Printing and Tracing

Once you have some photos to work with, make a choice. I usually try to choose one image that I hate for every two that I think are okay or actually like. Working with the feelings, reactions and impressions we get from seeing ourselves in both lights is equally important. Listen to your gut, not your head, when you look at the photos and decide which to start with.

– PLEASE NOTE – if you have drawing/painting/sculpting experience, you can represent yourself however you please and the process will always bring revelations about how you feel about yourself. The simplified process I’m describing below is particularly for those who don’t know where to begin but who wish to try self-portraiture to open up to seeing themselves in a new light. 

On your computer, save the photo in a new folder where you will be able to find it again. You may need to crop the image to reduce the background so you can focus on the area you want to draw. Then, print it out full-size on a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Black and white is fine, because this photo will serve only be a reference afterwards. (You are the work of art… not the photograph).

– here I will insert an example of colour photo, uncropped

– her I will insert B&W print-out, cropped

Next, trace the silhouette of the printed image onto a new piece of paper which will become your drawing by placing the print underneath. You can use tracing paper, or basic printer/photocopy paper, or thicker drawing papers… start with what you have on hand.

To trace/transfer the image onto thicker, more opaque papers, hold both sheets up against a window, use a sheet of glass with a light behind it, or, if you have access to a light table, it allows to more comfortably copy details. But don’t worry too much about details to start; it’s the outline that is the most important – your shape.

-here I will insert an example of photo using tracing paper-

-here I will insert an example of photo tracing against window pane-

-here I will insert an example of photo using glass + light source-

-here I will insert an example of photo with light table-

Now you have a drawing of yourself to start working with. The scary “blank canvas” stage is passed, and you can start concentrating on getting to know yourself, your face, your body shape, more intimately.

When I first started this process, I didn’t trace, I drew freehand while looking at the photographs, but my proportions and perspectives were often off, and when I started tracing I felt the images looked more like me, showed my true bumps and curves and therefore felt more like me. Of course you are completely free to experiment, find what works best for you, and share it with us if you’d like!



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