DLP Self Portrait Tutorial and Giveaway!

Congratulations Andrea Harris and Karen D.!!! You are one of the winners of a copy of my new book! Please email me at pamcarriker@gmail.com with your mailing info and I’ll send out your book!

The Documented Life Project

Faces, the Human Form and Characters

Self Portrait

Prompt: Mirror Mirror

So excited to be asked to do this weeks journal prompt for The Documented Life Project. They nailed my interest spot on and I am excited to share one of my favorite techniques for creating self portraits in my journals. I’ve added some ways to transfer guidelines and details for those new to drawing faces and much more information is included in my new book for those interested in taking portraits even further. Be sure to see the BOOK GIVEAWAY info at the bottom of this post!


All of the supplies used for this technique

Creating a ‘Selfie’

I’m using one of the mini tutorials from my book, Mixed Media Portraits with Pam Carriker for the inspiration to create a mixed media ‘selfie’ in my art journal. I think it’s fun to incorporate faces into journaling and one of the things I talk about in my book and workshops is about the importance of adding a bit of yourself to your faces. A self portrait doesn’t have to look just like you to be a self portrait! Most of my portraits don’t look just like me but, if you look closely at my faces most of them have a bit of a bump on their noses. This is one of the ways I like to add a bit of myself to my work. The bump on my nose bothered me a lot when I was a teenager but its something I’ve come to embrace as an artist.


Sample ‘Selfies’ in shades of gray (notice they all look a little different but I used the same photo reference for each of them!)

You can often find self love through your art and especially when doing portraits you can learn to love the things about your face that make it different from everyone else’s. I encourage you to embrace your face in this exercise! And it is just that, an exercise, let go of trying to make a pretty face and instead focus on creating an interesting face.


The ‘Mapping Your Selfie’ demo in my book is on page 31 (My book doesn’t come spiral bound, I had that done at Staples for under $5) We are going to be working in Shades of Gray or a Grisaille painting style. In this way we can learn about tonal values, lights and darks as well as facial proportions. This comes in very handy when you add color into the mix and is an important foundation for painting faces.



Firm Flat Colour Shaper tool or similar scraping type tool


6B pencil (I prefer woodless graphite)

Bone folder tool or something to burnish with

Black and white copy of a selfie from your phone

Paint brush(es) I like #8 Filberts or similar medium stiff bristled brush

Fluid Sheer Matt Acrylics, Pam Carriker in White Washed and Barely Black

Mixing palette

Water container

Black masking tape (or other type)

Assorted journaling pens


Prep page with a ‘skim coat’ of gesso, scraping most of it back off. Let dry.


Use a 6B (soft lead) pencil to draw a Face Map on top of the copy of your selfie. You can find complete instructions on mapping a face in my book Mixed Media Portraits with Pam Carriker but for this exercise you will want to draw a circle to represent the head mass (this will begin at the top of the head and end below the nose) Then add an oval to represent the basic plane of the face (this will go from the top of the head to the chin) next add a horizontal midline, vertical lines where the eyes, bottom of nose, and mouth midline are and vertical lines from pupil to the corner of the mouth. I added a circle where the ball of the nose is and you can add a few lines to the mouth and eyes if you like.


Next flip your face map over onto your journal page and burnish the back with a bone folder tool to transfer the graphite lines.


Tape the face map to the left page of your journal to use as a reference. Use the 6B pencil to roughly sketch in some details and add graphic to shaded areas, using the lighting in the photo to guide you. Don’t get overly caught up in making things perfect. This is a rough sketch to lay down some graphite.


Put some white and black paint (I’m using my line of Fluid Matt Sheer Acrylics in White Washed and Barely Black) onto a palette. NOTE: my paints are very fluid and have a bit of an extended dry time so depending on what paints you use your results will vary. If you are using a more heavy bodied acrylic paint, add some water and some glazing medium to it.  Using only white add some paint to the areas that are the lightest in your photograph. Being to blend the white paint into the graphite on the lightest side of the face creating tones or shades of gray. The graphite will easily mix with the white paint because it is laying on top of the gesso.


Continue blending white paint into the darker side of the face, mix it right into the graphite and rinsing your brush as needed to keep from making everything the same value or shade of gray.


Add a bit of black to the white on the palette and add even more tones, or shades of gray to the portrait, extending into the background around the face. Pay more attention to the ‘areas’ of tones than to a line around the face shape, use the photo for a reference.


Add white paint into the black areas in the background and blend.


You can add bits of white to create hair as well.


Use pencil as needed to define face details a bit.


When finished painting you can add journaling notes (I noted the process and supplies used) to the lefthand page.


This is a fast way to create a self portrait in your journal. Remember it doesn’t have to look like you to be a self portrait, whatever it looks like it will have some of you shining through!

Here is a video tutorial of the process


Close up of the ‘selfie’ I did in the video

Cover JPeg

For more information about my book go HERE
PCarriker Matte Fluid Sheer Colours1For more information about my paints and products go HERE


Drawing will take place Friday, September 4th

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