Learn to Draw Caricatures - Drawing caricatures with lines




Line Drawing

The first caricature you'll draw won't really be a caricature. What I want you to do is "dumb down" a portrait so we can get a caricature style of drawing going.

Draw this face with simple lines and shadows.

Does your drawing look something like this?

Get your lap desk out and put a sheet or two of paper on it and get comfortable in front of your computer. Sharpen your 5B pencil and have your eraser handy. If you'd like to print out the photo we'll be working with go ahead. I want you to try and draw the girl here with the simplest lines and shadows you can. Draw her in correct proportion, but do it with as few lines as you can. If you need to review how to measure the facial features to get correct proportions check out that section of DRAWING PEOPLE. To draw this girl, take as long as you need and erase any lines or shadows you don't like. Start with her eyes, correctly space the eyes, then draw the nose, then the mouth, then the chin, then enclose the whole thing with the hair. Measure all these features against one another so you keep correct proportion. The goal here is to learn a style of drawing that would be useful in caricaturing. Draw and shade simply as you can.

Does your drawing look anything like the one I did? If not, that's OK, I want you to develop your own caricaturing style anyway. But let me explain the features of my style and how to create them.

Bold Line Unlike portraiture, caricaturing should have an element of "cartoony-ness" to it, and cartoons have simple, bold lines. The lines you draw should really separate one element from another and be fat, dark and confident. Notice the line that is her chin. It's darker and more defined than that area on the photograph. And the lines that make up the nose are bolder than they are in the photograph as well. Thick lines create shadow without all that involved, time consuming, gradient shading stuff. Be confident in your lines and don't timidly sketch them, really mean it when you put a line on the paper and do it with one long and heavy stroke.

Detail of her right eye

Shadow You're going to draw shadows to complement your bold lines, but the shadows shouldn't be overpowering to the line. Look at the way I drew the shadows on the woman. Rather than do heavily gradient shadows, just hint at them. Draw the main shadows that will define the face, but don't draw every shadow. The way your subject is lit in the photograph is going to determine how you do your shadows. That's why I'd rather draw a pretty evenly lit photo, like the one above, than one that has really heavy shadows.

Hair Even the hair will get "dumbed down" in caricature. In portraiture you never draw each individual hair, you draw the shapes and shadows that the hair creates. You do the same thing in caricature, but the shapes and shadows you'd draw would be simpler than they would be in portraiture. In the example above I have about three gradients in the hair: White for highlights, dark for the hair that is visible behind her head, and a middle tone for the rest of it. In straight hair, you'd lay down shadows that go in the direction that the hair falls. I drew straight lines in the direction the hair was going, but I didn't draw each hair, I just hinted at the shadows created by the dark hair.

Your assignment: I'd like you to draw some other faces to try and develop a "caricature style" of drawing. Like above, don't try and do a caricature by distorting features, try and draw a face with the correct proportions, but draw it with simple, bold, lines and with minimal shadows. Rather than spending an hour or two doing a highly detailed drawing, try and draw a face in under a half hour. First, sit in front of a mirror with your lap desk and draw yourself. If you'd like to keep going and working on your drawing style, find a photograph online or in a family photo album. The face has to be large enough that you can see all the facial details. My rule of thumb on face size is that the face in the photo can't be smaller than my thumbnail.

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