Self-Portraits Using Mirrors

Although staring at a reflection of yourself can feel uncomfortable at first, using a mirror is one of the best ways to achieve the realism you desire. Here are a few tips to help you capture your own self portrait using mirrors: 

Position it close - Set up your mirror at any angle you like, but keep it close to your drawing surface. You’re looking for a pose that feels comfortable and natural so you can maintain it for several minutes at a time. 

Hold your place - As you look into the mirror, draw a red dot in between your eyes on the mirror, so you can return to your original position if you move. You should note where you’re sitting as well. A little masking tape or painter’s tape to mark the feet of your chair allows you freedom to get up and move about. 

Take a snapshot - When you have found a working facial expression, take a snapshot. You may need to refer back to this original pose later on. A friend can help you capture the expression. 

Draw what you see - Draw the shapes you see, not what you think you see. Overcome the illusion of familiarity. 75% of your drawing time should actually be spent looking at yourself in the mirror. 

Draw quickly - Sketch an outline of your features quickly in pencil. The eyes are typically “roughed out” first as they determine how every other feature of your face is aligned. Typically, the space between each eye equals the width of an eye. The tip of your nose should line up to the bottom of your ear. 

Save details for last - Leave the details for last. It can be very easy to focus too much on these parts of your face, but your goal should simply be to get proportions correct. 

Use the best tools - Prismacolor has developed Premier® Soft Core Colored Pencils and Art Marker Portrait Sets specifically for work like this. These premium tools include the colors you need to bring your artwork to life.

Using mirrors may take a little getting used to. That’s part of the process, and as you gain confidence with experience over time, the easier it will come to you.