Blast from the Past: The Caricaturist Travels through Time and returns with the Funny Man!

Meet the Funny Man. I did this caricature last year, and if the date on the page of my 2013 diary can be relied on – it was done on April 15th – more than a year ago.

This drawing was done with Staedler’s Luna Pencils – the only color pencils that I had until I discovered Derwent. I had bought that set of pencils way back in 2001 or 2002, when a dear friend of mine and an exceptionally good artist told me that even grownups use color pencils. He had accompanied me to an art-supplies store (there weren’t many good ones in the city back then) and we had a bought a set for me, which unlike his set, didn’t come in a tin box (I still remember the slight twinge of disappointment that I had experienced then – so it must’ve been important for me back then. Today it won’t matter.)

Anyway, the point is, I drew this Funny Man with those pencils.

Caricature cartoon color pencil drawing sketch of a happy funny man with a big nose.

An Awesome nose on an awesome face…la…la…la

Then we started working on Toonsie Roll – a Caricature maker App that harnesses your intuition and your power of observation to help you tap out cute and cool-looking caricatures. Now everyone who’s got a smartphone knows that apps have icons…and I really wanted this app icon to cute, funny, and cool…and if possible, I wanted it to be intuitive too. So I sketched stuff out and we evaluated the sketches. We did everything that all the great artists do. We squinted, we walked backward to stand at a distance and look at the sketches, then we scanned them and zoomed them out to see if they were too cluttered. They passed the tests but they could make our hearts beat faster, because they all lacked the spontaneity that we were looking for.

Then we heard from some people who wanted me to create a few drawings for them…in the funny man style. So I went back to the post and checked it out – and when I looked at it, I knew that this guy could represent the spirit of Toonsie Roll. If it was a drawing app, we’d probably have gone ahead with the color-pencil drawing, but Toonsie Roll stays with the realistic photo-feel, so I painted the guy. Now he appears on the icon and also on the Splash Screen (I’ll share it with you soon.)

So this is how the Funny Guy got selected, got painted, and got framed! Toonsie Roll will soon be on the App Store for everyone who wants to create cute and funny caricatures (of friends, foes, or yourself – for a caricature avatar perhaps,) using a stylish app on their iPhones or iPads 🙂 I’ll keep you posted on this – so if you want to know when you can grab a copy of the app, just leave me a note using this contact form here.

Toonsie Roll Caricature maker app on App Store for iOS (iPhone/ipad - universal) for creating cute and funny caricatures.

Click to Read about Toonsie Roll.

This week I need to sketch a cute ex-President of the United States. I am looking forward to it…but today I was totally booked for Toonsie Roll!

You keep smiling while I rock and roll with Toonsie Roll 🙂

Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 4 – How to Draw Cartoon Eyes.

This post discusses the how and why of cartooning the eye.

While this post presents the essence of Chapter 5, it stands alone and doesn’t directly draw upon your learning from the previous chapters, except in on place, where I’ve added a relevant link.

The four images that I am adding here are almost self-explanatory, so I am going to keep the text to a minimum.

Importance of the Cartoon Eye

Cartoon eyes?

Well, two dots should suffice, shouldn’t they?

Guess they should, if you know what to do with those dots, because if you really want to draw cool cartoons, you need to go beyond the stick-figures and cookie-faced smilies (unless of course your mind-space is dominated by the conceptualizer.)

But I am serious when I ask you to stretch, squeeze, and twist the two dots of the eyes to make your cartoon characters come alive. Eyes are by and far the most important feature on the face of any creature (animals and humans alike.) They express. Period.

Please ref to Chapter 5 – Fig 1 below, where I present my case.

Book - Evolution of a Cartoonist - A book on how to draw cartoons - Importance of the eyes in cartoons.

The Uber-complex Structure of the Human Eye

The human eye is complex, and I am not talking about the internals of the eye. If I were talking about caricaturing the eye, I’d probably tell you stuff like “eye is spherical,” “the eyeball’s curvature is slightly different from that of the iris’…”, etc., but because cartooning requires that we simplify, why not begin by simplifying our learning, and focusing only on stuff that will impact our cartoons.

In the following image (Chapter 5 – fig: 2 for future reference,) you can see the simplistic structure of the human eye. It still is complex…but you don’t have to remember it all – just observe and move on.

Book - Evolution of a Cartoonist - A book on how to draw cartoons - Structure of the human eye - a Cartoonist's Perspective.

Simplifying the Eye

Now let us start simplifying the structure of the eye. Note that the moment we sacrifice any of the 8 basic elements of the human eye, we arrive in the realm of cartooning. Let us see how we can simplify the eye by removing each of the elements, until we are left with just the dot. Also note how life continues to fade out of the eye as we keep reducing the elements.

The decision of simplicity vs. complexity has to be taken in view of our need to capture and transmit the cartoon character’s emotions through its expressions. Practically, concerns such as the actual size of the drawing, the number of characters in it, (perhaps even the effort you can spare for your cartooning assignment,)  will influence your decision-making. The more complex you want your drawings to be, the more space you need to bring them to life.

The following figure (Chapter 5 – fig: 3) shows you a Cartoon look vs. Details graph that will help you understand the above rambles.

Note: The first statement refers to the definition of a Cartoon from Chapter 1 of the book. 

Book - Evolution of a Cartoonist - A book on how to draw cartoons -Simplifying the human eyes to draw the cartoon eyes.

