Sunday Mailbag

July 3rd, 2011 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: As a young artist, I try to practice drawing cartoons and caricatures. From your point of view, what are some good famous people to draw to help me improve in all areas of drawing caricatures? Example– (insert famous person here) is good to draw to practice on hair and wrinkles.

A: There is no good answer for that because just about any face, celebrity or otherwise, will provide good practice for some feature or other.

In fact, the process of looking for a face that you would identify as being good to practice drawing hair, wrinkles or any other aspect of the face is as important as actually doing the practice drawing.

So much about caricature (and drawing) is SEEING. Developing your ability to identify what it is about a face that makes it unique is learning how to “see”. Being able to look at a face and say “look at the wrinkles on this guy! That would be a great face to draw with all those wrinkles” is half the battle of drawing caricatures. Being able to draw really good wrinkles is important, but you can’t caricature them if you don’t see them as an important element of the face in front of you.

A great exercise is to identify some aspect of drawing you are struggling with, like hair or noses or whatever, and then consciously look at these features on people trying to identify ones that are unique and “caricature-able”. You don’t necessarily have to even draw them . . . just look. Later, you can try to draw them from memory or save the picture from the magazine or website you saw it at and draw it in your sketchbook, but to begin with just look for them. You will begin to see and notice things you missed before.

Oh… and Lance Henriksen is great for practicing drawing wrinkles.

Thanks to Ryan Dervay 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!


  1. Siavash says:

    I am just like you dear Ryan Dervay.I agree with Tom!
    In addition I myself improve my skills by Tom`s tutorials and LOOKING!!
    You can visit my blog to


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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