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

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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.

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How to Draw the Caricature of Jack Nicholson – The Wolf

Two caricatures have challenged me like no other. They are Jack Nicholson’s and George Clooney’s – however, the reasons that made them challenging were diametric opposites.

Before I tell you more, here’s the caricature that we’ll be discussing today.

Jack Nicholson the wolf caricature - as good as it gets!

Jack Nicholson’s face has a lot of elements that can be caricatured, while George Clooney has but one (his chin.) Thus, with Jack Nicholson’s caricature, I faced the problem of plenty. Yes, the same problem that plagues rich kids of rich dads (does it remind you of a Ms. Hilton?) – they don’t know what to do with what they have – and so they go through their lives baffled and uneasy. Jack Nicholson’s face to a caricaturist is like Paris Hilton’s rich dad. Really. His dreamy eyes, his deriding mocking smile, his crazy untidy hair, his strong dimpled chin, and of course, his poking-fun-at-you eyebrows! I was a confused caricaturist who had plenty to play around with and who wanted to splurge at everything and anything.

It is at moments such as these that self-restraint becomes a quality in a caricaturist. Instead of following my instincts blindly, I organized my thoughts and decided to exaggerate the brows and the chin more than I exaggerated the other features. I felt that these two features set his face apart from others’.

Here’s how I drew the caricature of Jack Nicholson.

Caricaturing Jack Nicholson’s Eyes

As I said, Jack Nicholson’s eyes have that dreamy drunken look, which seems to mock everyone they look at. The look seems to tell them, “I know better!”
I exaggerated the differences between his left and right eyes. I also gave him a slightly sideways glance to capture and exaggerate the look in his eye. Note that I haven’t played around with the shape of his eyes much. (Read “Caricaturing the Eyes” here.)

Caricaturing Jack Nicholson’s Jaw and Chin

The shape of Jack Nicholson’s face can be best classified as pentagonal (though his chin is heavy, somewhat squarish, and not too pointed, it is very prominent.) I pulled all the anchor points and the mirror points out of the feature frame, with all my might. In fact, I could well caricature myself having lost my foothold as I dangled from the mirror points on his jaw – trying to use all my weight to pull those points lower and wider, making his chin about three times his nose. (Read “Caricaturing the Shape of the Face” here.)

(Note: if the terms anchor points, mirror points, and feature frame make your eyebrows rise up in the middle (in other words, makes you wonder), you need to check out the Free Online book “How to Draw Caricatures – The Evolution of a Caricaturist”!)

Caricaturing Jack Nicholson – the Wolf’s Hair

Once again, I didn’t do much with the hair. I went for his slightly Wolf-y look and made his hair look a little rougher through some truly violent strokes of my pencil. I wanted them to look like the hair on a badger’s much talked about behind (or what I imagine the hair on a badger’s behind to be – discover in this funny poem here.)

And…finally,

Caricaturing Jack Nicholson’s Eyebrows

Honestly, his eyebrows look like he’s got them cello-taped to his forehead. Probably he has, but I couldn’t find enough evidence to support my hypothesis. I did contemplate taping his eyebrows up, but upon some reflection I discarded the idea. I wasn’t caricaturing Frankenstein’s monster, I was caricaturing a good-looking Hollywood Celebrity, who despite his years can make women swoon! So up went the brows – they got pierced and got those golden rings. (Read “Caricaturing the Brows & Brow-ridge” here.)

Caricaturing the Birds

When I was ready with the strings, the birds just flew in. They began chirping and I turned my translator on. Aha. On the sly, Jack Nicholson employs birds that keep his brows hitched up…nobody knew – until now. But now, the secret is out!

Here are some other things to do:

Have fun caricaturing:-) Spread the Smile!