How to Draw Caricatures the 5 Shapes
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How to Draw Caricatures The 5 Shapes
Sketch O’The Week Better late than never today…
I am getting bored with all the heads I‟ve been doing lately so I thought I‟d do something with a figure this week. This is NBA star Vince Carter, although I didn‟t really work too hard on the caricature. I spent more time studying the folds and action of his uniform. These fast shutter sports action shots capture billowing clothing in very unnatural feeling “frozen” positions, so when drawing them it‟s better to simplify rather than trying to duplicate every single tiny wrinkle. I went halfway between simplifying and going wrinkle-crazy.
How to Draw Caricatures: The 5 Shapes
Part One: Basic Theory and the Five Shapes This is the first of a series of articles I will post here on The MAD Blog about my theories, methods and processes concerning how to draw caricatures. A lot of this
information is part of what I teach my theme park artists, so it is derived partly from the approach of doing live, quick-draw caricatures. However all of that can be applied to more studio orientated caricature work and I have also added points and concepts directly from the less time-constrained world of caricature illustration. Therefore this is not instruction for just the live caricaturist but for any artist interested in caricature for any purpose. These kinds of things always start out with a definition, but “caricature” is a hard thing to pigeonhole into a single sentence. How can you, when the word encompasses the elegant, minimalist lines of Al Hirschfeld to the lavish, value and color soaked paintings of Sebastian Kruger to the graphic, geometrical collages of David Cowles and everything in between? Despite the wild differences in style and technique, “caricature” is the tag that is placed on any of these works of art without hesitation. Obviously there is a connection beyond a common technique, school or format. So, what are the universal elements all caricatures have that identify them as caricatures? I would say there are three essential elements that transcend style and medium and must be present in a caricature:
Likeness- If you can‟t tell who it is supposed to be, then it is not successful. All good caricatures incorporate a good likeness of their subjects. Exaggeration- Without some form of exaggeration, or a departure from the exact representation of the subject‟s features, all you have is a portrait. The level of exaggeration can vary wildly, but there must be some departure. A straight portrait is not a caricature. Statement- I believe a caricature must editorialize in some way. The artist must be trying to say something about the subject. It might be something to do with the situation the subject is drawn in, it may just be a play on their personality through expression or body language, it might be a simple as making visual fun of some aspect of their persona or image. Exaggeration itself can accomplish this in some cases. The best caricatures say something more about the subject than that they have a big nose.
By my „definition‟, a successful caricature therefore looks like the subject, is exaggerated to varying degrees and also has something to say about the subject… some sort of editorial comment. In “live” caricature at a theme park, that third item is often turned way down or ignored completely, but in the case of caricatures for illustration, it‟s an important part.
Teaching Someone to See I‟ve been working with young caricaturists at theme parks for over two decades now, and I‟ve learned one very important lesson… it‟s impossible to teach someone to draw caricatures. I can teach them to DRAW… that isn‟t so hard. Learning how a face looks and works by learning anatomy, how expression changes the features, how the angle the face is at changes the perception of features, how hair grows and falls about the head… those are things that can be taught. Drawing caricatures, on the other hand, is a lot more about seeing what makes the person in front of you unique and personal interpretation than it is about making good, confident marks on the paper. I can explain to someone exactly how to draw a circle, but if I place a circle before them and ask them to draw it and they draw a square… well, that is all about seeing and not drawing. The ability to
see, and after that the ability to exaggerate what you see for humorous effect in a caricature… that has to be developed. For most that means a lot of drawing and a lot of looking. Have you ever been walking along at the mall or where ever and along comes somebody with some crazy, incredibly distinct face that maybe sports a gigantic nose or a Cro-Magnon brow or some other obviously out-of-the-ordinary features? Caricaturists have a term for that kind of face… it‟s called a “field day”. Think about it for a second… why is that face so ripe for caricature compared to the next guy‟s? Are the features really that different? If you took a ruler and measured the size of Mr. Shnozzes‟s nose compared to Mr. Normal, the difference would be minimal. So why is he so easy? Because you are SEEING a difference based on perception, and that is giving you your springboard for a caricature. One observation of what makes this person different from “normal”, and you are off and running. The obvious features are easy observations… it‟s Johnny and Susie Normal or, worse yet, Johnny and Susie Supermodel that are the challenge. That is where developing an ability to “see” becomes important. There is no face that defies caricature, you just sometimes have to dig a little deeper to find the keys to unlock the more difficult puzzle. In caricature, the old adage of “practice makes perfect” has never been truer. The ability to see doesn‟t spring up overnight, and I often tell eager young caricaturists they have about 500 or so bad caricatures in them they have to draw out first before they start noticing the subtle things that hide inside the “ordinary” face. Although I say it‟s “impossible” to teach someone to draw caricatures, it‟s not impossible to help them develop their ability to draw them. There are many ways and techniques to help an artist develop their ability to see what is in front of them, recognize what makes what they see unique and then amplify that uniqueness to create a successful caricature. There are general concepts that apply to the overall approach of a caricature as well as specific tricks and tips for individual features and important, main elements that I will be sharing over the multiple parts of this series of articles.