Some Cartoon Eyes

Here are some cartoon eyes. In the second row these eyes are coupled with their respective brows. The brows and the eyes work as a couple and help us accentuate the expressions.

Book - Evolution of a Cartoonist - A book on how to draw cartoons-Some Cartoon eyes - expressions through brows

Chapter 5 has more on the eyes, so I am not concluding it here with a Chapter End-Note. I will soon making a couple of posts on how to cartoon the human face.

Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 3 – How to Draw Cartoons – Can YOU become a cartoonist?

As this post refers to content that’s covered in the two previous posts of this series, it is recommended that you begin by reading them in sequence:)

Read the two previous posts of Chapter 1:

  1. Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 1 – How to Draw Cartoons – Introduction, Working Definition, and Three Examples.
  2. Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 2 – How to Draw Cartoons – The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon.

This post helps you answer the question – Can YOU become a cartoonist?

This question is contextual, and the context is that of your current abilities. Here’s a continuum that you must find your place on.

The Evolution of a Cartoonist - A Book on How to Draw Cartoons - Chapter 1, Fig 1 - Conceptualizer vs. Illustrator

If you are like the guy at the right, you are worried about expressing your ideas in a visual form. However, if you can identify with the guy at the left, you can draw and illustrate but you worry about finding the right ideas.

The Stronger-half of a Cartoonist – The Conceptualizer

If you are an idea-generation machine but you feel constrained by you drawing abilities, you need to pick up some basic cartoon-drawing skills that can help you do “a relatively simplistic and sometimes exaggerated visual portrayal” of the many ideas that keep rushing in and out of your minds, so that you may capture them into an awesome cartoon. However, if you feel that you are Mr./Ms. Ideo (represented by the day-dreaming gentleman in figure 2 below) – and that no matter how you wield that pencil, you can do no better than create a squiggly, you may want to team-up with an artist, who can  create a picture that goes with your ideas…or perhaps, you could learn to create ultra-simplistic, Dilbert-Style cartoons that can speak your mind.

Mr./Ms. Ideo (The Conceptualizer in the following figure.) needs a visual medium of expression that can be used to capture those ideas that will grow wings and fly away, if they aren’t caught and trained.

The Evolution of a Cartoonist -A Book on How to Draw Cartoons - Chapter 1, Fig 2 - The Stronger Half of a Cartoonist - The Conceptualizer

The Fairer-half of a Cartoonist – The Illustrator

If you have placed yourself on the right side of this continuum, you must learn not only to generate ideas, but also train yourself on keeping them.  I’ve gone through the learning-to-generate-ideas phases, and I must tell you that it isn’t easy. However, if you are like Mr./Ms. Arto ( represented by the horrendously dressed, lip-smacking (!) gentleman in figure 3 below) you might find that you require considerable practice to ensure that you find your ideas and keep them too. Perhaps a helping hand from a friend who has a fertile mind, could help. Yet if you teamed up right, you could end up creating fantastic cartoons to delight your readers.

Mr./Ms. Arto (The Illustrator in the following figure) can draw, but he faces issues in finding the right ideas and visualizing them in a way that fits them into the cartooning mold.

The Evolution of a Cartoonist -A Book on How to Draw Cartoons - Chapter 1, Fig 2 - The Fairer-Half of a Cartoonist - The Illustrator

End Note for Chapter 1

(This end note is for those bright individuals, who think that they aren’t cartoonists and so they mustn’t create cartoons – and who identify themselves better with Mr./Ms. Ideo, I must mention the Johari window here, which speaks of the “Unknown Room”. Perhaps a comic post on the Johari Window is due on this blog, but for the time-being, it should suffice you to know that the Unknown Quadrant of the Johari Window, now called the Unknown Room, refers to your traits and skills that nobody know anything about, but they exist.

My advice here is that because you nor anyone else knows that they exist, just assume that they do (with due apologies to Mr. Joseph Luft (Jo) and Mr. Harrington Ingham (Hari) this is how the twisty logic of this caricaturist interprets it.) Dear Reader, possibly one of these unknown skills within you is the skill of cartooning…and nobody, not even you is aware of its existence, so dig it out! Surprise yourself, and surprise the world. Oh…and if you want to take the Johari Window Test, click here.)

Cartoons have a mysterious power to reach into the hearts and minds of people, and shake them out of their stupor.  Before we move on to the apparently more practical matter of explaining what a cartoon is, I must mention the fact that sometimes the cartoons that change the face of the world, don’t come from the cartoonists. We’ll discuss the reason behind this anomaly later, but let me share an example to corroborate my viewpoint.

Benjamin Franklin, officially created the first American political cartoon in 1754, which depicted a snake severed into 8 parts with a caption “Join, or Die” to bring together the colonies – thus, sowing the idea of the United State of America, in the minds of the people.

Franklin is considered to be one of the founding father of the United States –  among other things, he was an author, politician, scientist (he invented the bifocals and the Franklin Stove,) and a musician. Did you read the term cartoonist anywhere?

Reflect upon it while I disappear to bring you the second chapter of this book “Evolution of a Cartoonist” or the fourth post in the series. I hope this book will sow the seeds of cartooning into your mind, and motivate you to express your ideas in this delightful visual format.

Read the two previous posts of Chapter 1:

  1. Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 1 – How to Draw Cartoons – Introduction, Working Definition, and Three Examples.
  2. Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 2 – How to Draw Cartoons – The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon.