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

212 responses

  1. I’ve been terrify of doing portraits and specially my self portrait, the hardest part is to get the soul of the person. But after these tutorials I feel like trying and I love the part when you say “your journal is the space where you can experiment without the fear …” Thanks!!!

  2. Pam, You make this look so easy!! I have been putting off this challenge, because I am scared of doing it!! thanks for the great tutorial!!

  3. Oh my, it’s fun when you go hunting for a reference as a guide and find the perfect place to get started. I’ve been wanting to learn about Grisaille underpainting as well as how to draw a portrait that is mapped out correctly. Your book would answer many questions I am sure. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. Warm regards…., ~ Karla

  4. This was truly amazing!! Thanks so very much for agreeing to be a part of The Documented Life Project! Your step-by-step and video directions make me feel confident that I can do this as well. What a joy to have you as our Featured Artist and I just know that you have inspired so many. I will definitely be getting your book! Again, thanks so very much!!

  5. Beautiful! Very exciting giveaway! I really enjoyed seeing the dark/shaded part of the eye in the self portrait. Comparing the two pictures section by section was fun to do for me. I know that sounds strange but I enjoyed looking from picture to picture and comparing the shades and areas of shading and darkening.

  6. When i started doing art (after always insisting that i couldnt draw anything), i then said that i would never be able to draw faces. Love breaking down all my resistance!

  7. Hello! This is right up my art alley! I am practicing painting people and portraits this summer to try and get better at it. LOVE the tutorial and THANKS for the offer.

  8. Wow – such a helpful process – I would LOVE to win your book. Creating faces is one of my growth goals that I’m focusing on. Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Yikes! Self Portrait. This is pressing me way outside my comfort zone. Thank you for this tutorial and sharing it with all of us at DLP.

  10. Pam I have been wanting to do a self portrait for years and nothing worked — this tutorial is great – I’m going to give it a try tomorrow….thanks so much

  11. I recently saw your new book online & would love to have it!!!!! What a wonderful Divine Coincidence that you are doing the tutorial this week for DLP. You are incredibly skillful in your portrait drawings; I love the play between the graphite & white paint. So fun!!!!! I also love your loose method with both pencil and paint. Does the graphite need fixative after completion or will it stay in place in the art journal? Tx so much!!!! xoxo

  12. Thanks so much for this detailed tutorial! I have never done a self portrait but I am going to try it for the first time! A little nervous, but also excited. Thanks again!

  13. Thanks so much for this detailed tutorial. I have never done a self portrait but I am going to try it for the first time! A little nervous, but also excited! Thanks again.

  14. What a wonderful treat and welcomed surprise to get a mini-class/tutorial from you on DLP. I have one of your books and DVD I reference often. Thanks for making something challenging, to me, as drawing faces more relaxing. Love what you do.

  15. Thank you SO much for the details Pam. I can use all this to return to as I practice! Much appreciated.
    Ps will try to track down your paints as the colours look amazingly rich and deep.

  16. Thanks so much for the tutorial. Always love your comprehensive teaching style…and would love a copy of the new book!

  17. Pam, love how this is broken down. Your book is amazing and very helpful. I have started a “Drink & Draw” group at our local coffee shop because of YOU. A signed copy of your book would be an awesome “give-a-way” gift to someone in my coffee shop group. Will be trying this technique soon. Thanks again.

  18. This is wonderfully inspiring! I, too have a bump on my nose which I hated as a child! I used to work out how to stand in relation to others so that I disguised it! Now, it’s part of who I am! Off to take a selfie and dive in! Xx

  19. Hi Pam: I bought your book when it came out at Amazon and I really appreciate all the suggestions you give to experiment and try different techniques for drawing and painting faces. Truly inspiring and very helpful for someone like myself just discovering mixed media. Your tutorials are an added bonus. Thank you!

  20. I love drawing faces and found your tutorial very helpful, also I would love to try your line of paints, I’m in queensland, Australia. I know derivan are made here, and I go to shops that sell derivan matisse paints, the flow and structure paints, but I’m having trouble finding your line.Don’t know if you can help with this. Thanks

  21. Thanks for the tutorial, I loved the way that you transferred the graphite lines from the photo to the journal page to make the process easier. I am not very confident with my drawing, so I think that a few guidelines would provide a good guide to a better result.

