Great Tips For Making A Self-Portrait

Great Tips For Making A Self-Portrait

Meta Text: Creating portraits is one of the most popular areas in painting, but very few take it to the next level by making portraits of their own. This article includes some tips to make it easy for you.

Portraits are always special. We all love to put one on our wall or on social media platforms. It adds more appeal when you draw a self-portrait. But, this is not the simplest work out there. To make it a bit easier, here are some tips for painting a self-portrait.

Where Did the Idea of Self-Portrait Come from?

Personalized paint by number, selfies, and Bitmoji avatars are the medium we use now to present ourselves on different platforms. But before that, self-portraiture was a well-respected and common practice. 

There are many reasons for it. First, all-time availability of your subject, and it’s even free. Another is about the judgment and privacy of your subject. Painting a self-portraiture was regarded as courageous too. During this pandemic, people are finding creative staff to do. Thus, it can be a special and unique option to have.


Mirror: It may seem to you that working with pictures will be easier and faster. To some extent it is true, but you’re not getting a real view here.  In case of using a picture, you’re getting a 2D view rather than 3D; it doesn’t let you have the idea of depth in different facial features.

Again, you’re getting a processed or edited image that changes the color tone and softens the skin. If you’re using a picture that is already deviated from the real view, then after the painting, the change gets even more significant.

That’s why we would recommend using a mirror over the picture. But it’s all about your flexibility; you can use a picture too.

The size of the mirror you’re going to use shouldn’t be too big either. You’ve to sit a little closer to the mirror, and your chest up image can be seen. In this way, you’ll be able to keep focus only on parts that you’re going to paint.

Picture: You can still keep a picture as a reference which will let you understand if you’re going on the right track.

Lighting Arrangement: All painters know the importance of lighting while they are working, especially when it is a portrait. For achieving the correct contrast, accurate lighting is mandatory. You need lighting on one side and a little above your head. Perfect shadows on your face can be achieved this way. Use strong shining light. The effect of chiaroscuro is preferable, which provides a strong contrast between light and dark.

Colors: The choice of colors varies from person to person, depending on their taste. Many painters prefer exaggerated colors to work with because they think it’s fun. 

Perhaps, you’ll want a classic palette for starting with. For that, ‘old master’s palette’ from school will be your choice: burnt umber, ultramarine blue, titanium white, cadmium red light, ivory black, yellow ocher, and cadmium yellow light.

If you want to go with oil paints, use raw umber, alizarin crimson, titanium white, cadmium yellow, and ultramarine blue. You can’t give all your time to observing millions of skin tones on your face. So don’t make it complicated, and just use a white, blue, red, black, and yellow palette. This removes the confusion of choosing colors while giving you close to the real color. All you need is to mix these basic colors to get your desired shade whichever you want.

Tips for Self-portraiture for Beginners

– It’s better to start with a preliminary drawing or a light sketch. Before starting painting, anyone thinks they understand the proportion of their face, but after studying the face, the person might start to realize that their eyes are not closer to the top of the head; the actual location is more about half-way between the crown of the head and their chin.

By doing so, one can get the proportion right, and the chances of mistakes decrease as you can make changes from the preliminary drawing where necessary.

– Divide your face area into some divisions, and work on one division at a time. As it requires a great amount of work, it is not possible to work at a stretch. Breaking your work into smaller pieces makes it easy for you to focus.

Other strategies can be to first position the important parts like eyes, nose, lips, ears, and others. Just give an outline to them; detailing can be done later. 

Some people use a bitmoji app for breaking the face into the smallest propositions and take the color of skin tone from there. It is helpful, but it diminishes the charm of painting the portrait. So, it will not be recommended.

– Mark your mirror with tapes or markers. The subject, you, cannot always stay still. You’ll move, and this is natural. But to get the previous position, marking on the mirror will be very effective. This way, all you need to worry about is matching up your face to the marking lines.

– Choose the expression which really defines you. The expression is the magic that turns the picture into reality. It will make you believe in that self-portrait. Try different expressions before finally choosing one.

– Adding shadows will give your portrait a more professional look. But go lightly in this process too. Smudging tools or giving shadows with your finger makes the shadows look more realistic. If you go lighter with your colors to draw shadows, it will be easier to erase and make corrections.

– You’ll try to give details and shading to make it look awesome. But don’t rush in detailing; it will come at last. When the outline and some of the shading is done, then comes final detailing. Give your sweet little time in filling eyes and lips to perfection. The finer details are the essence which makes the self-portrait realistic.

–  Pay attention to the hairline when you’re done with the outline. Start from the base which is the head and go along with the length. After filling the thick lines, insert shading, and highlights as you go along.

– This extra tip is for those who never show up without makeup. As you’re portraying yourself, you can put on makeup if you like. If you do so, the suggestion will be to refrain from wearing foundation.

If you like your portrait, compliment it with a great frame. The portrait with a nice frame in your nicely painted wall will keep on inspiring you and make you love yourself. A simple black or mono-color wooden frame will be a nice choice.

Remember, you’ll struggle at first, but in the end, it will be a success. Start painting yourself!


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