Sketch o’the Week

May 18th, 2011 | Posted in Sketch O'The Week

I did this sketch of rock guitarist Slash to demonstrate my side of a little disagreement I was having with a fellow caricaturist. We were discussing what makes a successful caricature. While we both agreed that being able to instantly recognize who the subject was constituted the most important aspect of a successful caricature, he insisted this hinged on “likeness” of the features, and I said that was not necessarily true. This caricature of Slash has no features, but it is unmistakeable. A viewer recognizes a person or personality on more levels that just their face. Body posture, signature clothing or “look”, accessories, setting…these all play a part in the “recognizability” of a subject. Some caricaturists use this as a crutch because they have trouble capturing recognizability through the features alone, but a good caricaturist will use a combination of elements, both the features/expression and extras, to create a strong caricature.


  1. Bearman says:

    Slash’s hat defines him more than any other feature I think…without it, I might have though it was one of the French Fry guys from McDonalds had sprouted a full rocker body..haha

    Love it.

  2. George Cook says:

    I knew it was Slash before I even saw the whole picutre. As the screen was loading all I saw was the hat and the top of the guitar and knew it had to be him.

  3. Lash LeRoux says:

    I would certainly agree whole-heartedly with your side of the argument, Tom. When you shared this question, I immediately thought of Groucho Marx. How many times in his career was he caricatured by just drawing a big nose, glasses, heavy eyebrows and a moustache? In fact, those few characteristics were SO quintessentially Groucho that “Groucho Glasses” with the attached nose, eyebrows and moustache are still a fun novelty gift. A few years ago, Hulk Hogan updated his logo in a similar way, printing t-shirts that featured nothing more than what amounted to a silhouette of a bandanna, sunglasses and his trademark Fu Manchu mustache. Still, the image is unmistakably recognizable as the “Hulkster”.

  4. N. Bates says:

    Tom’s point can be proven in just nine lines:

  5. Sagan Lacy says:

    It’s funny, as I was scrolling down and saw the image, the question of whether it was indeed a caricature did cross my mind! But of course I agree that it is. I also must say that it is far, far more difficult, at least for me, to caricature a body than it is to caricature a face. But I think we are better at recognizing specific faces than specific bodies, on the whole.

  6. Koji says:


    There’s a famous caricaturist here in Brazil known as “Fabio Shin” ( who draws everyone Manga-style and (for me) they often don’t look like the subject or they all have the same face (or both, it seems sometimes), which doesn’t really happen in all mangas. For me there’s no point in caricaturing people by putting always the same face, even if it’s manga, but that’s just a personal POV….and I dunno if that’s the artist’s goal.

    Anyway, since I also used to draw manga, I also have problems when drawing/capturing facial recognizability (which your tutorials have been helping A LOT with, btw) since in japanese cartoons, mainly the hair (shape and, specially, absurd colors) and those other items are what actually distinguishes one character from another. I often try to focus on the other items, but the reason I’m trying to improve my face drawings is, more often than I would wish for, the accesories and poses altogether don’t help as much as drawing a recognizable face alone…

    …specially when you gotta lotta japanese friends that pretty much look alike and have few features that tell the apart to focus on…

    Start caricaturing after a whole life drawing manga can prove itself quite difficult, and I concluded a good drawn face is quite often better than a lot of items drawn together. Anyway, this might be just a very specific case…

    • Tom says:

      I’m not a big fan of Manga… not because I don’t respect the artwork when it’s well done (some Manga work is incredible) but because the style is so overpowering it is easy to emulate without having a good foundation is solid drawing. I can’t tell you how many young artists show me their work and it’s nothing but manga-styled faces and figures with terrible drawing skills underneath. Because they can get the “look” easily enough, they don’t work on the fundamentals.

      • Koji says:

        That’s one of the main reasons I started searching for new techniques, trying to mix them with manga-ish features. Trying to develop my own personal style.

        I’m wasn’t the best of manga artists out-there. Drawing for me is more of a hobby (and I don’t draw for a living), but I can say with some level of certainty that my work is better than a lot of so-called professional work out there, because of what you said…nowadays the market is packed with manga artists who barely studied the basis or even try to develop their skills.

        Btw, along with your tutorials, I try to base my development on Akihiko Yoshida’s art. It’s manga-ish, but it’s pretty good, and clean, and different from manga out there…worth a look on Google.

        Anyway, thanks for the tutorials. Maybe I’ll send you some of my work someday for some critics.

      • Calvin says:

        Almost every kid at my school that I know draws in manga… makes me want to throw up. They’re all drawing that same pointy chin, funny hair, small nose, spiked hair, shiny eyes…….just the fact one can describe a style that thoroughly annoys me.

        • Koji says:

          Not all manga have the style you just described but, yes, it’s the trend and main commonly known characteristics. Most kids nowadays drawing manga doesn’t bother you any less than it bothers me, that’s basically what I had in mind when writing my comment. But in my personal POV, I believe everything can (and even should) be used as reference for people to improve their own skills. It’s valid.

          And, well, I dunno how old are the kids you’re talking about, but I doubt that any of’em actually draws manga and maybe that’s the reason of your nausea (and sometimes, even mine). It’s like Tom said, it’s pretty easy to emulate, but some actual professional manga work is pretty impressive, and the style could be treated with less prejudice if it wasn’t such a viral (and sometimes overly-geeky) trend.
          You can’t deny that the manga’s being the start for a lot of people in the drawing world, and if people can develop themselves out of the manga nutshell, some great work may be born.


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

Workshops Ad

Dracula ad

Doctor Who Ad

Superman Ad

%d bloggers like this: