Task 7: Self-Portrait in Charcoal

Drawing self-portraits can be a great way to practice sketching techniques as-let’s face-it-there is no shortage of material when you draw yourself! Sketching or drawing yourself can be a great way to learn a lot about sketching, shading and proportions- this exercise will teach you a lot about art and yourself.

Task 7 comes in 2 parts:

Part 1: Get a tonal black and white photograph to work from

Part 2: Produce a tonal self-portrait using charcoal


The following resource will help you get started on this task:

Self Portrait


Part 1 allows you to get creative as well as to give yourself a great foundation on which to practice your drawing techniques. Adding meaning to your artwork makes it personal and you connect better with what you are doing.  Have fun getting your photograph just right. Some portraits will be of just the face of the artist, and other portraits will be of the whole body. The artist decides how he wants to portray himself… this is the experimental bit 🙂

Then it is on to Part 2. Everyone thinks they know the proportions of a face, but when you really study the human face, it’s easy to realise that the eyes are not near the top of the head, they are more about half-way between the crown of the head and your chin. See the previous task to learn more about these proportions 🙂

Get the major features first, lightly, to create a foundation so you can add in your details later. This way, if you make a mistake, you can easily erase it and it won’t affect the minute details you will spend more time creating later on.

Bring together the work we have done so far on charcoal techniques and observational skills. Turn the photo upside down to really ‘see’ what is in front of you to get accurate proportions.

When you are done you can ask yourself- does my portrait look exactly like the source photo? Your answer will be, No, and I don’t want it to! This is YOUR representation of the original photo. Remember, you don’t need to make an exact copy of the source, that’s what photocopies are for! Be expressive whilst following simple proportion rules to create a personal and unique work of art.



Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


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