Sketch O’The Week

February 6th, 2008 | Posted in Sketch O'The Week

I thought I’d try something different this week and do a sketch while scanning in several stages to show the progression. This week’s subject is guitar legend Eddie Van Halen, circa 2007.


I start out very loose and geometric, aiming to establish the head shape and placement of the features. 80% of the caricature is figured out at this point, including the exaggerations. Eddie’s forehead is very prominent these days, and his square jaw and chin. His famous goofy grin and squinty eyes are still a big part of his look. I have zero concern about superficial likeness at this stage.


Now I begin fleshing out the sketch a bit, slowly indicating more specific features and expression. I rough in things like the mouth and other features very loosely, making adjustments and changes as I experiment. The likeness begins to take form at this stage.


I “knock down” the rough sketch lines with a kneadable eraser and start to draw with darker and more confident lines. This is still just a sketch so I don’t bother with perfectly clean lines but let things remain rather loose. I start indicating some values as well. I am still adjusting the drawing as needed… for example I have changed the neckline angle and kept the through line consistent along the back of his head.


The finished sketch. Eddie’s years of hard rocking have left their mark…


  1. jimbodraw says:

    Hey Tom:

    Great likeness – I love it – nailed his jawline perfectly.


  2. Philbert says:

    This was a great step-by-step. I’ve said before I love your roughs almost as much as the finished.
    One thing that has changed for me (and made me a better caricaturist) is doing my roughs in Photoshop with the Wacom. I can put my loosest rough on the bottom layer and work up, keeping elements I like or discarding things that aren’t working. It has opened me up to being much more confident with my drawing. It looks different than the ‘analog’ method, but the drawing is better.
    That’s my thought anyway. Again, thanks for the post Tom, you’re a master!

  3. Tom says:

    Thanks guys. Philbert- sometime in the near future I plan to do a video of a digital “sketch o’the week” where I capture the whole process and speed it up. That will be fun.

  4. pmcmicheal says:

    Tom, This is awesome. I find this extremely enlightening to see the stages of progress! Especially with detailed explanations. I do the same thing on MY blog but there doesn’t seem to be much interest! I find it fascinating.
    Great sketch of Edward!!! How about a before and after? 1984 – 2008?
    my blog:

  5. paulcapurso says:

    Tom, I totally agree with Philbert as I love seeing your sketches, I think they show so much. Love the Eddie, really, he was my guitar hero growing up. I’d love to see you do a full body color version of this, plus I KNOW you can nail a Diamond Davind Lee Roth!!!!

    Take Care


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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