  22. Thanks great tutorial. I am currently painting a lot of portraits so this has been very useful to me thank you 🙂

  23. What an interesting process, Pam! I’ve never done a self Portia, but after watching your video, I think I’m going to try it. Thanks for the chance!

    Hugs, Carmen L

  24. I spotted the packaging immediately and wondered what products you were using. They look great! Thanks for sharing this lesson with us.

  25. This is an amazing tutorial, thank you so very much!! I will share it with others too. Thank you for the giveaway. .you are so generous (Ampersand Crafts on fb) 🙂

  26. My friend just bought your new book and is raving about it! I got the new “faces” magazine and am learning as much as I can from the wonderful tutorials included; including yours or course!

  27. I started with you when I decided it was time to try portraits, and I keep coming back to you for more guidance. So glad you were the guest this week and thank you for the chance to win you book. Loved the videos.

  28. I haven’t done a SP since high school. I think I could done now after reading your demo. Thanks for the tips they have given me the courage to try one now and I’m 67. Boy will it be shocking to see them side by side if I can find the journal in which the 16 yr old me was done.

  29. I am looking forward to playing with your portrait ideas! Thank you for your giveaways! Of course, I hope I win a copy of your book!

  30. I’m currently building the long overdue website for my optometric practice. I have been taking casual photos for years and have many of my photos that I can use for the website. What I do NOT have is anything resembling a portrait of me, the doctor. I am going to start practicing this technique and may be able to come up with something prior to sitting for a “professional photo portrait” (gag). Very very interesting–thank you so much for the insights! (you can see the work in progress on the website at dr-wrightnour.com)

  31. Wow, I have been kind of stagnant and not able to enjoy any time in my art room. When my emotions get the best of me, I avoid creating. After watching this video, I went straight in to give it a go. I used this technique and I am thrilled with how they turned out. I am so very grateful for your teaching. It was just what I needed at just the right time! Thank you immensely!

  32. I am definitely going to try your technique. It’s the most interesting I’ve ever seen and you make it look so doable!

  33. So glad to see you do a tutorial of a self portrait in the DLP. I am new to this group this year, but I’m not new to you. I also started with your first two books (well at least the first two that I saw of yours…on journaling and also have your portrait book already. I love it and whoever wins this give-a-way will be very lucky to receive it. I think you have a great style of teaching and I also get so much from your books and videos!! Thank you for doing all that you do!!

  34. Love your tutorial. I can’t wait to try mixing the white with graphite. The face mapping makes so much sense. I really really could use your book. Im going to cross my fingers and toes.

  35. You are so generous thank you Pam ,I’ve forwarded this to a friend I know it will help her it’s so well laid out…

  36. Pam, thank you for this awesome tutorial. Faces intimidate me, but I love how everyone shares their talents and techniques so generously here!! I am definitely a visual learner, so this is a huge help! Thank you again!

  37. Wow!! I’m going to get started straight away! I’ve never been very good at portraits but you make it look so easy! I also cant believe how easy it is to open my computer and immediately receive instruction from someone as talented as you, from the other side of the world! (Australia) What a wonderful world we live in!!

  38. Im so happy you are a featured artist on DLP! I’ve admired your work for so long, but drawing faces just hasn’t appealed to me – BUT – following your technique, I’m going to give it a try! I know it is never as easy as you make it look – thank you for giveaway too, Pam – so sweet of you!

  39. What an amazing technique for helping people draw faces. As soon as my 2 year old grandson goes home I’m going to study this in a lot more detail. Thanks Pam.

  40. Thank you for the tutorial! I am anxious to get to my art table and give it a try.
    Thanks for the chance to win your book!

  41. I love the book and all your art. I have my book and I am working in my sketch book right here on vacation. So thank you for all your hard work.

  42. Love your portraits. The other day I was going through the details of your book on amazon. I really would love to have one.

  43. Wow such a unique way of creating your portrait, so fascinating… To win would be delicious… Thank you for your amazing lesson and the chance to win a signed copy… yum yum

  44. Pam thank you so much for being our Featured Artist this week – you are so generous with sharing your amazing talent and I know our Members will love the giveaways! I have my moleskine, white paint, graphite and filbert in front of me at this very moment to give it a try – THANK YOU!

