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Draw Yourself (And For Yourself) To Improve Faster!

One of the best ways to quickly improve your artistic skills is to draw yourself. I know this can be a bit scary at times. You’re not sure if you can do a good self-portrait or if you’re going to be criticized by other people.

So that’s why I also recommend you to draw for yourself, you don’t even need to share the results online or in person.

Drawing yourself is an excellent opportunity to try new materials and techniques, and just have fun with the process!

What Is It Called When You Draw Yourself

Take photos of yourself or a friend to help you getting references to draw emotions like an angry face!

Generally, when you draw yourself, it’s called doing a self-portrait. This means that you draw your own portrait (usually based on a reference photo of yourself).

You can also draw the entire figure, you don’t have to stop at drawing only your portrait! If you get a good photo of your entire body, you should try and draw it as well.

With that said, keep in mind that when drawing yourself, you don’t need to draw exactly your physical appearance or copy your reference photo.

In fact, unless you’re going for a very realistic style, I would recommend you exaggerate your self-portrait. Draw bigger and cuter eyes, a long nose, tiny mouth, just try things out!

As I said before, this is a great way to experiment with different art styles. So feel free to try and draw yourself in different ways, and even with different materials.

1795 Self-Portrait by George Romney
Self-Portrait by George Romney, 1795

Self-portraits have been around for hundreds of years.

You can see the works of old masters throughout the ages. Refining and trying new ways to draw themselves.

And they did it so they could improve at their work!

In fact, I honestly think this is a great way to learn how to draw and improve your artistic skills.

How Can I Draw Myself Better?

We are our own worst critics. So when trying to draw ourselves, we tend to nitpick every little aspect of the drawing.

So how can you draw yourself better? To draw yourself better, you should start by lightly sketching the basic shapes of the head, then move on to the facial features. Once you have a good foundation, you can start adding details to the eyes, mouth, nose, and so on.

Keep going and experiment with different styles and mediums.

Drawing yourself is an artistic skill that takes time to improve at. So don’t expect an overnight change!

Don Corgi Avatar In Two Different Styles

Try different ways to sketch yourself, different art styles, and don’t give up.

I would also recommend you NOT draw yourself over and over in a row. This is a surefire way to get burnt out and stop drawing for a while.

Instead, I would recommend you draw yourself once per week or once per month so you can keep track of your progress.

This is an excellent art goal to aim for.

In between self-portraits, simply create other projects. Such as drawing your own characters, drawing some anatomy, or even just trying different art styles.

How To Draw Yourself Step By Step

So, how exactly can you draw yourself? Well, here’s a very simple step-by-step lesson on how to draw yourself that you can follow!

1) Gather Your Materials And References

Cartoon image of a character holding several different art materials
Grab some materials!

To draw yourself, start by finding a good comfortable area. Your couch, your desk, even on the floor! Grab your drawing materials, and a reference or two.

  1. Find a place that you feel comfortable working on. Then, it’s time to pick some materials!
  2. Get a paper and a pencil/pen, or simply grab your favorite drawing tablet and open up a drawing software of your choice.
  3. Get a reference photo of yourself, a mirror to look at or you can even grab a portrait photo from other people to practice!

Take this time to also think about what kind of emotion you want to give in your self portrait. Is it a happy or a sad emotion?

This will impact what colors you use, and the way you draw yourself.

Now that you’re ready, let’s move on to the drawing part!

2) Sketch The Basic Head Shapes

The foundation for a good self-portrait is great basic shapes.

So let’s sketch those first!

Start by sketching the entire head shape.

basic sketch of a head shape
Sketch the basic head shapes first

You can tweak this as you want. 

Create a long head, or maybe even a very round head. Totally up to you!

This is just a sketch, so you can clean this up later on, no worries.

If you’re looking for a detailed tutorial on drawing the head, here you go.

But for now, let’s keep it simple and move on to the next step!

3) Sketch The Facial Features

Now that we have a solid foundation for our head, let’s add some facial features!

You can keep them very sketchy right now, and focus on the position and size of each feature.

Here are some facial features to add:

  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Mouth
  • Ears
  • Eyebrows
  • Pimples
  • Scars
  • Blemishes
  • Beard
  • Moustache
  • Hair

The list goes on and on!

sketch of a self-portrait with simple features
Sketch some features like the eyes, hair, and more

You don’t have to draw all of these, and you can keep everything pretty simple. Some artists don’t even draw noses for example!

