This month, I had the opportunity to work on a very interesting assignment – President Obama Crowning himself King 🙂 My regular visitors know that I’ve done at least three Obama Caricatures in black and white (you can find them in the Gallery here,) but honestly, none drip humor the way this does.
Let me start by presenting the artwork.
Cover Art – The American Spectator – April 2014 Issue
If you are a conservative and you don’t subscribe to The American Spectator, you can explore it here.
Now the story behind the creation 🙂
Drawing and Painting President Obama’s Caricature
The Assignment Brief
The Assignment Brief was very clear – Barack Obama crowning himself King, wearing a robe, and could be shown admiring himself in mirror – perhaps a half-figure drawing, and on a solid color background.
When you illustrate for magazines, you walk the tight-rope between design and art. The constraints are important because they set the boundaries for your artwork. So you always begin with the constraints – unlike in Fine Art, where you begin with a concept and allow your artwork to evolve and define its own boundaries.
So the first thing to do was, visualize Obama on the cover – with a solid color background. The solid background made it essential that I visualized the entire color palette within the main figure.
Balancing the Colors
Check out the play of primary colors. The wine-red velvet of the robe and the crown; the golden-yellow of the mirror, the crown, and the tooth – were two warm colors (Red/Magenta, and Yellow)- To neutralize the heat of these two colors, I needed the third primary (Cyan/blue,) and so I decided on a blue tie and offered to paint the Eagle rug from the oval office, under his feet.
That’s how the colors played out, the black/gray/white – the neutrals notwithstanding 🙂
The Head/Body Ratio
Also note the head/body ratio. In this particular caricature, the expression of glee on the president’s face was the most important element of humor. The body was unimportant – purely a hygiene factor, necessary to define the composition. This is why I went for a very high head/body ratio – but I kept the hands big – they had to be, to hold such a huge crown.
Here’s a close-up of the Caricature of President Obama.
President Obama crowns himself King – Closeup – The American Spectator Magazine – April 2014.
A Few things to note:
As you can see, I added a few ideas to the original brief. It helps to discuss your ideas with the client. Sometimes, your ideas may be tossed out of the window, because they were too “morbid,” or they needed to be “watered down.” Here are a few things that I added – the diamond stud, the gold tooth, the eagle rug, the flag, and if you can find him – a tiny but smooth operator.
The diamond stud in Obama’s ear and the gold-tooth, both are affectations of the rich and they help strengthen the “King” in him. I worked with Obama’s younger and more enthusiastic look – not the older, grayer one…reverse aging is impossible, but in its impossibility it exaggerates the impact of the caricature. I had to do some research on his hands. The color, the veins, and also his wedding band (couldn’t have missed that.) I thought that a crown with a flag would look good too.
If you’d like to learn how to draw caricatures in a methodical way – check out “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Draw Caricatures” on Amazon.
Among all kinds of illustrations, caricatures evoke the highest response from the audience. A caricature achieves this by weaving the spell of humorous likeness around its subject.
This book establishes a logical method to harness the creative madness that results in caricatures. The author calls it the “Feature Frame Method” and illustrates how this method can be used to selectively exaggerate every facial feature.
Evolution of a Caricaturist helps you master the art of caricature drawing by presenting around 75 artworks and technical drawings, and then analyzing the features of more than 30 celebrity faces.
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