Every year I assign the self portrait as one of my projects. The students are given a series of exercises practicing the proportions of the human head and face, and contour drawing exercises to explore their own particular features. I also give each student a large digital photo of their face close up. Each student is then given the task of creating their self portrait, either from a small mirror which I provide, or from the digital photo, which must be identifiable as them and no one else, and must be proportionately correct.
This is one of my favorite assignments. It gives students a great sense of accomplishment and pride, and makes for a wonderful personal connection with each student, as we investigate who they are as individuals in their physical characteristics.
A follow up extra credit assignment is to write an essay in which the student compares and contrasts “How I look on the outside versus how I feel on the inside”. This is also accompanied by the student creating a two dimensional mask which fits their self portrait. This mask is to show their inner emotions and personality in a visual way, and can be an enhancement of the written essay.