8. Image titled Draw a Self Portrait Step 8
    Hang if desired.


  • Over time, add layers of shadows or glares from light in the hair and eyes.
  • Buy a drawing/sketching school book and read it, do the exercises to practice so you understand the shadowing and contour linings.
  • Scan it to save a copy on a thumb drive/USB/travel drive so if the original gets destroyed or something there's a backup.
  • Never get too dark on the lips, try to keep dark colors int Hair and eyes so that they pop more.


  • Be careful when erasing the pencil smudging off so you don't rip the paper.

Things You'll Need

  • Drawing tool, like pencils/charcoal/ink
  • Good eraser.
  • Sturdy clean drawing paper
  • Sharpener
  • A picture of yourself

Article Info

Categories: Drawing People and Features