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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.


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…)

New PhotoShop Line Art Trick

Friday, June 6th, 2008

For years I’ve been using an easy trick to create a layer in PhotoShop containing my scanned, inked line art that remains intact as I color “beneath it” sort of like an animation cell. It’s a simple thing to do:

  1. Scan line art as grayscale image
  2. Duplicate background layer containing inked art, rename “Inks”
  3. Set layer mode to “Multiply”
  4. On background layer, press “Command” + “A” to select and then “Delete” to delete line art on that layer
  5. Convert to RGB or CMYK

Finished. Because “Multiply” mode means that whatever is on that layer in “multiplied” with what is below it, all the black lines stay intact and all the subtle gray lines become transparent and overlay the color I place beneath it, while all the white becomes transparent. Neat, easy trick.

Except nothing is ever easy, is it?

There are two difficulties with that technique. First, the white areas on the multiply mode are not gone, they are merely inert when in Multiply mode. This means that once you take that final step and “flatten” the image for sending to the client, all the white areas combine with the lower color layers. Since it’s in Multiply mode when flattened that just means any color below it takes over and the white in effect is gone. That works great IF you have only one layer of lines in Multiply mode. But what if you need to have different layers of objects in a given illustration for some reason? Then it does not work, because if you merge a multiply layer with another layer, any areas on the other layer that have no color in them become opaque white, and no transparency is transferred. In other words, if you want to have a single figure, inked and colored, on it’s own layer on top of a background illustration you cannot do that with the “multiply trick, because once you merge the multiplied inked figure layer with it’s separate colored layer, the “white” comes back all around the figure:

© 2008 Tom Richmond
The linework for the boat and the color beneath the boat are their own layers
in this image, with lines for background beneath and color for background beneath
that. It looks like this if flattened to all together at once.

© 2008 Tom Richmond
This is what happens if I just merge the boat line layer with it’s colored
underlayer. The white on the inked layer comes back.

You can select the white areas with the magic wand tool and delete them to create the transparency, but that is problematic as the wand tool doesn’t do a very good job of making good edges and you end up with a kind of “halo” effect that necessitates a lot of clean up around your image. I’m working on a job right now that requires a multiple layered final file, and this is a real headache.

There is a larger problem with this technique, though, and it applies to the process of four color printing. I just learned about this from MAD after I noticed that the blacks in my “30 Rock” parody seemed dull and washed out compared to other MAD jobs.

“Multiply” mode doesn’t just drop the black linework “on top” of the color… it literally multiplies it with the color below. That means that your black areas aren’t just 100% black, but they are black plus the cyan, magenta and yellow inks of the color beneath it. All blacks in a CMYK printed image are more than just 100% black ink… they have the other inks in there as well (in fact, PhotoShop has a setting for “rich black” in CMYK mode that is a specific combination of the four inks in percentages), but the density of the inks easily becomes very heavy when using the Multiply trick.

The problem with this in printing terms is that ink density (the percentage of each of the four colors) has it’s limits for the printer, yet PhotoShop literally dictates the ink density based on absolute percentages. You have 4 different inks in CMYK printing: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Each can be up to 100% coverage. Therefore the max ink density is 400%, meaning 100% of all four colors. Printing a 400% ink density is impossible… it will never dry. PhotoShop’s default color setting profile calls for a max of 300% ink density, but even that is a little strong and those settings do not apply in PhotoShop to an image you are working on, but only to those that have been converted to that color profile. So, you may be working in a profile like CMYK SWOP v2 (default North American printing setting) but you can easily exceed that 300% ink density when working, especially using the multiply line trick. Printer’s want lower ink densities. MAD‘s printer, by example, wants a max ink density of 280%. Working in RGB and then converting to CYMK will limit you to a 300% ink density (or whatever the profile calls for), but I don’t trust conversion like that to keep the colors right.

So, in an effort to figure out a better way, I discussed it with several knowledgeable PhotoShop gurus and found a different line art trick that works around these issues. It’s called the “Channel” line art trick, and it works just as well and almost as easily, but results in a layer of line art where the white is literally not there and yet the black and gray lines are merely transparent as opposed to being in multiply mode, which results in a lesser ink density.

Here’s the process:

  1. Scan line art as grayscale image
  2. Create a new blank layer, rename it “Inks”
  3. Go to the “Channels” palette, there is only one channel called “Gray”
  4. At the bottom of the channels palette, click the “dashed circle” icon entitled “Load Channel as Selection”
  5. In “Select” drop down menu, select “Inverse”
  6. Go to your “Inks” layer
  7. Press “D” on your keyboard to reset swathes so full black in active color
  8. Press “Option” + “”Delete” to fill selection with black
  9. On background layer, press “Command” + “A” to select and then “Delete” to delete line art on that layer
  10. Convert to RGB or CMYK

Using this technique, your line art layer will contain all your lines but the white will be gone, rather than just inert due to the multiply mode. So instead of this:

© 2008 Tom Richmond

You get this:

© 2008 Tom Richmond

The great thing is that the channels trick also preserves the subtle gray lines and any washes or values you had in the original inks, as the selection of the channel is smart enough to not just select the absolutes but also the transparencies of the image. You can use this trick to create as many layers of line and colored objects as you want and merge them at will to create layered images. best of all, the transparent black reacts differently to merging than the “multiplied” black, resulting in lower ink densities.

The one caveat here is that you should scan your lines in at a higher resolution for this technique to make sure you do not lose any linework. I do most of my inks at 200% of print size, so that is plenty large if I scan at 300 dpi. If I was inking at 150% or closer to print size, I’d bump up the resolution of my scan to twice print resolution, or say 600 dpi as opposed to 300 dpi.

I am sure this technique has been used by many people, is all over the internet and I am hardly the originator of it, but it was cool nonetheless to “figure it out”.

Isn’t shop talk fun?

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.


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…)

How to Draw Caricatures: The 5 Shapes

Thursday, February 14th, 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 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.

Part One: Basic Theory and the Five Shapes

This is the first of a series of articles I will post here on The MAD Blog about my theories, methods and processes concerning how to draw caricatures.A lot of this 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 and concepts directly from the less time-constrained world of caricature illustration. Therefore this is not instruction for just the live caricaturist but for any artist interested in caricature for any purpose.

These 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 can’t tell who it is supposed to be, then it is not successful. All good caricatures incorporate a good likeness of their subjects.
  • Exaggeration- Without some form of exaggeration, or a departure from the exact representation of the subject’s 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.
  • Statement- I believe a caricature must 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, it’s an important part. (more…)


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