The Five Shapes The human face is perceived by many as an incredible complex object. There are about 52 muscles in the face, depending on your source and it‟s categorization. Age, sex, race, expression (the face is capable of about 5,000 expressions) weight and environment can all play a role in the look and perception of a given face. Sounds pretty complex. Not really. Every building, no matter how complex, starts out with a foundation and framework. Look at this simple drawing:
Show that drawing to any human being in the world and ask them what it is. Barring a language barrier, they will tell you it‟s “a face”. No other information needed. In it‟s most simple form, the human face is made up of only five simple shapes:
Place these shapes in their proper relationship, and you have a human face. It really is that simple. Drawing the shapes accurately, so they recognizably represent the subject‟s features, is the basis for a good likeness. Beyond that is nothing but details… things like dimples, wrinkles, eyelashes, cheekbones, etc. They are the decor to your building… the millwork, furniture and drapery that makes the place unique and filled with life. Without the strong foundation, however, it can all come tumbling down. What does that have to do with caricature? Everything. I mentioned a single word in the last paragraph that really is the secret to caricature as a whole no matter what technique or approach you intend to practice:
RELATIONSHIPS It‟s the manipulation of the RELATIONSHIP of these five simple shapes that create the foundation for your caricature. In fact, I‟d argue that 90% of the entire caricature resides in how you relate these five simple shapes to one another. It is the foundation upon which the rest of your building is built, where the real power of exaggeration is realized. Make it good and almost all the heavy lifting is done, the rest merely referring to details. What do I mean by “relationships”? I mean the distances between the five shapes, their size relative to one another, and the angles they are at in relationship to the center axis of the face. Distance. Size. Angle.
In traditional portraiture, the head is divided into “classic proportions” (we‟ll get into that more next time), meaning the relationship of the features are within a certain, accepted range of distance to one another, size and angle relative to the face and head shape. You achieve your likeness in a classic portrait, in it‟s most basic form, by correctly drawing the shapes and then the details of each feature according to the model in front of you while staying within the framework of the “classic” proportions. Of course each face varies minutely here and there, but still you do not stray far from the classic formula. In a caricature, like a portrait, the likeness is also achieved by drawing the features as they really look… but you change the relationship of the features based on your perceptions of the face. The relationships you change are as I listed before: distance, size and angle. Look at these VERY simple drawings that demonstrate how you can change the relationships of the five shapes and create very different caricatures:
No detail, and all the shapes are basically the same with the exception of the head shape (again, more on that later… MUCH more) but all are distinctly different and when the details are added will make for highly varied caricatures. The difference is the relationships between the features, and how they have been exaggerated and changed.
