Selfie Portraits


  • Reference Photo (selfie printed out on 8.5/11 paper in color)
  • 12×18 white paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Colored Pencils

“Selfie” Portraits


  • expression
  • proportion

In this assignment you will be creating a self portrait using a selfie you have taken as reference.  A few things to keep in mind about your selfie:

  • It cannot crop (cut off) any area of your face or head
  • You must be able to see both eyes, nose and mouth
  • Check and see if there is enough detail in the photo.  If the image is washed out or too dark you will have a hard time seeing enough detail to draw from!

Once you have taken your selfie it is recommended that you print it out on 8.5/11 paper however this is not mandatory.

Use your selfie as reference for drawing your self portrait.  Start the same way you did for the lesson on facial proportions, by drawing the shape of the head.  However, you may need to adjust based on the angle you took your selfie from.


Once you have your head drawn, add the guidelines the same way you did previously.  If your head is tilted up or down the lines may need to be closer together.  Use the graphic above to assist in the placement of your guidelines.

This time, when you are drawing the features of the face, make the feature specific to you and your expression in your selfie.  Depending on your expression change the shape of the eyes, eyebrows, mouth, etc.

Look at all the different shapes you can use for just eyes:


If you would like, experiment with drawing the different features on a separate piece of paper before adding them to your self portrait.

Part 2:


  • Expressive: effectively conveying a thought or feeling
  • Value: lightness or darkness of a color

Next you will be using colored pencils to add expressive color to your portraits.  These are not meant to be true to life, these portraits should express who you are inside.  Think of colors that you feel represent you.  I chose blue and green as my main colors because I like nature and I’m an easy going/go-with-the-flow kind of person.  Here are some examples of portraits that use expressive color:

url images 0e9590ff039f4ea5ebeaff6a420704d8

Some are more realistic than others but the underlying principal is the same.  In order to make our faces look 3D we will be layering colored pencil in order to create value.


See how when two colors are layered they become darker?  This is the technique we will be using to create value rather than simply pressing harder with the colored pencil.    You will find that you can create richer and more interesting colors if you layer colored pencil in this way.  Use this technique in the shadows of your face.  Check your selfie to see where your face is lightest and where your face is darkest.  For example: if you took your picture with overhead lights chances are there is a highlight on your nose and a shadow under your chin.  This is a very dramatic example of overhead lighting creating highlights and shadows on a face:


Check and see where your own highlights and shadows are. Color very lightly with only one or two colors in the highlights and color slightly darker with more colors in the shadows.  Play around with which colors you are using on different highlights and shadows, maybe you will use different colors for the highlights of your hair compared to the highlights of your face.

Have fun!


  • Layered colored pencil to create value
  • Color is expressive, tells the audience about the person in the portrait
  • Craftsmanship: whole paper is colored in, drawing is neat, guidelines are erased, color is added thoughtfully, color is applied evenly (no scribbles!)

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