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How to Draw Caricatures: Mouths

Friday, January 21st, 2011

This series of “How to Draw Caricatures” tutorials are a just a small taste of a larger and much more in-depth book I wrote called The Mad Art of Caricature! The book is 175 full-color pages, lavishly illustrated and contains greatly expanded explanations of the concepts presented in these tutorials, as well and a great deal of additional material on caricaturing other facial features, posture, hands, expression and more, techniques on drawing from live models, doing caricature for freeplace illustration and for MAD Magazine. This is a must have book for anyone interested in caricature, cartooning or humorous illustration. You can order it online here.

Part Five: Drawing Mouths

Like all features, mouths follow certain tendencies with regards to the subject’s sex, race, and age. More so than the other features, the mouth changes RADICALLY with expression. It is by far the most expressive part of the face, even more than the eyes. As a result, drawing the mouth becomes not only an exercise in observation of its structure, but sensitivity to its projection of the subject’s emotions. The real key to capturing “personality” in a caricature rests in the eyes and mouth. When a live caricaturist hears the magic words from the friends of their subject exclaim: “He ALWAYS has that look on his face! THAT’S HIM!” you know you just read the subjects expression right and captured it in the drawing. That is what you strive for… not just the likeness, and not just exaggeration, but CHARACTER… PERSONALITY. That is what makes a drawing come to life and spring from the surface of the paper. Mouths are a central part of this, both in and of themselves and more importantly how they are relating to the rest of the face.

The mouth is a complex feature. It’s made up of bones, muscles and tissues that create many distinct elements like teeth and lips, which vary widely with variables like age, which in turn interact in many different ways depending on expression. When I talk about the mouth, I am also including the musculature around the mouth, connecting it to the nose, cheeks and chin. Drawing the mouth basically finishes off the interior of the face, the center of likeness and expression.

The Anatomy of a Mouth

As with all features, it is very useful to understand the structure and anatomy of that which you are trying to caricature. Knowing the names of the muscles and bones are not really important, but understanding where they are, how they work and what you are really seeing is the best kind of foundation for a good drawing of anything.

Let’s start with the underlying anatomy, the teeth and surrounding bone (fig.1). The Mandibula and Mandible (jaw bone) is the only movable bone in the face/skull. It has several specific features, including the Ramus (The rear jaw that connects to the skull), the Angle (point at which the jaw angles toward the chin), the Mental protuberance (chin), the Mental tubercle (hollow area under and behind the chin) and the Lower dental arch (area below bottom teeth). The upper bones of the mouth are part of the larger skull. They include the Upper dental arch (area just above the teeth), the Maxilla (area above dental arch, under nose and nostrils) and the Coroniod and Condyliod processes (where the law bones and skull connect.) Humans have two sets of teeth, (three if you count dentures), that appear at different points in their lives. The first set are deciduous or temporary (baby) teeth, and the second are permanent teeth. There are 20 deciduous teeth and 32 permanent teeth. They all have names and distinct positions and features, but for our purposes there are only six teeth that are prominent and visible enough for us to be concerned with in the adult mouth. They are the upper four incisors and first two upper cuspids, commonly called the canines or eye teeth. These six teeth generally are what you see when a subject smiles. Other teeth are not as important to a caricature as what little of them might be visible are overpowered by the prominence of the afore mentioned six. Still, if you want to learn the names of all the teeth, knock yourself out. Your dentist will love you. (more…)

On Caricaturing Women

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

All these short tutorials are part of a larger and much more in-depth book I wrote on how to draw caricatures called The Mad Art of Caricature! now available to order online.

One of the most common problems I hear about from other caricaturists is that women are harder to draw than men. Many struggle to make their caricatures of women look feminine, and often feel their female subjects look like “drag queens”.

I think it’s a myth that women, particularly beautiful women, are harder to caricature than men. Women have the same sets of features that men have, but the need to differentiate the masculine from the feminine forces the caricaturist to modify his or her approach (in most cases) to the different sexes. That doesn’t mean that it’s more difficult to draw either sex than it is to draw the other, but you do have to keep the masculine/feminine difference in mind if you want to avoid the “drag queen” look that sometimes results in a caricature of a woman.