  45. Thank you for the tutorial. It’s wonderful to watch you in real time, while you are explaining your process. Thank you, too, for the chance to win your book!

  46. Pam- Thank you so much for being a Featured Artist this week! What an informative and education post you created for us. It is so appreciated. I have learned so much about values this month and was happy to see that you are continuing the lessons. Thank you again!!

  47. You have a signature style and it was wonderful to watch you work! Haven’t tried this technique…I’ve always used black and white paint before… so now I have to get busy! thanks for the opportunity to be entered for your give away!

  48. I am so excited to try this method of drawing/painting! I love your video, watching you create as you explained everything. I would love to own your book.Thank you for sharing and being the featured guest on DLP.

  49. Hi Pam, I’ve been waiting all month for you to be the guest artist. Faces – just your thing and I knew the DLP group would include. I had to wait all month, but it was worth it. Thanks

  50. i would love to someday be able to paint my granddaughter. you are the master and i sure would love to learn from you. thanks for the chance to win this book, what a great start it would be. xox

  51. Loved your tutorial. Your fluid paints look awesome! I like the idea that they dry with a matte finish. I have to try them out!

  52. I am so thrilled you were able to join us as a Featured Artist this year Pam! Your work is truly amazing and it was so lovely to follow along with your process. You were truly generous in your sharing with us. Thank you so much !

  53. I was soon excited to see that you were the DLP guest artist! I loved hearing you explain your painting as you went, as well as the product help….your acrylics look fantastic. I have a bump on my nose and am now interested in learning to paint it, and to embrace how cool it could make my paintings look:)

  54. I love your teaching style and this tutorial is great. Faces are something I want to tackle and you make it look very doable. Thanks for the reminder that we don’t need to achieve perfection.

  55. Oh my, I must try this!! Maybe I can finally get a picture for facebook that I like! Thank you for the tutorial!!!!

  56. Good that it doesn’t have to look like the person you’re drawing, because it never would. Love the face mapping idea.

  57. Your books have always helped me to face a blank page when I can’t come up with anything myself…which happens a lot. The great thing about doing something from your books is I always learn something that I can apply. I haven’t gotten your Portraits book yet but it is on my list…

  58. Hi Pam: love this post !!! have your “Creating Art at the Speed of Life” and lovelovelove it !!! I made my own journal for it and have really enjoyed working thru the book – slowly but enjoying every bit of it : ) I’m currently taking a “drawing” class at our community college and truly having a great time.
    I’ve had your new “Portraits” book in my cart for a while but would be thrilled to win a copy : ) thank you for the opportunity !!!!!

    Blessings, Sandra in AZ : )

  59. Wonderful tutorial. Your techniques, the face mapping, is new to me and looks like it will be a valuable tool as I attempt to paint faces.

  60. Faces are my favorite things to paint. You have inspired me to try something different (for me). I usually shy away from using just black/white/shades of gray, but I’m looking forward to giving this a try! Thank you!

  61. I really love your teaching style. Being a bit intimidated by faces, I like how you said it doesn’t have to look exact but some of me will shine through.

  62. Great idea using just a part of yourself in the painting. It helps knowing practice is how to grow but trying to make it look just like yourself is very hard since that only comes with practice. You have eliminated the catch 22 and I have lots of things about my face that make it different (I don’t like) and they would be fun to add to a face for practice. Your book sounds wonderful.

  63. Pam, I loved your tutorial!! I took your and Mary Beth’s class in April at Ephemera in Paducah, KY. I was totally new to mixed media at that time. I have been working a lot in the art journal we started in that class. Your instructions have helped me so much. I love the tonal portraits you had in your art journals, and this tutorial helps even more!! You have a knack for making the complex simple. Your products are great, and I use them a lot!!! Thank you, Pam!!!

  64. Thanks so much for being the guest artist this week! Your work is beautiful and I love the simplicity of limited media.

  65. Wonderful tutorial! I will be sharing with my high school art students to encourage more confidence in their portrait drawing and journaling. Thank you so much for sharing.

  66. Don’t know where I have been but I was not familiar with your work and I should have been as I love doing faces……they look nothing like yours but as you say it takes practice… One day I want a wall like yours with all my faces framed and hung up…..loved the tutorial as there was so much information and knowledge……thanks so much….also I will try your paint as I live in AZ and paint drying to fast is always as issue….

