Self-Portrait Drawing in Crayon

Art Prof Clara Lieu demonstrates how to draw a self-portrait using a mirror and a color layering technique using Caran d’Ache Neocolor I crayons.

Prof Lieu shows how to set up your easel, drawing, clamp light, and mirror in order to have a smooth drawing experience.

Prof Lieu walks you through the thumbnail sketching process and then how to transition from the thumbnail sketch to the final crayon drawing. Blocking out a foundation of colors is shown.

Then more complex layers of colors using the Caran d’Ache Neocolor I crayons is shown through to the final drawing.

Crayon self portrait Drawing, banner

Video Walkthrough

  • Drawing a self-portrait is a “rite of passage” for every artist
  • Rembrandt was the quintessential self-portrait painter.
  • Caravaggio’s self-portrait paintings
  • Advantages of drawing a self-portrait: you are the most willing model you will ever have.
  • How to set up the mirror, easel, your drawing board and yourself that will allow you to move between looking at your drawing and the mirror, without straining yourself.
  • Structure of the face, emphasize the cheek bones, jaw bone, eye sockets, and the chin.
  • Consider the direction of the gaze of the face in the portrait.
  • Using a viewfinder to get ideas for composition.
  • Tweaking your thumbnails will save you time: crop them and make them larger as needed.
  • Starting a line sketch with yellow ochre.
  • How to block in large areas of color.
  • Noting the reflected light in the face.
  • Cool vs. Warm colors
  • Stylistic choice once you hit a certain point in the drawing: do you leave the drawing loose, or do you refine it with details all the way?+

Show us what you make!

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Prof Lieu’s Tips

Clara cartoon

The key to drawing a self-portrait is to forget that you are drawing “yourself.”: Instead, tell yourself that you are using yourself as a reference, but nothing more!

Portrait Drawing: Soft Pastel

Crayon Tips

Caran d’Ache makes Neocolor I crayons, and Neocolor II crayons. The difference is that Neocolor II is water soluble and Neocolor I is not.

If you aren’t using water, it doesn’t really matter which Neocolor you use.

The only difference is if it’s very warm where you are, the Neocolor II can get soft and smeary, wherease Neocolor I will not.

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