Superficially there are a lot of facial elements that identify a given subject as male or female. Thick eyelashes, full red lips, soft complexion, high cheekbones, more curved and thinner eyebrows… these are feature descriptions that are distinctly “feminine”.  You may notice these items have one thing in common… they are all features that women traditionally use makeup to accentuate or to create. If women don’t have them in abundance naturally many use makeup to create them or to accentuate what they do possess. Take your cues from what makeup artists do to see what kinds of features say “female” (and conversely what to avoid on a male caricature to prevent them from looking feminine). If I am drawing a man who happens to have thick, long eyelashes (many do) I will play that DOWN in many cases to accentuate the masculine in the drawing.

These are only superficial things, though. The real differences between men and women’s faces lay under the skin… with the bones and the skull. This is the basis of the “drag queen” look… the human eye and brain is able to differentiate between a male and female face based on difference and indicators that are more than surface features. Hence a drawing of a face with lot’s of female makeup level features on the surface but with the structure and other aspects of a typical male face looks like a man wearing makeup.

Skeletal differences between the sexes are well documented. It’s not just the different chromosomes that are behind it, either… the high levels of testosterone at puberty help enlarge the bones of males, while the high levels of progesterone also help develop male characteristics like greater height and a narrower pelvic bone. The differences also extend to the skull, which is actually the second easiest part of the skeleton forensic scientists can use to determine the probable sex of a skeleton, the pelvis being the first (learned that on NCIS!). In fact the mandible (jaw bone) alone gives examiners a 90% accuracy in determining the sex of a skeletal subject.

The female skull is generally smaller and lighter than the male’s. Elements like the brow ridge and mandible are usually less pronounced. The female skull tends to be wider than the male’s which leads to a general softness of features, more prominent cheekbones and a less prominent jawline. The areas above the eye sockets in men tend to be more blunt while the brow itself is more pronounced, but in women that same area is sharper (thus the purpose of “eye shadow”) while the brow protrudes less.

The jaw is actually a key element to the masculine/feminine definition of a subject, and represents the most dynamic differences between the faces of the sexes. The combination of the wider skull, the less developed mandible and the propensity of the female chin (mental protuberance) to be smaller and more pointed as opposed to a man’s wider and more square one makes the female jaw distinct from the male jaw. The upper (top part of the) chin is wider and higher vertically while a female’s is more rounded and shorter. In fact the male chin is generally larger in every dimension. Big, square jaws inevitably read as masculine and small, narrow and pointier ones read as feminine.


Jackie O‘s features are classic feminine

Features themselves are also different, often as a result of the skull variance but sometimes of their own accord. Female noses, for example, are generally less angular and the tip is smaller and softer. They have a tendency to be pointier, narrower and vertically shorter (closer to the eyes) than a man’s nose.


Spencer Grammer has a small, understated nose, small chin and
wide face that says “female”

So, what does all this mean in terms of a caricature? Since caricature is all about exaggeration, it makes sense that if you want a subject to be more feminine you should downplay the things that make a face masculine and play up those things that make it feminine. Sounds like distortion, or the exaggeration of features based not on the what the subject’s features demand but on some other preconceived notion (which I constantly preach against), doesn’t it?

Some rules to drawing faces need to apply in order for the end result to be read as what it is intended to be read as. Drawing kids has certain rules you cannot break (or must break with only the most demanding of reasons) if you expect your caricature to look like a kid and not some weirdly deformed adult. Same thing with women. While it’s true that some women’s faces with bend and even break some of these “rules”, knowing the general rules will allow the observer to look for them and understand their meaning. If you are drawing a women with an enormous square jaw you can hardly ignore it, but you can look for the other typical female attributes you can then play up to balance things… or you can just exaggerate that enormous jaw and know your caricature is going to end up looking like Jessie Ventura in a wig. Hey, if the SUBJECT looks like Jessie Ventura in a wig you can’t do much about that. At least you know WHY the caricature doesn’t look feminine. You break the rules at your own risk, but you do have to break them when the situation calls for it.

Some examples of Breaking the Rules:

In this one of Rihanna I exaggerated her chin,
but the other rules are in place to help compensate.

This Lena Headley looks distinctly masculine… too many harsh angles

While the nose on Scarlett Johansson is not very feminine, the other features
compensate… cheekbones, lips, eyes, eyebrows. Chin is bigger but jaw still small.

So, what are the rules for making a caricature of a woman look feminine? The obvious thing is stay away from making the jaw, brow ridge and chin bigger or more pronounced in a woman’s caricature, and if possible even make these elements a little smaller. When possible play up those features that makeup is meant to enhance, like the sharper areas in the corners of the brows (eyeshadow), higher and more curved eyebrows (shaped eyebows), fuller lips especially the upper lip (lipstick), longer thicker eyelashes (mascara and eyeliner), higher more pronounced cheekbones (blush or rouge), less prominent nose (powder or base that used to avoid highlights that show the edges and draw attention).


Despite the “walleyes” this drawing shows the exaggeration and
understatement of the eyes, nose and mouth to accentuate the
femininity of the subject.

Personally I always strive to make a woman’s face SOFTER than a man’s. I stay away from harsh, angular lines and features in a woman’s caricature and use softer, more rounded lines and forms to define the face. I try to use fewer lines and elements that define edges of features.  With a linear style of drawing, In general the more lines you use in the face the more masculine (and older) the subject looks. If I want my subject to look more feminine, I will seek to define the features with are few lines as possible. It’s an old trick of filmmakers to use softer light and slightly out of focus (or vaseline-smeared lensed) camera on close ups of women to create a dreamy and sultry look to them… it eliminates the hard edges of features.


The ultimate feminine face? This caricature of Marilyn Monroe hardly has
Any lines inside the face. It’s all softness and suggested features.

Caricaturing a subject is, as always, defined by the demands the subject’s features and persona demand of the artist. However that does not mean the caricaturist cannot approach a subject a little differently, and look for specific things they might expect to see, based on things like the age or sex of the subject. Understanding human perceptions and what’s behind them with respect to things like male versus female faces only brings another source of observational power to the artist.

Here are some other examples of caricatures of women:


Kim Basinger has the eyes, brows, smallish nose, lips and chin
of the textbook female type


Fergie has a hard jaw, large brow and wide chin for a woman


Soft curves and understated features dominate this sketch of Lucille Ball

A somewhat hard chin but doe eyes and cheekbones make
this drawing of Winona Ryder look distinctly feminine


Another classic feminine face: Audrey Hepburn


Despite the bulbous nose, the other features of
Hayden Panettiere are soft and feminine

How to Draw Caricatures: Noses

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Pre-Order my Book Today!

This series of “How to Draw Caricatures” tutorials are a just a small taste of a larger and much more in-depth book I wrote called The Mad Art of Caricature! The book is 175 full-color pages, lavishly illustrated and contains greatly expanded explanations of the concepts presented in these tutorials, as well and a great deal of additional material on caricaturing other facial features, posture, hands, expression and more, techniques on drawing from live models, doing caricature for freeplace illustration and for MAD Magazine. This is a must have book for anyone interested in caricature, cartooning or humorous illustration. You can order it online here.

Part Five: Drawing Noses

In this next (and long delayed) installment of my “How to Draw Caricatures” series of tutorials we will examine the ever popular and often abused nose.

I think the most common feature that gets exaggerated in a caricature is the nose. Many people actually think the definition of caricature is a drawing with a big nose. What is it about the nose that makes it such a ripe target for exaggeration, so often picked on (pardon the pun) that even the layman notices? Simply put, the nose is the most obnoxious of features. It sits in the very center of the face. It is a very vertical feature when compared to the horizontal nature of the eyes and mouth. It sticks out radically from the plane of the face, much more in relief than any of the other features. It’s so prominent that it’s all too often used as a de-facto way to “exaggerate” the face. The fact is that the nose is like any other feature… its perceived relationship with the other features determines the extent and direction of the exaggeration. Many people have small, button noses that need to be made smaller by way of exaggeration. In some cases the end of the nose may rest close in between the eyes, and in others it’s very far way down the face. Some people have big, honking schnozzes that need to be stretched. In short, despite its prominence the nose is no different that the other features… it must be exaggerated and drawn in the manner the feature itself calls for.

The Anatomy of a Nose

Anatomy of a Nose

The nose is a combination of bone and cartilage made up of various parts that while unique in appearance and relationship in the individual nonetheless, as in any feature, are the same in all people. Starting from the top, the area between the eyebrows is called the glabella. The area directly between the eyes is the root or bridge. The area extending from the root down towards the end of the nose is called the lateral surfaces. The end or “ball” of the nose is called the apex. The two “wings” of the nose, the areas that define the outside of the bottom of the nose and the outside of the nostrils are called the ala. The septum is the area that connects the apex to the face and separates the two nostrils, which are the cavities that open into the interior of the nose and the nasal passages. The alar furrow is the crease made by the separation of the ala and the cheek muscles. The nose “grows” out of the brow, and is connected at the top of the feature by the brow ridge and at the bottom, to the lips/mouth by the philtrum and the nasolabial furrow. The upper part of the nose, including the brow, glabella and root is bone… the “root” or bridge protrudes from the brow of the skull and then ends about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down the nose itself. After that the nose is all cartilage and soft tissue. Because cartilage continues to grow throughout your life, your nose continues to grow and will alter shape as you age (ears are the same way). That is why many older people have larger noses, and why drawing a larger nose on someone makes them look older in the drawing.