But you can also add elements that are not represented in your reference.

Ever wanted to see what you would look like with a scar? Add a scar to your drawing of yourself!

What about if you had HUGE eyes?

Draw them in!

Try to have fun with your own self-portrait, this will help you improve much faster and enjoy the process of learning.

4) Clean The Lines Of Your Self-Portrait

It’s time to clean your self-portrait! This time go over your base lines and take your time cleaning them up.

Use a pen if you’re doing this traditionally, or make a new layer on top of your sketch if you’re drawing digitally.

It’s important that you don’t rush this process!

Put on some nice music that you love and take your time drawing smooth long lines.

simple cartoon drawing of a drawing of yourself
Clean the lines of your drawing of yourself!

You can also add some small lines to the bottom of the head to draw a bit of the neck. This can make your portrait feel a bit more complete.

With that said, you can also prefer to keep your drawing of yourself very sketchy, and that’s completely fine!

Simply skip the part about cleaning your lines and you’re done.

Good job!

5) Try Different Art Styles

This is an optional but very important step in drawing yourself!

Don Corgi Avatar In Two Different Styles
A Self-Portrait Of Me In 2 Different Styles! (Halloween Version On The Right)

Experiment with different styles when drawing yourself. You can keep the same base shapes and try working with color, try different brushes, or different media.

The most important part here is to explore your art.

Keep an inquisitive mind and just have fun with all the different styles!

How To Draw FOR Yourself

One of the best ways to improve and grow as an artist is by drawing for yourself.

This means that you don’t worry so much about sharing your artwork with others, but focus more on doing what you love, no matter the consequences.

It’s fine to follow trendy drawing challenges and have fun with them, this is also a good way to improve. And I will talk more about a challenge about drawing yourself later in this post.

But don’t feel that you HAVE to do all the drawing challenges and keep on posting every single day or even multiple times per day on social networks.

It’s ok for you to simply enjoy your drawings and keep on creating new art.

Especially if you’re taking drawing as a hobby and you’re not planning on selling your art online any time soon.

So here are some tips on drawing for yourself:

  • Figure Out What You Like to Draw. By trying new ideas and art styles you can slowly figure out what’s your favorite thing to draw. Do more of that and just have fun with drawing!
  • Explore New Mediums. New mediums will show you new artistic possibilities and new ways to draw the same subjects. I recommend you to try charcoal, digital art, watercolors and acrylics.
  • Focus On The Fun. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks, focus on the fun part of drawing and close your ears to outside criticism. You’re just having fun!
  • Remember That There Is No Wrong Way To Draw. Drawing is not an exact science. You don’t have to draw like all the other famous artists, nor do you need to follow a trend that everyone else is following. Want to draw stick figures? Draw the best stick figures ever!
  • Take Breaks. If you’re focusing on drawing for yourself, you’ll want to take lots of breaks. This is a perfect way to avoid burnout and to simply enjoy drawing.

Drawing for yourself can be a very relaxing way to improve your artistic skills while having fun. You don’t need to keep an eye on your progress, but if you do you might also get an extra enjoyment of your month to month improvement!

Draw Yourself Challenge!

You might’ve heard or read online about a “Draw Yourself Challenge”. This was a popular drawing challenge that exploded on Tumblr.

It includes a basic list that encourages artists to draw themselves in different ways.

This is a great way to try something new and enjoy creating self portraits in several styles and conditions.

Here’s a selection of some of the prompts of the challenge:

  • Draw yourself walking through snow.
  • Draw yourself surrounded by trees.
  • Draw yourself with war paint.
  • Draw yourself playing a musical instrument.
  • Draw yourself in pajamas.
  • Draw yourself wearing sunglasses.
  • Draw yourself wearing a knit hat.
  • Draw yourself smiling.
  • Draw yourself as an alien.

Feel free to tag me @artbydoncorgi if you do any of these! I’ll be more than happy to see it and share it.

And if you’re looking to improve at Drawing Faces so you can draw yourself better, here’s a complete guide for you!


Patricia Caldeira is the main writer here at Don Corgi. She's an art teacher with over 20.000 happy students across many platforms and courses!

Enjoy your stay and as always:
Keep on drawing!

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