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Self Portrait

Updated on January 13, 2015

The Final Result

My completed self portrait.
My completed self portrait. | Source


There are several supplies that you will need for sure and some that are just optional for this project. I will state the different options.

Needed Supplies:

  • 18"x18" paper (I used Bristol)
  • 1 Tube of black paint (I used 2 oz. Liquitex tubes)
  • 1 Tube of white paint (I used 2 oz. Liquitex tubes)
  • A paintbrush with soft bristles (I used a size 6 flat brush)
  • A pallet or something else you can use to mix paints on
  • Pencil\Eraser
  • Photograph of yourself or the person you are painting
  • Tracing paper

Optional Supplies:

  • A mixing stick or something else you can use other than a a paint brush to mix smooth shades
  • Extra paint brushes of different sizes (to make details easier)
  • Tape (To hold your paper in place or make edges easier to paint)
  • A light box

In progress.
In progress. | Source

Getting Started

To start with you will need to print out a clear black and white photograph of yourself or the person you are painting. I just printed one out on a piece of printer paper (the closer it is to filling the page without distortion the better). Tape some tracing paper over the top of the picture and trace just the main parts of the picture (including shadows). If you do not have a access to a light box just tape it to a well lit window like I did.

After I had my tracing I put a piece of clear projector paper over it and traced it in black marker. I then used the projector to shine the image on the wall. I taped up my 18"x18" paper and traced the image.

**I had access to a projector if you do not you can use the grid method or take it down to Kinko's to have them enlarge the image for you to transfer on the larger paper.

Do you think you want to try this project?

See results
In Progress.
In Progress. | Source

More Tips

  • It helped me to label the different areas before painting them so I did not mix them up. You can use numbers or letters. I used letters.
  • I used a cheap chopstick to stir my paints because I was not at home and had to improvise, it worked.
  • I would recommend not using your paint brush to stir the paints because the shade does not come out as even.
  • Improvise if you need to.


  • Using a close up picture with limited background is easier but you can use any picture that you would like.
  • It is easier to do this project in sections. I did one shade at a time then I would thoroughly wash out my brush and let it dry completely.
  • Wait for the brush to dry completely to make things easier.
  • I would recommend painting in a well lit area, natural light is better but I know that is not always an option.

The tracing paper.
The tracing paper. | Source

Where To Get Supplies

I got some of my supplies at my college bookstore but for the most part I bought them at craft stores like Michael's. These supplies can also be found on the internet like Amazon.

Most of the supplies are pretty cheap if you do not already have them. Light boxes can easily get expensive but you can do without those if you do not have the money. Improvising can really come in handy when supplies are out of your budget range. I have had to learn that.

The final product.
The final product. | Source

**The Grid Method

The grid method is when you use a ruler to create a grid across the picture and a proportional grid across the 18"x18" paper. You then redraw the picture square by square onto the paper that you are going to paint..I will admit that I struggle with this method a bit but it works well for others.

Thank You!

Thank you for reading my hub. I hope that you enjoyed it and that it was helpful. You can leave pictures of your portraits in the comments if you want. I would love to see them! Or leave me some tips on how to improve.Have a good day :)

© 2015 Rebecca Jensen


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