(more…)

Sunday Mailbag

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Q: I have a lot of trouble with facial hair AND head hair! I seem to freeze up when someone sits with 5 o’clock shadow beard or shaved head. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

A: That question is difficult to answer because, like so many “how do I draw this…” inquiries, the answer is so dependent on the style of drawing. Someone with a more illustrative, involved style of drawing could not use the same techniques as someone who does a very cartoony style, or one that does a more graphic style. Therefore when answering such questions I invariably describe how I would do it, based on my style of drawing. You will have to take what you can from it and figure out your own solution. Many of the principals will apply to any style, though.

Drawing 5 o’clock shadow/beard stubble/beards on men (or on some ladies… now THAT is always fun) is not very difficult. It can be time consuming, especially the “3 day growth” kind of scruffy look, but the basics are constant and there a a few “don’ts” to avoid.

First off, you need to define what is the ‘beard area”. There are differences between men, but in general facial hair grows in the same places on all men:

beard-area

With that in mind, you can just imagine the slow growth of a man’s beard from the first hints of 5 o’clock shadow to stubble to a multiple day growth to the beginning of a real beard. The trick is to make sure you shape the hair to reinforce the structure of the face underneath. Nothing flattens out a drawing more than facial hair that destroys the forms beneath it:

flat-lines

measles

Let’s do this in stages, starting with 5 o’clock shadow. (more…)

Constructing a Crowd Scene Tutorial

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I’m still not exactly sure how it happened, but somewhere along the line I ended up establishing the reputation of being able to “do a crowd scene”. I am sure my art director at MAD Magazine, Sam Viviano, can sympathize. He is well known for his work with crowd scenes, and all that implies. Simply put, it means you end up getting a lot of jobs doing complicated crowd scenes because… well…. you CAN. In the world of freelancing there is never anything wrong with getting jobs. However when a lot of jobs end up being time consuming crowd scenes, you sometimes just wish for a nice, simple single figure illustration job to cross your path. MAD has utilized me on many crowd scene projects, in particular their “A MAD Look Behind the Scenes of…” features that they have occasionally done. I’ve done a lot of them for other clients as well.

It’s not that I hate crowd scenes. In fact, I like them. They are a LOT of work but when you are done with them they are always something you can sit back, look at and say “whew! That one was tough” but be pleased with the effort. In fact I’ve been known to do much more complicated scenes than the job might necessarily call for just because a really detailed crowd scene is always visually intense and affords the opportunity to make it dense with visual gags, cameos and other fun stuff that makes the viewer really look it over thoroughly. The dense, “chicken fat” technique of filling space with a lot of gags has always been one of my favorite parts of MAD, and is something I’ve always enjoyed incorporating into my work when I get the chance… MAD or otherwise. I’ve also always subscribed to the philosophy inherent in the famous quote by Wally Wood about doing very detailed and busy art: “If you can’t draw well, draw A LOT”.

I’ve been meaning to do a tutorial on how to do a crowd scene illustration, and in late November I was assigned a tough one for MAD that I thought afforded the opportunity to demonstrate how to approach and execute a crowd scene. In consideration of that thought, I saved conceptual sketches and stages of this particular job for MAD so I could use them to illustrate how I go about constructing a crowd scene. (more…)

Drawing Hands

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

This short tutorial is a just a small taste of a larger and much more in-depth book I wrote called The Mad Art of Caricature! The book is 175 full-color pages, lavishly illustrated and contains greatly expanded explanations of the concepts presented in this tutorials, as well and a great deal of additional material on caricaturing other facial features, posture, hands, expression and more, techniques on drawing from live models, doing caricature for freelance illustration and for MAD Magazine. This is a must have book for anyone interested in caricature, cartooning or humorous illustration. You can order it online here.

