Sunday Mailbag- Pet Caricatures?

November 9th, 2014 | Posted in Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: Have you ever been asked to do a pet caricature? What would be the challenges involved?

A: No, I’ve never been asked to do one. I did do an illustration of Jeff Dunham‘s dog for him once:


but it’s not much of a caricature. Except for making the eyes and ears a bit bigger and the snout a bit smaller, this is practically a portrait.

I believe you can caricature animals, but not in the same way you caricature humans. With humans, you identify what makes them unique from other humans both visually and in their personality and exaggerate that. Different species of animals have identifiably traits that you can exaggerate, but that’s sort of like exaggerating racial characteristics in humans… something you do not want to do. You mainly exaggerate the same things within each species of animal. That’s generalizing not specifying. Pitbulls, for example, have very flat tops of heads, wide faces with smaller eyes set wide apart. They’ve got very wide, barrel-like torsos with short legs and small rear ends. Those characteristics would apply to most all pitbulls, and you already have the basis for a “caricature” of any of that breed.

Individual animals have their own unique looks, though. Ask any pet owner and they’ll insist their pets have ‘personalities’ that make them different from others of the same breed. Actually most behaviors in pets are part of their breed as well, but there is plenty of individuality among domesticated animals. Mostly it’s due to a “look” they get that their owner identifies with.

All that aside, drawing a a pet isn’t much different than drawing anything else. They have features, and if you draw those features correctly and well it will look like that pet. Apply a little exaggeration… perhaps 80% based on the look of the breed and 20% based on your own observations (helped by the description of the pet’s “personality” by the owner) and you’ll have a pseudo “caricature” of the pet. Is it a “real” caricature? That depends on your definition, but an exaggerated likeness is certainly possible.

hanks to D.D. Degg 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. James Gardiner says:

    Very interesting… especially ‘Is it a ‚Äö√Ñ√∫real‚Äö√Ñ√π caricature? That depends on your definition, but an exaggerated likeness is certainly possible.’….

  2. neal says:

    I actually got hired by a dog club (similar to Westchester kennel club) do do caricatures of owners with their pets at their event. Being a dog lover, I had a blast!

  3. Isaiah Shipp says:

    I’ve gotten asked to draw dogs at live events. There’s always a few people who ask if there dog can sit in the chair…weirdos.


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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