There is truly no time like the present to give drawing a shot, and a self-portrait is an excellent place to start. The template provided here can help you figure out how to draw a human face — how much space there is between all of its parts and what goes where. Some of the best portraits in the world don’t follow these rules and you don’t always have to either, but it’s helpful to know them.
Other than the above template, you’ll need a pencil, an eraser and a mirror. Set up the mirror so that you can see your head, neck and shoulders. Look straight into it so that you have a symmetrical view of your face and be mindful, once you have begun to draw, not to move much.
The horizontal line that bisects the oval is where your eyes go — right in the middle of your face. The three circles indicate the width of the eyes. The middle one helps with the spacing. (There is, give or take, about an eye’s width between your eyes.) Take a good look in the mirror at your own eyes. What shape are your eyes? Round? Almond-shaped? What do the creases made by your eyelids look like? Are your eyelashes light or dark? Long or short? What about your eyebrows? Are they thick or thin? Straight or arched? Neat or unruly? Look closely and sketch your eyes in the two outer circles, then add your eyebrows above them.
Next, draw your nose. The bottom of your nose is roughly at the middle line on the template. Often the outer edges of the nose align with the inner corners of the eyes. Your nose may be wider or narrower than this. Is it long? Crooked? Turned up or turned down? Can you see your nostrils? Is the bridge of your nose much narrower than the bottom or are they a similar width?
The lowest line indicates where your mouth should go. It fits in the area between the two outer vertical lines and the horizontal line is where your lips part. Look closely: Are your lips thin or full? Is one lip fuller than the other? What is the shape of the line that separates your upper and lower lips? What shape does your upper lip make? Is it like an arch? Like the letter M? Something in between?
Your ears will go between the top and middle lines. They should roughly span the area between your eyes and nose. Can you see them or are they covered by your hair? Do they stick out or are they barely visible? What kind of lines do the folds of your earlobes make?
At long last, it’s time to draw your hair. Can you see your hairline? Does your hair hang down like curtains? Does it make a straight line right across your forehead? Is it long or short? Curly, wavy or straight? Drawing hair is an opportunity to experiment with different kinds of lines and mark-making. How can you use your pencil to indicate its texture?
Now take a good look at the shape of your face. Is it round? Pointy? Square? Draw the line of your chin and the sides of your head if they’re not covered by your hair. Finish up by drawing your clothes and adding any important details that make your face look like yours: glasses, freckles, moles, wrinkles. Are the irises of your eyes light or dark? Can you see little flecks or shapes in them? What other lines can you see? Is there a crease above your chin? What does the divot under your nose look like?
There you go. You have drawn a self-portrait. Excellent work. Now that you know how, you can do it again tomorrow.