How to Draw Hands

Easily the most asked question I get is “how do you draw caricatures?”. However a close runner up is “how do you draw hands?”.  I’m not exactly the king of drawing hands, but I have made a special study of them as they are very important when doing comic book type work… hands and their gestures are a big part of “acting” and therefore of storytelling.

Next to faces, hands are probably the most expressive and intricate part of the human form. In fact, humans probably spend more time looking at their hands than they do looking at anything else over their entire lives. Being that we are all so familiar with the way hands look, a poorly drawn hand sticks out like a sore thumb (sorry about the pun). Oddly enough, hands are something that most artists struggle to draw well. So, with that in mind I thought I’d do a tutorial on my approach to drawing hands.

I’m a cartoonist at heart, so the hands I draw are not realistic hands by most definitions. However my style of cartooning lends itself more to realistic representation than, say, a certain four fingered gloved mouse or other much more cartoony characters do. Therefore a lot of the information in this tutorial will apply to drawing hands realistically as well as in more cartoon form. I’ll attempt to explain the basic anatomy of a hand, things to keep in mind at all times when drawing them and common mistakes and issues that plague many artists when drawing hands.

Breaking Down Hand Structure

As with drawing anything, it all starts with an understanding of the basic form and structure of your subject matter. Hands are certainly no different. In fact, many of the most common problems with drawing hands stems from incorrect notions of the form of the hand. I’m not a big stickler for memorizing the names of muscles and bones because it seems to zone people out when you start tossing around “Carpal this” and “Metatarsal that”… however labels are something that some people need to be able to apply, so some general surface anatomy with layman’s terms seems to be the best approach. Here is a breakdown of a hand with the important surface elements labeled:

Basic Hand Structure

Not really much to it, is there? Everybody knows what knuckles and fingernails are. Where an artist gets tripped up is not understanding how they relate to one another, and how they move in relationship to one another when the hand starts doing it’s thing. Things like how the knuckles line up, where the pad creases fall, how the fingers bend and interact… these are all important elements to drawing convincing hand gestures. (more…)

Sunday Mailbag

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Q: You make cross-hatching look so easy. Mine always ends up looking like a messy patchwork quilt. What’s the secret to good cross hatching?

A: Well, thanks for the compliment but I don’t consider myself much of an expert on crosshatching. With me it’s an exercise in controlled chaos. If you want to see a caricaturist who uses crosshatching to great effect, check out the work of Jan Op De Beeck or Vin Altamore.

Here’s a basic crosshatched pattern one layer at a time:

Some History- Crosshatching is a technique for adding values to a drawing by layering intersecting lines together to create the illusion of gradating tones. It was used a lot in the days of engraving and etching, when some form of hatching was almost the only way to achieve any kind of value in the artwork. It was used a lot in the good old days of photostat cameras, especially with inked artwork and cartooning/comics. Photostating was how artwork or photos got transferred to film/plates for printing in the days before everyone had a scanner on their desktop. It was a large machine with a mounted camera over a flat mounting surface and even, bright lighting. The camera took a picture of the artwork and outputted it on either bright white photostat paper as a positive or negative image. The result was ‘camera ready art’ that could be pasted up onto a layout with type and other elements and then reshot for printing. Photostat cameras could use various “screens” that would create dot patterns of various densities to make photos or value based images “camera ready”, but using crosshatching eliminated the need for screens and kept linework unaltered by the camera. Well done it is a treat for the eyes, but overused it’s a mess.

Here are what I consider some very important points about crosshatching:

  • Do Not Overuse It- It’s tempting to try and capture every change in value from an object but that usually results in an incomprehensible mess. I will sometime indicate lesser values but in general only hatch in values that are maybe 40% gray or darker. Basically I will only do the really important values and leave the rest out.
  • Don’t Use a Ruler- There are certain styles that can get away with using a straight edge to do the lines for crosshatching, but in general it makes for a mechanical look with the life sucked out of the drawing. The natural imperfection of hand drawing adds charm and warmth. Use that. I often allow the lines to curve and arc, especially in the second or third layer
  • Stick to Three Main Layers- More than that and it gets muddy fast. I add all sorts of smaller areas with fourth or more layers, but I usually only use three big ones.
  • Don’t Use Right Angled Lines- I.E. lines that are at 90 degree angles to each other. Very boring and again sucks the life out of the drawing. Using lines that are too close to parallel will create a weird moire sort of pattern, which can be cool if you want that effect but that’s also not the best approach.
  • Vary the Length of Your Lines- Again, your drawing will look mechanical if all your lines end at the same length.