Caricature is not about choosing one feature and making it bigger, it‟s about all the features together and how they relate to one another. Here are some quick studies of the 5 shapes beneath a few caricature sketches:
The relationships differ in distance, size and angle from one another. The bigger the differences are from “classic” proportions, the more exaggerated the caricature. It‟s much easier to see the differences when the details are removed and only the 5 shapes are left. It‟s also much easier to create those differences at this simple, fundamental level. It‟s easy to get caught up in details when the important information rests beneath the rendering. How does one determine the “correct” changes to make to a given person‟s feature relationships to make a good caricature of them? Well, that‟s the trick, isn‟t it? That is were that pesky “seeing” comes in. In his book “How to Draw Caricatures“, Lenn
Redman uses a concept called “The Inbetweener” as a basis for almost every observation. It is basically the classic portraiture relationships used as a point of reference for making observations. Every caricature begins with the observations the artist makes about the subject, and how their particular face is perceived by them. MAD legend Mort Drucker has been quoted as saying that there is no “one correct way” to caricature a subject. Any given subject can have several difference interpretations with respect to the exaggeration of the relationship of their features… and each may be as successful as the other. That‟s one of the unique things about caricature as an art form. Portraiture is basically absolute… Your drawing either looks like the person with the correct features, proportions and relationships, or it does not. Caricature is subjective to a point. The artists goal is to draw how they perceive the face, and exaggerate that perception. The result may be different than how others perceive that face, but if the three elements we described in our definition are present it‟s still a successful caricature. Hirschfeld used to say he once drew Jimmy Durante without a nose at all, yet it was still recognizable as Durante. That‟s not to say that any observation is appropriate… after all you can‟t give someone with a small, button nose a gigantic potato schnozz and call it “exaggeration”. That‟s not exaggeration, it‟s DISTORTION. You can, however, choose NOT to exaggerate the nose‟s smallness but rather find something else to exaggerate. That is the caricaturist‟s task, to find what it is about the subject‟s face that makes it unique and alter those relationships to exaggerate that uniqueness. Next time We will delve more deeply into the relationships of features, what to look for and some rules to follow when changing those relationships that will make the rest of the face fall into place. These articles on drawing caricatures will appear on The MAD Blog every week or so, and will eventually be collected, expanded and published in book form.
How to Draw Caricatures: Relationship of Features
Part Two: Relating the Features Previously I mentioned how the relationships between features are the driving force behind caricature: “Caricature is not about choosing one feature and making it bigger, it‟s about all the features together and how they relate to one another.” Actually caricature is about changing the relationships between features, meaning their distance, size and angle relative to one another, from what they truly are and what is considered “normal”. Deciding what relationships to change and how much to change them is one of the caricaturist‟s most important jobs, and one of the most difficult to “learn”. The actual difference between the relationship of features of most humans does not add up to much in terms of physical measurements… a “big” nose may be only a fraction of an inch larger than a “normal” nose. Yet we can see different feature relationships on almost everybody, some which seem very pronounced. That is because we spend basically our entire lives looking into people‟s faces… we go it when we interact, work, play, go shopping or to church… we are social beings and our faces are both our identities and our method of communication. Our ability to observe minute differences becomes very fine tuned. Mostly it‟s unconscious, but we see that fraction of an inch larger nose as “big”, or we see this person‟s eyes as large or this person‟s mouth as small based not on physical measurements but on our overall perception of the
features and how they relate to one another. Consciously making those observations, especially for those faces in which the unique aspects are not obvious, is the most difficult part of drawing caricatures. There are some techniques and methods you can use to help make those observations.
Classic Portrait Proportion and Observation It‟s important to start somewhere, and the best place is with what is considered “normal” relationships of features for two reasons. First, knowing these classic proportions will help you as a caricaturist to observe where your subject‟s face might differ by providing a point of reference to compare it to. Second, once you‟ve made these observations you can use that same point of reference, the classic portrait proportions, as a guide to get as far away from as possible to create your caricature. Let‟s start out looking at the classic human proportions in traditional portraiture (this is boring, but it‟s important). One method that has been used for centuries is by using the width of an eye, from corner to corner, as the primary frame of reference:
In this method, the head is five eye widths wide, with a single eye width between the eyes, and between the outside eye corners and the outside of the head. The nose is one eye width wide, and therefore the nostrils are equal to the corners of the eyes. Another simple method for establishing the “normal” relationship between eyes and mouth is via
the equilateral triangle that should be formed by the points of the outside corners of the eyes, and the center point of the bottom of the lower lip. Every book on learning to draw the human face has some similar method of standardizing the proportions of the average face. Do human faces really conform to these exact relationships? No, of course not. That‟s the point. There are differences from this face to that, some very slight and some more pronounced, and the caricaturist exaggerates these differences to create a caricature. Knowing what is supposed to be there is half the battle of seeing where things are different. Again, making these observations is the trickiest part of doing caricature, but the good news is you don‟t have to come up with a shopping list of deformities in order to do a caricature. In fact, all you have to do is come up with one good observation. Just one, and you can use that as your cornerstone and build your caricature around it. It could be as simple as: this person has a skinny face… or big eyes… or a small mouth… or a square jaw… or a bent nose… or whatever. More than one is better, but just one will suffice.
Action and Reaction Why is only one observation enough? Because “no feature is an island”. What I mean is that all the features relate to one another fundamentally, and you cannot make a change to one feature without it affecting the others. This is one of the few constants you can rely on with respect to drawing caricatures: Action and Reaction. In physics every action causes an equal an opposite reaction. In caricature the action of changing the relationship of a single feature to the others causes the others to react in often predictable ways. You cannot change the eyes without affecting the nose, mouth, head shape, etc. and how it affects those other features follows (for the most part) a predictable path. Say we make an observation about our subject that the eyes seem far apart. If we move the just the eyes farther apart and leave the rest of the face untouched, we have a bizarre looking result:
There is an awkwardness to the “caricature” We can‟t ignore the effect on the other features. The act of moving the eyes father apart forces the other features to react. Typically when the eyes move father apart, the nose moves closer to the eyes, the mouth moves along with the nose, the head becomes wider and, in turn shorter:
The features work better together here
Additional observations can change the path of the reaction. Say our observations are that the eyes are far apart, but the mouth is also far from the nose. Because of that action, the lower part of the face must be longer, and therefore the top part of the head becomes smaller:
Hmmm… looks like my brother… Head shape is often the most affected, and is not coincidentally a big focus. In fact part three of this series will deal entirely with head shapes. For now we will stick with the interior features and their relationships.
The “T” Shape I have talked a lot about simplifying the face by boiling it down into the 5 Shapes, but it can get even simpler than that in terms of both making observations and in playing with the relationships of features to make a caricature. In fact I believe there are two absolutely crucial, key components to any caricature: The head shape and the “T” shape. These are the two elements of a face I look at first and try to make observations about, because with them I can push, stretch and exaggerate the face to great effect with relative ease. When I talk about the “T” Shape I am speaking of the geometric shape created by the eyes and nose as a single unit. In simplest terms they create a capital “T”. Sometimes the “T” can be short and wide, sometimes it can be long and thin, or somewhere in between. The angle at which the eyes rest to the center axis of the face can change the “T” into more of a “Y”, or more of an arrow shape. I treat the “T” not as a set of simple lines but as a contour shape with thickness, therefore the stem (or nose) of the “T” can be thicker or thinner at one end or the other, and the arms (or eyes) of the “T” can also
change in thickness to accommodate big round eyes or narrow, squinty ones. Imagine a contour capital “T” drawn around the eyes and nose in varying relationships.
The shape of the “T” reacts to changes you make to the relationship of the eyes and nose. In most cases the eyes and nose work in a predictable tandem within their relationship. Imagine that the eyes and nose are connected by a string that travels through a two wheel pulleys located in the center of the eyes. The length of the string is constant. If the person‟s eyes are moved farther apart, the string pulls the nose closer into the eyes. If the nose is made longer, then the eyes are drawn closer together. All of this takes place within the “T” shape.
The mouth, nose and chin have a similar connection. they have a constant amount of distance between each other. If the mouth is perceived as being close to the nose, the chin moves a little farther away as a reaction. There are similar rules that apply to the head shape, which we‟ll get into next time. This is extreme simplification, but a I have said before the simpler you can make the shapes you are working with, the easier it is to exaggerate them and create your caricature. If you imagine a shape as simple as a “T”, it‟s very easy to exaggerate that “T” shape and then plug in the features as they really look within your simple shape and
you have your caricature. Take a look at these caricatures and the “T” shapes within their head shapes:
The “T” Shape and head shape combine to create the base of your caricature, over them the 5 shapes further define the relationships of the features, and over the 5 shapes the features themselves are drawn and things like bone structure, anatomy, expression, skin, hair and other details work to create the likeness and bring the underlying structure to life. It‟s still all built on these simple foundations. I would suggest as an exercise to forget about rendering and drawing details caricatures for a moment and fill up a few sketchbook pages with nothing but the head shape and “T” shape of the faces you see when paging through a magazine. Draw one quickly using just your initial observations and first impressions of the face. Then look back at it and try to see where it differs from the “normal” template of classic proportion, then try it again, this time exaggerating your first try. Do this with a dozen faces a day, and see how your ability to “see” the caricature in a given face develops. Next time: Head Shapes!
How to Draw Caricatures: Head Shapes
Part Three: The Importance of Head Shapes When I first started drawing live caricatures I felt that the eyes were the most important part of the face, and I put a lot of emphasis and focus on them. I still think the eyes are a crucial element, but over the years I‟ve come to believe that the head shape is the most important part of a caricature. The head shape is the fulcrum upon which a caricature hinges. The heavy lifting of all exaggeration is accomplished via the shape of the head, and it is more easily accomplished that way. Considering that the head shape is a single shape, it is easier to recognize how that shape differs from “normal” and it is easier still to draw a corresponding simple shape that exaggerates those properties as opposed to the more complex multiple relationships of the features. By stretching and exaggerating the head shape, you create the framework within which your other features and their relationships are drawn to achieve your caricature. I have spoken of the “5 Shapes” and the importance of their relationships already, but digging a little deeper it‟s accurate to say that the head shape is “Shape 1″ and the other four shapes are planets to it‟s sun, working within it‟s all encompassing field of gravity. If a caricaturist can “see” and exaggerate the head shape, all the other features fall into place and follow along. In the last lesson I talked about the “T” shape being a focal point of the basic caricature, but it‟s really the “T Shape” and the head shape together as
a whole that acts are the basic foundation of a caricature. With those shapes and their relationships established, the rest of the caricature quickly follows suit.
Seeing the Head Shape I talk endlessly about seeing shapes within the features and the face, and the importance of drawing those shapes accurately to capture likeness and to create a convincing drawing. Again, it‟s difficult to teach anyone to “see”… that ability is developed over time via practice and hard work. Still, there are a few techniques and tricks I have learned that can help artists to better see what is in front of them, and better interpret it in their drawing. Many work for any feature or “shape” within the face, but some are specific for individual features. Head shapes have several of these tricks for both initial observations and exaggeration. Classic Proportion As with Redman‟s „”Everyman” concept, it‟s important to have an understanding of classic human proportion an anatomy to have a springboard from which observations can be made. This is important both for helping to see what makes a given face unique by comparing it to those “normal” proportions, and for helping to exaggerate those unique aspects by giving the artist a “starting point” from which to depart as much as possible.
The classic adult head is an oval, slightly flattened along the top. The head is exactly divided in half at the eyes, meaning there is equal distance from the horizontal line of the eyes to both the top and bottom of the head. The head is five eye widths wide, and the widest point is typically at the temples, but can be anywhere from the cheekbones to just above the ears. The distance, or more accurately the “mass” of the head above and
below the eyes, and how those two areas relate, is a crucial part of the head shape as it relates to caricature. I will refer to it often. Simplifying Shapes The head shape is really made up of a lot of different features including cheekbones, cheeks, brow, jawline, chin, forehead, hair, etc. While these are all important elements of the whole, at this stage we need to treat the head as a single shape and keep it as simple as possible. Simple shapes are easier to draw, control and manipulate than ones with a lot of complex elements to them. It‟s easy to get hung up on the details and not be able to see past them to the underlying foundation. Here are some tricks to help make initial observations and come up with a simple head shape: 1. Squint Your Eyes This is an old portrait artists trick. Squint your eyes or close them so you are looking through your eyelashes at your subject. This eliminates the details and forces you to see only vague shapes and forms. That makes it easier to see the simple shapes and drawn them. 2. Points of Reference I look for these with every feature I draw. What I mean by “points of reference” is finding a specific point or part of a feature to use as an anchor point from which you can make your observations. Each feature has unique points of reference, but in general things like horizontal or vertical dividing lines can always be used for this purpose.
With the head shape, the horizontal line create by the eyes is a good point of reference. Using this imaginary dividing line, it‟s easy to see how much of the head lies above that lie, and how much below. I also will look for the widest point of the head shape, knowing that once I have found these points I need only to make sure the rest of the head shape lies in between them. I will also look for straight lines along the contour of
the head shape, and draw them accordingly. Finally, I will look for points along the face contour where there is an angular change of direction. The back of the jaw and sides of the chin will often have these points. Any or all of these points of reference can help you “see” the rest of the head shape by comparing what is around it to the point of reference you have established. 3. Shape Association This is a strange but effective way of grasping a simple head shape, and for exaggerating it at the same time. Try to associate the head shape of your subject with the shape of some inanimate object you are familiar with. Maybe this person has a head shaped like a lightbulb (small, narrow bottom of the face with a big forehead) or that person‟s head shape may remind you of a peanut (squeezed at the temples). Whatever strikes you. I don‟t mean you draw a light bulb with the face on it, but rather use your imagination and keep that object in mind as a template for the head shape you draw.
Of course, it‟s a fun exercise to draw those objects with faces on them just for fun and practice. Doing that helps your ability to spot those associations within your subject‟s head shape.
Exaggerating the Head Shape
I mentioned earlier that the head shape is a place where exaggeration is most easily applied to the greatest effect. This is because altering the head shape to any appreciable degree creates a drawing radically different than a portrait. Any change to the head shape from the “normal” shape has a very high impact to the viewer, and the features, by way of their necessary relationships within the head shape, are forced to follow suit and become exaggerated. My analogy of the head shape being a “fulcrum” is an apt one, because the slightest change in the head shape can radically change all other aspects of the face. Because the head is treated as a single shape, it is relatively easy to make those exaggeration decisions and execute them. Unlike the interior features of the face, which change with expression, the head shape is a constant that only changes with the angle of the head, and then only as any object will change when rotating in space. When exaggerating the head shape, all you really need is ONE observation about it to build your caricature upon. It could be as simple as observing that the model has a skinny face, or a large chin, or a small forehead. Multiple observations are great, but one strong one is all you need because it will create a cascading effect with your drawing to define your caricature. Here are some methods of seeing and exaggerating the head shape: 1. Visual Weight One key to exaggerating the head shape is to decide where the “visual weight‟ of the head lies. That can be as simple as using the afore mentioned line of the eyes as a reference point and asking yourself “does more of the face lie above the eyes, or below?” That is visual weight… the placement of head mass relative to some point of reference like the line of the eyes.
We know that in a “normal” proportioned head the mass is equal. However how we perceive the face is different than it‟s physical measurements. Whenever you can depart from the equal mass rule it‟s important to do so. That is caricature. 2. The Law of Constant Mass There are very few “rules” that are universal as it applies to caricature… things like expressions, posture and unique physical attributes make it almost impossible to be able to say “this is always true”. Here is one rule that never changes, however, and it‟s a powerful tool to create convincing exaggerations… the law of constant mass. By using
it, you can take that “one observation” about the head and follow through with the rest of the head shape. Imagine you have sculpted a perfectly proportioned head out of wet clay. Your head is done, but you have used up all your clay. You decide you want to create a caricature rather than a realistic bust of your subject. Looking at the model you decide they have a large jaw, so you want to make the jaw bigger. With no more clay to work with, you need to get that clay from somewhere to pack on to the jaw and make it larger. Where do you get it from? You take it from the top of the head, taking away from the size of the top to make the bottom bigger. That is the law of constant mass.
The head has only so much mass. You cannot make one area bigger or smaller without affecting the other areas. A person with a big chin will automatically have a smaller top of a head. Likewise someone with a big forehead will also have a smaller bottom of a face. This serves to create exaggerations of higher impact, since the perception of a large jaw is made more pronounced when the top of the head is smaller. It‟s the same concept as when a gray value appears closer to white when surrounded by a much darker value and looks darker when surrounded by white. The law of constant mass also works sideways, with respect to the width of a face… if the face is very wide you need to take mass from both the top and bottom to create that width. Of course this will also affect the relationships of the interior features, because they must now fit within he exaggerated head shape. 3. Rubber Concept Another way to think about how the entire head shape is affected by a single observation is to imagine a head made of soft, goo filled rubber. Now if we make the observation that our subject has a narrow face, we need to squeeeeze our rubber head like a vice to make it narrower. The effect of this is that the head bulges out on the top
and bottom. If we decide the head is wide, we pull the outsides out… the result is the top and bottom get sucked in. If we squeeze the forehead, the jaw bulges out.
What is good about this method is that if we imagine the features of our subject also molded into the initial rubber head, we can see how they will faithfully follow the squeezing, stretching and it‟s consequences. It‟s important to trust the follow through of the cause and effect associated with the exaggeration of the head shape via the law of constant mass and/or the rubber concept when drawing a caricature. Even if that lantern jawed subject does not appear to have a small top of the head, it is important to follow through with that moving of the mass if you want to emphasize that jaw and maintain a balance in your drawing… otherwise your exaggeration will be awkward and a lot less clear. The shape of the head is a crucial element to a good caricature… arguably THE crucial element. Accurately observing the head shape, making good decisions on where to place the visual weight and exaggerating that shape is central to an effective caricature.
How to Draw Caricatures: Eyes
Part Four: Drawing Eyes I‟ve written in past tutorials on drawing caricatures that you can‟t really teach someone to draw caricatures… that is more about developing their “sight” and observation skills and also developing an ability to find that which make an individual face unique and exaggerating it. Since every face is different this is an exercise in personal observation and decision. Therefore after I have gone over the information in my pervious tutorials, I switch gears an concentrate on teaching rookie live caricaturists how to draw the individual features, both how to see them, exaggerate them and how to draw them in line to best effect. Here is where style becomes an issue. What I have written about previously can apply to almost any style of caricature, from the richly painted to the most minimalist of line. In these next series of tutorials some aspects of what I talk about will relate specifically with a style of caricature like my own… based on cartoon line either inked or in some other medium. Therefore those with different sensibilities and styles can take from it what they will and apply what makes sense to them, and ignore the rest. I will try to center my discussion on that which applies to a broader range of styles than just my own. My method for teaching the individual features begins with a lesson on real anatomy. I‟m not a big believer in memorizing every anatomical name but I do believe you must
have a good working knowledge of how a feature is put together in order to have a good command over the drawing of said feature. Following the anatomy lesson, I talk about different techniques to help “see” the shape of the feature and understand how to draw it, including realistic proportion. Finally I talk about interpreting the feature in terms of exaggeration and incorporating it into the whole.
