Q: When drawing live caricatures (theme park) how do you decide whether to have a couple or just a single person be drawn in the 3/4 view or frontal? If it’s a couple do you draw the woman first, or does is not matter? Also, do you have or can you put up a video of you doing a live theme park caricature to show us how your technique is done?
Since it’s officially the theme park caricature season I thought these might be some good mailbag questions today.
When drawing live caricatures (theme park) how do you decide whether to have a couple or just a single person be drawn in the 3/4 view or frontal?
When working live I almost never draw a subject at a true frontal or a true 3/4 angle. The 100% frontal angle is boring and makes the nose very difficult to draw convincingly because it is protruding at the viewer and it lacks hard edges to define its form. A true 3/4 angle only works for a single person, or for one out of a couple. Both subjects in a two person drawing at the same 3/4 angle looks like a police line up. I cheat the face angle to a slight 3/4 one way or the other in most cases. The only time I draw a true frontal is with people who have very round faces (no cheekbones to define the face contours) and small features. That type of face demands a Dick Tracy “Littleface” treatment that is emphasized by the frontal angle. I will do a true 3/4 angle on some faces if they have the nose for it. Very interesting noses work great for 3/4 views, because the nose is very much the focus of a 3/4 drawing, given that the contours of the face are no longer as relevant.
If it’s a couple do you draw the woman first, or does is not matter?
It does not matter in terms of sex. I always draw left to right, so the subject on the left is always first. I just draw them as they are naturally seated, because in my opinion couples sit down in whatever order they are used to sitting, and it’s better to draw them in that order. However, it’s easier to draw the shorter of the two first because I always put that person in the foreground with the taller behind them. That would usually means drawing the woman first, but not always. Personally I think it’s more important to draw the natural way they have seated themselves as opposed to always drawing the woman (or shortest person as the case may be) on the left. It drives me crazy when a live caricaturist draws the person sitting on the right in front of them on the left of their paper… it certainly confuses the people watching until the drawing progresses far enough they realize the switch. Likewise it drives me crazy when an artist tells their models to switch places after they have seated themselves so he/she can have whoever they prefer on the left. The late, great Gary Fasen used to do that all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it, I guess, but it is just a pet peeve of mine.
Also, do you have or can you put up a video of you doing a live theme park caricature to show us how your technique is done?
Probably not, as that would necessitate setting up a camera at the theme park, getting the customers to agree to let me do it, and a lot of other hassles. Also, it would be tough to get it to show up properly on a video. I’d like to do it and many people have asked about it, so I will try to figure it out one of these days. Come to think of it, I have an older video showing me doing a number of celebrity sample caricatures we used to use as a sales tool at some of my indoor locations. That was done using some time-lapse fades so it’s not really a start to finish video, but maybe I can find it and transfer it to YouTube if people would be interested in seeing it.
Thanks to Anthony Pagano 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!
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