It’s difficult to describe in words how to crosshatch. Here is a quick step by step of a partial drawing:


Here’s our subject: Hal Holbrook


Basic Sketch


The beginning layer of hatching, mostly one direction. Notice in different
areas I have used different line angles. It’s not the same across the whole drawing.


Added the second layer. Usually smaller in area, meant as the
next step in darker value.


Third layer. Further establishes the darker values. The “shapes”
created are not even or mechanical in any way. Notice I also
use the direction of lines to indicate planes, like the upper right side
of his nose…

Thanks to Jason Crocker for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here.

How to Draw Caricatures: Eyes

Monday, June 30th, 2008

This series of “How to Draw Caricatures” tutorials are a just a small taste of a larger and much more in-depth book I wrote called The Mad Art of Caricature! The book is 175 full-color pages, lavishly illustrated and contains greatly expanded explanations of the concepts presented in these tutorials, as well and a great deal of additional material on caricaturing other facial features, posture, hands, expression and more, techniques on drawing from live models, doing caricature for freeplace illustration and for MAD Magazine. This is a must have book for anyone interested in caricature, cartooning or humorous illustration. You can order it online here.

Part Four: Drawing Eyes

I’ve written in past tutorials on drawing caricatures that you can’t really teach someone to draw caricatures… that is more about developing their “sight” and observation skills and also developing an ability to find that which make an individual face unique and exaggerating it. Since every face is different this is an exercise in personal observation and decision. Therefore after I have gone over the information in my pervious tutorials, I switch gears an concentrate on teaching rookie live caricaturists how to draw the individual features, both how to see them, exaggerate them and how to draw them in line to best effect.

Here is where style becomes an issue. What I have written about previously can apply to almost any style of caricature, from the richly painted to the most minimalist of line. In these next series of tutorials some aspects of what I talk about will relate specifically with a style of caricature like my own… based on cartoon line either inked or in some other medium. Therefore those with different sensibilities and styles can take from it what they will and apply what makes sense to them, and ignore the rest. I will try to center my discussion on that which applies to a broader range of styles than just my own.

My method for teaching the individual features begins with a lesson on real anatomy. I’m not a big believer in memorizing every anatomical name but I do believe you must have a good working knowledge of how a feature is put together in order to have a good command over the drawing of said feature. Following the anatomy lesson, I talk about different techniques to help “see” the shape of the feature and understand how to draw it, including realistic proportion. Finally I talk about interpreting the feature in terms of exaggeration and incorporating it into the whole.

Points of Reference

Seeing and drawing anything is all about shapes and the correct drawing of them or in the case of caricature the correct drawing of the exaggeration of them. Either way you still have to “see” the object you are drawing and understand it’s form first. We have all seen depictions of artists on TV raising their arm outstretched towards their models with the thumb out from the fist and squinting their eyes before drawing. That is supposed to represent an old artist’s trick of using their thumb, or hand, or pencil or some other object to measure their subject’s features relative to one another, or to see angles or other relationships. The thumb is supposed to be a “point of reference”… a constant that is used to make accurate observations of the subject. Establishing points of reference in the face is key to helping to “see” shapes and make observations. With each feature and the face overall I will suggest several things I use as constant points of reference, which I can then use as a starting point from which other observations are based. Any kind of drawing can benefit from this simple concept.

Our first feature is the eyes. I’ve always felt that the eyes of a caricature are the center of everything, literally the center of the face but figuratively the center of expression, personality and “life” as it were. Therefore I’ve always place special emphasis on the eyes and begin and end with them, after the head shape, as the focus of almost any caricature. (more…)

How to Draw Caricatures: Head Shapes

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008


This series of “How to Draw Caricatures” tutorials are a just a small taste of a larger and much more in-depth book I wrote called The Mad Art of Caricature! The book is 175 full-color pages, lavishly illustrated and contains greatly expanded explanations of the concepts presented in these tutorials, as well and a great deal of additional material on caricaturing other facial features, posture, hands, expression and more, techniques on drawing from live models, doing caricature for freeplace illustration and for MAD Magazine. This is a must have book for anyone interested in caricature, cartooning or humorous illustration. You can order it online here.

