How to Draw Caricatures

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HOW TO DRAW CARICATURESThese kinds of things always start out with a definition, but caricature is a hard thing to pigeonhole into a single sentence. How can you, when the word encompasses the elegant, minimalist lines of Al Hirschfeld to the lavish, value and color soaked paintings of Sebastian Kruger to the graphic, geometrical collages of David Cowles and everything in between? Despite the wild differences in style and technique, caricature is the tag that is placed on any of these works of art without hesitation. Obviously there is a connection beyond a common technique, school or format. So, what are the universal elements all caricatures have that identify them as caricatures? I would say there are three essential elements that transcend style and medium and must be present in a caricature:





Likeness- If you cant tell who it is supposed to be, then it is not successful. All good caricatures incorporate a good likeness of their subjects.

This is the first of a series of articles I will post here on The MAD Blog about my theories, methods concerning caricatures. and how A lot processes to of draw this






exaggeration, or a departure from the exact representation of the subjects features, all you have is a portrait. The level of exaggeration can vary wildly, but there must be some departure. A straight portrait is not a caricature.

information is part of what I teach my theme park artists, so it is derived partly from the approach of doing live, quick-draw caricatures. However all of that can be applied to more studio orientated caricature work and I have also added points world and of concepts directly from the less time-constrained caricature illustration. Therefore this is not instruction for just the live caricaturist but for any artist interested in caricature for any purpose.







editorialize in some way. The artist must be trying to say something about the subject. It might be something to do with the situation the subject is drawn in, it may just be a play on their personality through expression or body language, it might be a simple as making visual fun of some aspect of their persona or image. Exaggeration itself can accomplish this in some cases. The best caricatures say something more about the subject than that they have a big nose. By my definition, a successful caricature therefore looks like the subject, is exaggerated to varying

degrees and also has something to say about the subject some sort of editorial comment. In live caricature at a theme park,

that third item is often turned way down or ignored completely, but in the case of caricatures for illustration, its an important part.

TEACHING SOMEONE TO SEEIve been working with at Ive they draw a square well, that is all about seeing and not drawing. The ability to see, you and see after for that the ability to exaggerate what humorous effect in a caricature that has to be developed. For most that means a lot of drawing looking. Have where comes some you ever crazy, ever and been along with walking along at the mall or somebody and a lot of compared to Mr. Normal, the difference Because would you be are minimal. So why is he so easy? SEEING a difference based on perception, and that is giving you your springboard for a caricature. One observation of what makes this person different from normal, and you are off and running. The obvious features are easy observations its Johnny and Susie Normal or, worse yet, Johnny and Susie Supermodel that are the challenge. That is where developing an ability to see becomes important. There is no face that defies caricature, you just sometimes have to dig a little deeper to find the keys to unlock the more difficult practice puzzle. makes In caricature, the old adage of perfect has never been truer. The ability to see doesnt spring up overnight, and I often tell eager young

young decades

caricaturists now, and

theme parks for over two learned one very important lesson its impossible to teach someone I to draw teach caricatures. can

them to DRAW that isnt so hard. Learning how a face looks and works by learning expression face is at anatomy, changes changes how the the

features, how the angle the perception of features, how hair grows and falls about the head those are things that can be taught. Drawing caricatures, on the other hand, is a lot more about seeing person unique about confident paper. I what in and making marks can makes of it the you is the to front


distinct face that maybe sports a gigantic nose or a Cro-Magnon brow or some other obviously out-of-theordinary features? Caricaturists have a term for that kind of face its called a field day. Think about it for a second why is that face so ripe for caricature compared to the next guys? Are the that features really

personal than on good,



someone exactly how to draw a circle, but if I place a circle before them and ask them to draw it and

different? If you took a ruler and measured the size of Mr. Shnozzess nose

caricaturists about have 500 to

they or so out

have bad first





are general concepts that apply to the overall approach of a caricature as well as specific tricks and tips for individual features and important, that this I main will be of elements parts of

develop their ability to draw them. There are many ways and techniques to help an artist develop their ability to see what is in front of them, makes recognize what they what see

caricatures in them they draw before they start noticing the subtle things that hide inside the ordinary face. Although impossible someone caricatures, I to its say to its teach draw not

sharing over the multiple series articles.

unique and then amplify that uniqueness to create a successful caricature. There

THE FIVE SHAPESThe human face is perceived by many as an incredible complex object. There are about 52 muscles in the face, depending on your source and its categorization. Age, sex, race, expression (the face is capable of about 5,000 expressions) weight and environment can all play a role in the look and perception of a given face. Sounds pretty complex. Not really. Every building, no matter how complex, starts out with a foundation and framework. Look at this simple drawing: Place these shapes in their proper

relationship, and you have a human face. It really is that simple. Drawing the shapes accurately, so they recognizably represent the subjects features, is the basis for a good likeness. Beyond that is nothing but details decor Show that drawing to any human being in the world and ask them what it is. Barring a language barrier, they will tell you its a face. No other information needed. In its most simple form, the human face is made up of only five simple shapes: to things your like dimples, the wrinkles, millwork, eyelashes, cheekbones, etc. They are the building furniture and drapery that makes the place unique and filled with life. Without the strong foundation, however, it can all come tumbling down. What does that have to do with caricature? Everything. I mentioned a single word in the last paragraph that really is the secret to caricature as a whole no matter what technique practice: RELATIONSHIPS Its the manipulation of the RELATIONSHIP of these five simple shapes that create the foundation for your caricature. In fact, Id argue that 90% of the entire caricature or approach you intend to

resides in how you relate these five simple shapes to one another. It is the foundation upon which the rest of your building is built, where the real power of exaggeration is realized. Make it good and almost all the heavy lifting is done, the rest merely referring to details. What do I mean by relationships? I mean the distances between the five shapes, their size relative to one another, and the angles they are at in relationship to the center axis of the face. Distance. Size. Angle.







relationships of the five shapes and create very different caricatures:

In traditional portraiture, the head is divided into classic proportions (well get into that more next time), meaning the relationship of the features are within a certain, No detail, and all the shapes are basically the same with the exception of the head shape (again, more on that later MUCH more) but all are distinctly different and when the details are added will make for highly varied caricatures. The difference is the relationships between the features, and how they have been exaggerated and changed. Caricature is not about choosing one feature and making it bigger, its about all the features together and how they relate to one another. Here are some quick studies of the 5 shapes beneath a few caricature sketches: accepted range of distance to one another, size and angle relative to the face and head shape. You achieve your likeness in a classic portrait, in its most basic form, by correctly drawing the shapes and then the details of each feature according to the model in front of you while staying within the framework of the classic proportions. Of course each face varies minutely here and there, but still you do not stray far from the classic formula. In a caricature, like a portrait, the likeness is also achieved by drawing the features as they really look but you change the relationship of the features based on your perceptions of the face. The relationships you change are as I listed before: