Q: When drawing live caricatures I am finding it very difficult to get faster (under 8 minutes) and keep things pretty recognizable and well observed. I have your book and have been sequencing my drawings, looking for that t-shape with the eyes and nose, and squinting my eyes to see the head shape, but I am still pretty slow. When working live should I just focus on accuracy and speed will come in time? Or should I focus more on speed and accuracy will come in time? It is a difficult balance to achieve, any advice you could give me would be helpful.
A: Finding that balance between speed and quality is a constant goal for the audience caricaturist. Doing a super sloppy job in the interest of speed is a bad approach, as is doing a detailed masterpiece that takes half and hour to draw out. Developing a good speed actually helps your drawing quality by making your lines more spontaneous and energetic, and causing you to draw more instinctively as opposed to overthinking every line.
If you feel your drawings are slow but looking good, then concentrate on speeding up. Just understand that most of the time it takes to do a caricature is NOT a function of how fast you draw your lines but of how much time you waste NOT drawing them. In other words, it’s the time IN BETWEEN each line that you want to reduce. You need to develop a rhythm with your drawings, where you move to the next line quickly and efficiently. You should not try and rush your lines but just draw them with confidence and flair, and the drawings will naturally start coming faster. That’s why sequencing (a concept I go over in my book and that most audience caricaturists use to some degree) is so important… you don’t waste time wondering where to go next, you just go there. Doing that will pick up your speed but keep your drawing quality high.
Thanks to Jonathan McGinnis 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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918 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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