Illustrator Self-Portraits

At Whitfield juniors and seniors in Graphic Design explore traditional graphic design applications, illustration, and basic animation as they learn to identify and interpret visual messaging and utilize design to communicate more effectively.

Recently, students developed their technical skills through a digital illustration project in which they created self-portraits using Adobe Illustrator. To begin, each student selected a photo to use as a reference image. After placing the image into Illustrator, students copied the basic shapes and contours of their photograph and experimented with different brushes to create their hair, skin tone, and other features. The result—realistic, yet stylized, self-portraits.

“This was more of a digital illustration project that refined their skills in Illustrator than a true graphic design project,” said faculty member Cara Foster. “Even though the students are all using the same techniques, they all end up having their own style. Some portraits are very detailed, and some are more simplistic. This is the longest sustained project they have worked on so far this year and it tested their perseverance. They all did a beautiful job!”

For Ian Koppe ’21, the project was both challenging and enjoyable. “This was a difficult project, but it was also very fun to do,” said Koppe. “Creating the skin was the most challenging part for me. It was also kind of weird drawing the shapes, zooming back in, and then remembering that I’m not just tracing over a random image—this is ME.”

Kylie Wagner ’20 and Nina Steinberg ’20 appreciated using their creative problem-solving skills to finish their projects.

“This project was really challenging at first but as I went along it was a lot easier to make changes and add little details to my portrait,” said Wagner. “I selected a fun pose where I was holding a scrunchy—I wanted the challenge of figuring out how to draw my hand.”

Steinberg added, “This was a very detailed project that required us to do a lot of independent problem-solving.  It was challenging and I am glad that I learned the skills.”

Digital self-portrait by Jimmy Li, Class of 2021
Digital self-portait by Jayden Norris, Class of 2021
Digital self-portrait by Eddie Simon, Class of 2021
Digital self portrait by Nina Steinberg, Class of 2020