  67. I really enjoyed watching your video…makes this process look possible. Ready to give it a try in my own journal. Always a fan!

  68. What a detailed and fabulous tutorial on this subject. I’m sure many of us balk when trying to do faces. It’s great to give ourselves the freedom to capture some quality or essence without needing it to be a dead-ringer for the face we’re making art of. Thanks so much!

  69. I love your style of teaching because you are not only a great artist but you make us feel like , yes we can do this. Thankyou for sharing and for the chance to win.

  70. Love the black and white scheme, this is something I’d rather do than go for “real” skin and shadow tones, especially since faces feel intimidating as they are. Cool and easy way to transfer the image, must try, thanks!

  71. Wow Pam, this reminds me of my first class with you on portraits where I learned soooo much. You have a gift for teaching and your tutorials are remarkable and easy to navigate. I love the idea of burnishing the charcoal pattern onto the paper. Your color palettes are so inviting…loving the grays. Must check out your line of paints…and thanks for the chance to win the book!! Cheers-Darlene

  72. Pam, I so love your style!!! Your drawings and paintings are so inspiring!!! Thank you for sharing your process with us. And thanks for a chance at winning one your books!!!

  73. I am fascinated by how easy you make this look, even though it appears complicated to me. Still, I am beginning to understand the science of it all. There is as a balance to it that I believe, as one follows the instruction without pondering the outcome, the outcome will be delightful!

  74. Brilliant thankyou. I get too wrapped up in thinking a selfie portrait should be perfect and true to life. I never thought to just add one small part of myself. Great advice.

  75. Pam! Your new Flow Matt paints & dvds are fabulous! What a terrific idea to “spiralize” the book. I’ve so enjoyed your two previous books & look forward to this new one on my favorite painting subject – portraits. A workshop in Texas would sure be great, but I’m so grateful for all the on-line classes and dvds.

  76. thank you for being part of DLP, for sharing your selfie process and for the chance to win one of your books

    my email when / if I’m a lucky winner is ArtistPoet (dot) Girl (at) gmail (dot) com

  77. What a fabulous tutorial..this I am going to do..im always so intent on getting it right or perfect.that i avoid doing portraits altogether..you made it seem intriguing and fun to make it more quirky..and that really is appealing..Thanks so much..

  78. This tutorial makes faces feel actually possible instead of impossibly scarey! Thank you for sharing on the Documented Life!

  79. wow What a beautiful and stunning portrait and technique… I’ve definitely added your book to my wish list!

  80. Wow the process becomes simpler the way you explain it! Faces are so hard to draw. But your steps help. Thank you and thank you for a chance to win your book!

  81. I’ve always liked working in monochrome. Love your tutorial and would be so happy if I were lucky enough to win your book. Thanks for this opportunity! Hugs, Fiona

  82. Hi Pam, so glad you are guesting on The Documented Life Project. I’ve been working through their prompts all year…some very challenging, some right in my comfort zone and a few that didn’t fit me at the moment. I am so pleased for your success and the acknowledgement of other artists as the introduce you to their followers.

  83. I learn a lot by watching and trying. The video in DLP is much appreciated! I use you face mapping. Face mapping has given me the tools to paint faces– something I have worked toward and see progress in. Thank you!

  84. What a wonderful and laid back tutorial. I appreciate your reminders that it does not have to be perfect, and we need to give the eye some interesting things to find. I was lucky enough to have been able to take two classes with you at Art Is You, and your online tutorials and books are nearly as easygoing yet informative as learning from you in person. Nothing quite takes the place of in-person, but you have definitely made your books and tutorials a close second. Thank you.

  85. Fantastic tutorial and video. You are a wonderful artist and teacher. I would be honored to own your book, it will be put to good use teaching me the many things I’m eager to learn. Thank you for this opportunity.

  86. Wow, just an amazing blog, filled with great ideas! Loved it! Can’t wait to try out some of the suggestions when I wake up (itis 2 am here…the dog just woke me up!):)

  87. Love your style! Can’t wait to go watch the video and experiment your technique! Have been dying for one of your books!

  88. Love your idea of making the face interesting vs “pretty”. Always enjoy your classes and books- wish you were teaching at more venues again. Oh well. Would live a copy of the new book!

All comments are read and greatly appreciated!

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