Selfie Sketch: Creating a painted sketched self portrait of yourself

Hello again!

Tiffany here and today I’ll be showing you a different way to create a self portrait using a headshot photo of yourself. In the last Get Messy Survey, one thing that many of you asked for were ways to include photos into your journals. Since it’s the Season of Story, I wanted to share a way that you can include a photo of yourself, but at the same time, keep true to the artsy self portrait. The following is something I used to do as a kid to practice portraiture. Essentially, I would take front-facing photo of a celebrity from a magazine, cut it in half down the middle, glue one half to a piece of drawing paper, and then use the other half as a reference to then draw in that half of the face. This was something I did for practice, so I hope that doesn’t deter you away from having a go at drawing in half of your face!

Selfie Sketch: Creating a painted sketched self portrait of yourself


  • Your journal
  • A front-facing headshot photo of yourself (I printed mine on white cardstock. Matte photo paper will work too)
  • Drawing paper
  • An assortment of drawing pencils (ranging from 2B-9B, great for shading)
  • Collage material that represents who you are
  • Matte acrylic paint or watercolors to add color
  • A waterproof pen (I used a simple ballpoint pen)
  • White gesso
  • Scissors


Before we get into the the portrait drawing of ourselves, I want us all to build a background spread in our journals. Now, you want to use a full two page spread for this since it’ll be easier to fit the entire photo of yourself. My go-to background of course is collage, but you can build yours up however you like. The only criteria is that you use elements and colors that represent who you are. So for my collage, I opened to a spread in my journal that had a blank page on one side and an old book page (of Shakespeare Sonnets) on the other. The Sonnets page is very telling of myself and my story, as I’ve been reading Shakespeare since my 2nd grade teacher introduced me to it in 1st grade, and I’ve loved it ever since. So I really wanted to make use of that page.

For my collage bits, I used things that I think represent me and my current style: sheet music (as I’m a musician), vintage pink, and black and white florals, a white doily…I’m all about that soft, vintage, shabby chic vibe, so of course I wanted to incorporate that into my self portrait. We’ll be building up this background in bits, as I want you to also do some journaling over your collage, then white it out a bit with some gesso before adding in your self portrait drawing. So on a separate sheet of drawing paper is where we’ll be gluing down half our face and drawing out the rest. I ended up adding a bit of color to my self portrait sketch to fix a few smudges that just wouldn’t erase. I used matte acrylic paints so that I could still draw over the color with pencil. I highly suggest you use matte paint or watercolors if you are going to add color to your portrait sketch, but still want to be able to continue drawing over it. Any other finish will make it difficult to draw over it with pencil. In video below, I’ll walk you through this process.

I kept the portrait of myself pretty straightforward, but you can definitely play around with it. It doesn’t have to be a photorealistic portrayal of yourself, you can sketch your self however you please, but it should be a representation of you. I really hope this tutorial was straightforward and an easy way to sketch yourself. Feel free to use this cut-photo-in-half technique to continue to practice drawing portraits, if that is something that interests you. It’s definitely great practice!

Selfie Sketch: Creating a painted sketched self portrait of yourself

Action Steps

Choose a front-facing headshot photo of yourself and have a go at sketching half of your face, adding color to it or not. A self portrait is a representation of you, but not all of who you are, so have fun creating one that represents a part of who you are now.


Tiffany is an artist of many trades living in New York City with an absolute passion for documenting her everyday life. A traveller to the core, she loves documenting her various journeys around the world in thick handmade travel journals bursting with photos, memories, and travel ephemera.

1 Comment

  1. Suzanne Earley

    Once I got over being intimidated and then figured out what story I wanted to tell with my self portrait spread, this ended up being a lot of fun to do. Thank you! <3