Project Six – Exercise 2: Your own face

For this exercise I placed myself in front of the bathroom mirror and trying to find interesting poses that I still can manage to observe and draw.

To warm up I did a few 5 min sketches in different media and approaches.

Stefan513593 - project 6 - exercise 2 - sketches in line

Stefan513593 – project 6 – exercise 2 – sketches in line

Stefan513593 - project 6 - exercise 2 - sketches in tone

Stefan513593 – project 6 – exercise 2 – sketches in tone

Face #1

For the first self face drawing I was wondering which media and format to use. My sketches were done in my A4 sketchbook so I wanted to ‘scale up’ smoothly. I decided for A3 format paper. As medium I decided on my experimental combination of graphite and white gouache. I did in this combination my townscape serie (see my post) as well initial sketches on the figure in project 2 ‘longer study’ (see my post). I found that the combination of a wet medium and a dry medium can bring  a special visual effect to the ‘landscape’ of my face. First I placed in the light areas with a middle wider brush white gouache and continued in the still wet surface with a graphite pen. This gave me a quite intimate sensation of modelling the surface like touching the skin and modelling in clay. As I went along the gouache dried and my markings especially in the shadows areas became drier as well, more line oriented and with a slightly different color tone.

I enjoyed my approach and I think I will work more on this combination perhaps in different manners.

Stefan513593 - project 6 - exercise 2 - Face #1

Stefan513593 – project 6 – exercise 2 – Face #1


What could be done better?

I’ve shown this picture to my wife (as she knows quite well my characteristic facial features) and for her it shows quite a liking. However, the left eye is not completely correct and the nose shows a slight disproportional aspect. The overall proportions and angles are correct. The free above the right eye in the shadow area seems a bit awkward and a bit too light. In combination with the background shadow marks (repetition of same markings on the face) this gives the image a certain ambiguity

Do the proportions, angles, tones, etc., work? Note down your thoughts to help you when you begin work on your second self-portrait. Look at it in the mirror and see if there are measuring issues. Look at it upside down and from a distance. This helps you see with different eyes.

Face #2

For the second image I choose an upward view with me looking downward (I tried this out first in my sketchbook). Not that easy to draw but with time and experience I found a way to observe and partly to draw than from memory. I decided to go larger in scale (A2) and for dry medium only: charcoal and Conté crayon. I selected those as I wanted to experiment more in the context of Guy Denning and Kathe Kollwitz (see reference) and see how I could combined both approaches.

I worked heavily back and force first in charcoal and rubber, following by white crayon addition and towards the end I added with sanguine crayon slightly marks for more color on the face. After a while I decided that the drawing was finished, but after the next day I went back, not pleased, and decided to work more on this one.

Stefan513593 - project 6 - exercise 2 - Face #2 - change

Stefan513593 – project 6 – exercise 2 – Face #2 – change

With more expression I worked harder into the surface with white crayon and charcoal till I was satisfied with the final results and the depiction of my mood at that time.

Stefan513593 - project 6 - exercise 2 - Face #2

Stefan513593 – project 6 – exercise 2 – Face #2

Showing this one to my wife she immediately recognised the liking of eyes, nose, mouth. I tried to adjust the length of the neck although measuring in that pose was a challenge.


Comparing the two self-portraits I can see that I approached the subject quite differently. In the first one I worked smoother with the wet/dry combination as if touching my own skin. By that I achieved a quite good representation of myself. In the second one I worked harder in the paper surface to find the forms and expressions more intensively. Besides the different pose, the visual effect is also quite different.


  • Which drawing materials produced the best results? Why?
    => If I have to decide I would say the second one gives the better results as I was able to work harder and more intense on the subject. This reflected a bit my mood at that time. The first one was a bit more delicate (besides scale) that needed a more calm approach from my side. Nevertheless the result achieved was quite head on.
  • I didn’t work on get a liking of myself, I was more into drawing the forms and surface expressions. It astonished me that the liking comes just naturally with the process (compared with my quick 5min sketches were I was perhaps too distant and to absorbed with overall forms)
  • How difficult was it to move on from sketches of individual features to a full
    => After studying the facial features in exercise 1 and having already build different feature together, the final face and head drawing was not that difficult any longer
  • My applied wet/dry combination is harder to control, however I like to visual effect of what it makes to my markings.

Next time:
– Studying different viewpoints either with two mirrors. or what I figured out with a video recorder at any viewpoint and presented on the wall through a projector.


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