Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Caricatures pt 1

Here's my two cents on Caricatures. I'm gonna spread this one out over about four posts.
I don't them these too often nowadays, generally just when people ask for one, no particular reason, 'cos they're fun, I just don't get around to it. I first got into doing them, back when I was in high school- they were good for a laugh at the teachers or friends and I got a bit of a knack for them and was doing them quite regularly. As far as inspiration goes for a particular style, I can't really name anyone in particular. Mort Drucker from the "Mad" magazine certainly would have been one, but primarily I s'pose it would have been the political cartoonists appearing in the daily paper. I remember my grandparents at one time brought home some caricatures done by a cartoonist they knew to show me, but I don't remember who it was. I imagine there were also a few how-to guides that I looked at as well.
The main gist I gathered from all of these was to exaggerate some prominent feature or features, nail the basic shape of the person's head and keep it to as few lines as possible (it was after all a cartoon and cartoons weren't loaded with linework), and the finishing touch- keep the head big on a little body. Oh, and it was generally a good idea in the end to be able to recognise the person.
The first look you get at a person, something will generally catch your eye- you try and emphasize that. It's their essence. Getting their head shape right is especially helpful with capturing the thing that makes them "them"- it also follows one of the prime animation rules, silhouette value. Line work is a necessity for capturing the person, but I feel that too many lines can make a person look old. It works if that person is old, but it's what I find makes doing caricatures of women especially hard. With women I generally stick to linework for just the main features- eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and bit of a nose. If I add too much more, they start looking old. So those lines have to be very carefully placed.
I've pretty much stuck with these rules and as a rule of thumb, generally don't do super-exaggerated caricatures. People with REALLY big noses, generally don't like having fun made of the fact that they have a really big nose. It all depends on the person and the circumstance. I tend to be fairly kind. It keeps the peace especially when you do them of family members, and of course they'll eventually ask for one.
I'm not going thru the archive to dig up ones from way back just yet but for starters here's one of my parents-in-law that a did a few years back. I'd done one a couple of years before that of my wife's Aunty and she'd loved it. After seeing it, my mother-in-law asked for one, eventually I agreed. This was done from a couple of photos(not the ones below), as we were living in Sydney at the time and they were down in Melbourne. I knew them well enough to be able to more-or-less use the photo's as a guide and not be restricted by the photo angle. Getting the right pose also helps too. This now has a pride of position in their house. The pics below are to show what they really look like, it's just a drawing if you don't know who it's of.

More to follow...

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