Drawing 1, Part 4: Exercise 9

For this exercise, we were asked to make a couple of sketches of our face, using a mirror. I made three sketches, two in pencil and one in charcoal.

I looked in the mirror whilst sketching, which was an interesting challenge. I don’t think I have ever looked at my reflection so intensely or intimately before.

Here are the preliminary sketches:

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6B pencil

In this image I focused on using my pencil on its edge to represent shadows. There are few hard edges and the whole image looks very soft.

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6B pencil

This image was not so successful, as the mouth looks strange. Again, I used the edge of the pencil and the effect is quite soft.

I do not really like the above two images, as pencil is not my favourite medium. I find it dull and inspiring, probably because there is no colour, and I am definitely a colour person.

For the next sketch I used charcoal.

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Charcoal self portrait

I look rather stern on this portrait, probably because I was observing myself, and concentrating very hard. I prefer the effect of the charcoal, but again, I dislike the absence of colour. The lines are more defined, but there is still a softness about the image.

The above images are all A4.

For the final self portrait, I worked in my A3 sketchbook, in biro pen and watercolour wash. I first sketched the features in the biro pen, observing my face very carefully. I enjoy working with biro, it blends nicely with watercolou. I then added layers of washes and some watercolour detail in the eyes. I started with the skin tones, paying careful attention to where the highlights would fall. I painted the shadows, gradually building up the layers. I then added the lips, eyes, hair and clothes.

Here is the final self portrait:

self portrait in biro pen and watercolour

I am pleased with the final portrait. The skin has interesting textures, and it does resemble my face. I love the colour, especially the pink tones. The green shirt contrasts nicely with the pink skin and hair tones.

It has been an interesting exercise, and it is a good way of building up observational skills.


  1. Gosh, how interesting to see the different portraits. The colour one is definitely successful, but I would not say the others are uninspiring .Good exercise.


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