How to Draw a Cartoon Self-Portrait

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Self-portraits are a starting point for artists and cartoonists alike.
Self-portraits are a starting point for artists and cartoonists alike. (Image: popovaphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Drawing a self-portrait can be difficult, but it is also one of the first objects of study an artist uses. There are different ways of creating a self-portrait, and creating a cartoon version of yourself is a fun way to do it. Creating a cartoon portrait is much simpler with fewer details but uses more recognizable features and distinct facial characters. Whether you are a beginning artist or a comic book or animation fan, drawing a cartoon self-portrait is a wonderful way to pass some time.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Thick black marker
  • Paper
  • Colored pencils or color markers
  • Mirror or photograph of yourself

Assess your distinct facial features. Using either a mirror or a photo of yourself (straight on is best), take a look at your face and decide what stands out. Do you have big eyes with long eyelashes? Do you have a long nose or a thin upper lip? Assess each part of your face and then decide what is distinct. Use at least five minutes just looking at your face if you have never done a self-portrait before.

Draw the shape of your face. Is the shape of your face circular, or long and rectangular? Draw the shape of your face slightly exaggerated with your pencil.

Fill in the shape of your hair. Your hair is a very distinct feature, especially for women. What kind of hairstyle are you known for? What does it look like? Draw it onto the shape you drew for your head, and exaggerate anything distinct like sideburns or bangs. If you are a person that wears hats a lot, that is also a distinctive feature and one that you are probably well known for.

Fill in basic placement of your features with your pencil. Create the crosshairs of your facial features first (a cross vertically right at the center of the face shape, and one going horizontally where the eyes should be placed). Do this according to the actual placement of your facial features. Now very lightly fill in little circles where each part will go. You will start drawing more specific shapes in the next step.

Exaggerate the distinct features of your face. If you have big eyes, draw them bigger. If you have little eyes, draw them very small. If you have circles under your eyes, make them bigger, or if you have a square chin with a dimple, exaggerate that. If you want to make your portrait somewhat attractive, keep features like the nose within limits–but still distinctly the shape of your nose and placement. Facial hair and beauty marks are extremely helpful for this. Have fun messing with your own facial features.

Outline your drawing with the black marker. This will give it that cartoony look and will also keep your drawing from going too far with details. Try to use as little strokes as possible, as you do not want to give it a "sketchy" or crosshatch look.

Color your drawing and use distinct colors–make sure that the skin tone is obviously yours; that the hair is the same color as your own hair; if you have bright blue eyes, that you use a bright blue color.

Tips & Warnings

  • Another way to color in your portrait is to upload it to your computer and colorize it with photo editing software.
  • Don't expect the first try to be successful. You'll need to do it a few times to get it right.
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