Part Three: The Importance of Head Shapes

When I first started drawing live caricatures I felt that the eyes were the most important part of the face, and I put a lot of emphasis and focus on them. I still think the eyes are a crucial element, but over the years I’ve come to believe that the head shape is the most important part of a caricature.

The head shape is the fulcrum upon which a caricature hinges. The heavy lifting of all exaggeration is accomplished via the shape of the head, and it is more easily accomplished that way. Considering that the head shape is a single shape, it is easier to recognize how that shape differs from “normal” and it is easier still to draw a corresponding simple shape that exaggerates those properties as opposed to the more complex multiple relationships of the features. By stretching and exaggerating the head shape, you create the framework within which your other features and their relationships are drawn to achieve your caricature.

I have spoken of the “5 Shapes” and the importance of their relationships already, but digging a little deeper it’s accurate to say that the head shape is “Shape 1″ and the other four shapes are planets to it’s sun, working within it’s all encompassing field of gravity. If a caricaturist can “see” and exaggerate the head shape, all the other features fall into place and follow along. In the last lesson I talked about the “T” shape being a focal point of the basic caricature, but it’s really the “T Shape” and the head shape together as a whole that acts are the basic foundation of a caricature. With those shapes and their relationships established, the rest of the caricature quickly follows suit.

Seeing the Head Shape

I talk endlessly about seeing shapes within the features and the face, and the importance of drawing those shapes accurately to capture likeness and to create a convincing drawing. Again, it’s difficult to teach anyone to “see”… that ability is developed over time via practice and hard work. Still, there are a few techniques and tricks I have learned that can help artists to better see what is in front of them, and better interpret it in their drawing. Many work for any feature or “shape” within the face, but some are specific for individual features. Head shapes have several of these tricks for both initial observations and exaggeration.

Classic Proportion

As with Redman’s ‘”Everyman” concept, it’s important to have an understanding of classic human proportion an anatomy to have a springboard from which observations can be made. This is important both for helping to see what makes a given face unique by comparing it to those “normal” proportions, and for helping to exaggerate those unique aspects by giving the artist a “starting point” from which to depart as much as possible.

head1.jpg

The classic adult head is an oval, slightly flattened along the top. The head is exactly divided in half at the eyes, meaning there is equal distance from the horizontal line of the eyes to both the top and bottom of the head. The head is five eye widths wide, and the widest point is typically at the temples, but can be anywhere from the cheekbones to just above the ears. The distance, or more accurately the “mass” of the head above and below the eyes, and how those two areas relate, is a crucial part of the head shape as it relates to caricature. I will refer to it often. (more…)

How to Draw Caricatures: Relationship of Features

Thursday, February 21st, 2008


This series of “How to Draw Caricatures” tutorials are a just a small taste of a larger and much more in-depth book I wrote called The Mad Art of Caricature! The book is 175 full-color pages, lavishly illustrated and contains greatly expanded explanations of the concepts presented in these tutorials, as well and a great deal of additional material on caricaturing other facial features, posture, hands, expression and more, techniques on drawing from live models, doing caricature for freeplace illustration and for MAD Magazine. This is a must have book for anyone interested in caricature, cartooning or humorous illustration. You can order it online here.

Part Two: Relating the Features

Previously I mentioned how the relationships between features are the driving force behind caricature:

“Caricature is not about choosing one feature and making it bigger, it’s about all the features together and how they relate to one another.”

Actually caricature is about changing the relationships between features, meaning their distance, size and angle relative to one another, from what they truly are and what is considered “normal”. Deciding what relationships to change and how much to change them is one of the caricaturist’s most important jobs, and one of the most difficult to “learn”. The actual difference between the relationship of features of most humans does not add up to much in terms of physical measurements… a “big” nose may be only a fraction of an inch larger than a “normal” nose. Yet we can see different feature relationships on almost everybody, some which seem very pronounced. That is because we spend basically our entire lives looking into people’s faces… we go it when we interact, work, play, go shopping or to church… we are social beings and our faces are both our identities and our method of communication. Our ability to observe minute differences becomes very fine tuned. Mostly it’s unconscious, but we see that fraction of an inch larger nose as “big”, or we see this person’s eyes as large or this person’s mouth as small based not on physical measurements but on our overall perception of the features and how they relate to one another. Consciously making those observations, especially for those faces in which the unique aspects are not obvious, is the most difficult part of drawing caricatures. There are some techniques and methods you can use to help make those observations. (more…)

 

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