Learning to Draw Caricatures – 5 Important Tips for New Caricature Artists

UPDATED: Jan 08, 2014

 “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Draw Caricatures”  is now available as an eBook on Amazon’s Kindle Store. 

Sidebar Image - Cover - Evolution of a Caricaturist - A Book on How to Draw Caricatures - by Shafali Anand

Click the Cover Thumbnail to view the book.

Kindle eBooks can be read on all devices; all you need is a Kindle Reader App which is available as a free download from Amazon. If you have a non-Kindle reading device (for instance, an iPad/iPhone or any other tablet/Smartphone,) you can visit the following page to download the Free Kindle Reader app for your device.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000493771

—————————————-

If you are a budding caricaturist, here are a few tips to help you reduce the gradient of your learning curve.

  1. Find at least half-a-dozen pictures of the subject (the person you want to caricature.)
  2. Study the features of the subject carefully and try to identify the deviations from the normal.
  3. Remember that the deviations could be in size, shape (form), or both, so look for such deviations.
  4. Don’t ever kill the look in those eyes!
  5. Play a Secret Game – When you look at people, see their Caricatures!

So what do these tips mean? Let’s find out.

1. Find at least half-a-dozen pictures of the subject (the person you want to caricature.)

This is important. A caricaturist can’t work with just one picture, while a portrait artist often can. The reason why portraiture is easier is because it involves copying the subject’s features – if an artist can copy the features exactly, likeness is automatically assured. However, a caricature artist needs go further and achieve the twin objectives of:

  • exaggeration
  • likeness

Thus, a caricaturist needs to begin by first studying the subject’s features from different angles, and in different light conditions. If the subject of your caricature is a performer, there’s a good chance that his or her face is made to look different through makeup and at times even through the use of certain props. All this would make it difficult for you to figure out the exact shape and size of the facial features, if you studied only one picture…so find as many as you can, and lose yourself into those lines and creases!

2. Study the features of the subject carefully and try to identify the deviations from the normal.

While a portrait artist lives on his ability to reproduce the facial features faithfully, a caricaturist thrives on his capability to exaggerate the deviations from the normal. If we all were given a standard set of features by our maker, caricaturists wouldn’t exist. We exist because we have a keen perception, using which we can determine those facial features that:

  • make a face unique
  • deviate considerably from the ideal face.

3. Remember that the deviations could be in size, shape (form), or both, so look for such deviations.

Select the top two or three features that deviate most from their normal size/appearance. Close your eyes and try to visualize the following faces – then note down 2-3 features which you’d like to exaggerate in their faces:

Done?

Now view their caricatures here. What’s been exaggerated? Do you think that the exaggerated features match the list of the features that you’ve created?
Note how the noses of Morgan Freeman and Tom Hanks, and the Hair of Abe Lincoln and Michelle Obama have been exaggerated not only in size buy also in shape!

4. Don’t ever kill the look in those eyes!

I’ve seen a lot of caricaturists create excellent caricatures with beautifully crafted and realistically painted features – but with eyes that see nothing, say nothing, and do nothing! Eyes are the windows into a person’s soul…don’t shut that window. Never exaggerate the eyes to the point when they begin to look unreal. Don’t exaggerate the eyes unless you really have to – unless you are really confident of your ability to retain the expression while you manipulate them.

5. Play a Secret Game – When you look at people, see their Caricatures!

I don’t want to explain it because people might stop wanting to meet me – but if you want to be good at the art of drawing caricatures, you really need to transform your eyes into that magic-prism!

And of course, if you are interested in learning how to draw caricatures, I’d recommend “How to Draw Caricatures – Evolution of a Caricaturist“. (Updated: January 08, 2014.)

  1. The book is expected  on the App Store – shortly 🙂 The book shall follow an interactive format. You can view the basic content outline at the above link.
  2. It simplifies caricature-drawing and presents it in the form of a process, which if followed, could help you learn and master caricature-drawing in a very short time.
  3. You can signup for an email notification, which will be sent whenever it becomes available on the App Store.

So, if you’ve got your sketchbook and your pencils ready, what are you waiting for?

DRAW to SMILE!

Another Important Update (October 06, 2014)

If you are a hobbyist and would like to create funny caricatures, or if you want to try out the principles outlined in my book Evolution of a Caricaturist, you can check out the Free Caricature App for iPhone and iPad –  Toonsie Roll, which has been developed under my expertise and guidance. The App will become available on the App Store soon, but if you’d like me to drop you a line when it becomes available, please use the contact form given here.

How to Draw the Caricature of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

How did I draw this Caricature of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of Caribbean fame?

Look at the caricature closely, and then scroll down to read how it was drawn.

Caricature of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Where is the cheese...Captain Sparrow?

This was an easy caricature to do. Let us see why.

When you are trying to create a caricature of an actor in a persona that has several distinctive features and accessories, then if you focus on the accessories, you can create a likeness of the persona…and because the persona (in this case, Jack Sparrow) is recognized by every human, cat, and dog; you can rest your brush and sleep in peace!

Take the example of Jack Sparrow. Here’s a list of his distinctive features.

  • The head-cloth/rag/band tied at one side,
  • The long matted hair,
  • The beard plaited into two,
  • The beaded hair-rings (!)
  • The blackened teeth,
  • And of course, the kohled eyes!

If you just drew the first three and left everything else blank, I believe most of the humans at least would readily nod their heads and tell you that you’ve indeed sketched Jack Sparrow.

But then, that would be an average attempt, and you don’t seem to me a person who’d accept anything that’s not classy! So next, you’d need to create a likeness with the actor too. So look for the features that the makeup-man didn’t mess with – so what you have now is the nose and the mouth (notwithstanding the blackened teeth.)

Here’s what I did to create this caricature.

Studying Johnny Depp and Jack Sparrow Pictures:

I first studied some Jack Sparrow pictures and then some Johnny Depp pictures. The Jack Sparrow pictures helped me see the details of his accessories and told me a lot about his personality, and the JD pictures gave me a clear picture of his nose, his mouth, and the shape of his face.

Caricaturing the Eyes:

The eyes grew bigger than actual to accommodate the effect of the kohl and the expression of surprise (at the audacity of the mice, of course.) You can read about caricaturing the eye here.

Caricaturing the Shape of the Face:

I’d classify Johnny Depp’s face as pentagonal. So when I did his jaw-line, I pulled out the mirror points to exaggerate the pentagon. Read about caricaturing the shape of the human face here.

Caricaturing Jack Sparrow’s Costume, Accessories, and Overall Persona:

As I said earlier, the accessories become extremely important in characters such as these. Other examples of such characters are: Captain Hook (with the Peter Pan connection) and Agent Smith (of the Matrix Trilogy.)
So…
The head ornament became a butterfly (it brings in a humorous contradiction with a pirate’s personality,) and a huge nut got added to the string of beads that hangs from his matted hair. The twin beard plaits became thicker and more prominent too.

The Joke in the Caricature:

Remember that a caricaturist need not stop at creating a visual caricature. Use words to your advantage. Also remember that a story makes a caricature more interesting and lively.
The concept that mothered the joke in this caricature was the slovenly (and unhygienic) look of Jack Sparrow. Such a man would be quite capable of hiding his cheese behind his ear and the mice would be his constant companions. Voila, two cute little mice jumped out of my pencil and began climbing his beard!

So, that was how the Johnny Depp – Jack Sparrow caricature came to be.

Next in this Series >> How to Draw Tiger Woods, his Women, and the Devil!

If you want to learn the nuances of creating caricatures in a fun and easy to learn way, you would like to read, “How to Draw Caricatures – The Evolution of a Caricaturist.

The Evolution of a Caricaturist – A Book on How to Draw Caricatures (a Google Knols Collection)

Dear Readers,

This post may be of interest to you if you want to learn how to create caricatures:–)

I aim to add at least one chapter a week to this book (more if possible,) and hope that you won’t just find it useful but also interesting to read. Find “The Evolution of a Caricaturist” at Google Knols. This short and sweet book will have about 15 chapters (did I hear you say, “Thank God!”), and I hope that it will help you start you on your way to becoming a Caricaturist Magician!

Your visit will be inspirational:) Feel free to drop me a line or post a comment here.

Smiles,

Shafali