Every artist from Leonardo da Vinci to Andy Warhol painted self-portraits. Whether studying the human face or improving a painting technique, a self-portrait can be an effective way to study poses and expressions of the human subject.

1. Start with a mirror or a photograph. Set the mirror up next to the canvas so it may be easily seen and the portrait can be done with an eye's glance back and forth between canvas and mirror. If using a photograph, place it at an easily viewable place, such as on the easel above the canvas.

2. Sketch lightly a rough drawing of the face on the canvas with a pencil. Once this is achieved, an under painting can be done. An under painting is a monochromatic background on a painting, which will develop the light and dark tones of the painting. Many artists use black and white for under painting. This should be done in a thin layer using more pigment than medium. Let the under painting dry before continuing.

3. Paint the overlying layers of color on the under painting, establish general color tones first and add more details later. Thinning paint with a medium to a less opaque consistency will allow the under painting to blend with the new layer. Remember to paint the background.

4. Add finishing touches with a smaller brush. Details such as eyelashes and highlights in the eyes help to make the portrait look complete.