Points of Reference Seeing and drawing anything is all about shapes and the correct drawing of them or in the case of caricature the correct drawing of the exaggeration of them. Either way you still have to “see” the object you are drawing and understand it‟s form first. We have all seen depictions of artists on TV raising their arm outstretched towards their models with the thumb out from the fist and squinting their eyes before drawing. That is supposed to represent an old artist‟s trick of using their thumb, or hand, or pencil or some other object to measure their subject‟s features relative to one another, or to see angles or other relationships. The thumb is supposed to be a “point of reference”… a constant that is used to make accurate observations of the subject. Establishing points of reference in the face is key to helping to “see” shapes and make observations. With each feature and the face overall I will suggest several things I use as constant points of reference, which I can then use as a starting point from which other observations are based. Any kind of drawing can benefit from this simple concept. Our first feature is the eyes. I‟ve always felt that the eyes of a caricature are the center of everything, literally the center of the face but figuratively the center of expression, personality and “life” as it were. Therefore I‟ve always place special emphasis on the eyes and begin and end with them, after the head shape, as the focus of almost any caricature.
Anatomy of the Eye
The human eye is made up of an round orb (eyeball) that rests in and slightly protrudes from a socket of bone and tissue, surrounded orbital muscles and by covered by skin in the form of eyelids. The visible parts of the eyeball include the pupil (black circle in the center of the eye), the iris (colored area around the pupil) which includes the stroma (the thread-like fibers that radiate from the pupil out to the edge of the iris), and the sclera
(whites of the eyes). The tissue surrounding the eyes include the inner and outer canthus (the “corners” of the eyes), the caruncula (the small, reddish, oval shaped piece of tissue in the inner corner which is sometime incorrectly referred to as the „tear duct‟), and the semilunar fold (where the eyeball meets the caruncula). The eyelids consist of the upper and lower lid plates (the actual eyelids that fold down and up to cover the eyeball), the eyelashes or cilia, which are attached to the free edges of the lid plates in a double or triple row and are short, thick and curved hairs.
Seeing the Eye Shape Despite what I said about the importance of the eyes, the eye is still just another feature and it has a shape like any other feature of the face. When I refer to the “shape” of the eye I am talking about the visible portions of the eyeball, created by the space between the upper and lower lids.
The exterior part of the eyes, like the lids themselves and the area that surround the eye also are very important in capturing the eye itself, but it‟s that initial shape that you use and a springboard for the rest of the eye. In order to “see” the eye shape, you must ignore the pupil, iris and all the lines and visual noise that surround the eye, and look at just the pure shape. Imagine an eye this pure white like the Exorcist eye… that white is the shape you are looking for. Remember also that the eye is not flat, but protrudes quite a bit from the face and the lids have a definite thickness to them.
Typically the eye is NOT shaped like a football or an almond. The upper and lower lids are not mirror images of each other. In fact, they are very different. The lower lid is usually much less of an arc than the upper lid, moving more straight across from corner to corner. The upper lid overlaps the lower lid in the outer corner, and and is farther removed from the horizontal axis of the eye, which is created by an imaginary line connecting the corners. This horizontal axis, or “corner to corner” line, is a central part of making observations about the eye, it‟s shape and it‟s relationship with the rest of the face. More on that in a second. The eye shape is more of an asymmetrical ying-yang shape that a symmetrical almond. The upper lid line rises somewhat sharply from the caruncula, peaks about 1/3 of the way across the eye and then arcs more softly towards the outer corner. The lower lid does the opposite, it‟s “peak” being it‟s lowest point, about not quite 1/2 of the way from the outer corner in, and arcing to the caruncula. In the simplest of geometric terms, the eyes are quadrilaterals with the four points being the inner and outer corners, the highest point of the upper lid and lowest point of the lower lid. Naturally we don‟t draw the eyes with straight lines connecting the dots, but in “seeing” the shape in simple terms like this we can use these points of reference to better capture the shape of the eyes, as well as using them to manipulate the feature for exaggeration purposes. Let‟s get back to the “corner to corner” line I mentioned earlier. This is very useful in helping to determine not only the shape of the eye, but it‟s relationship to the axis of the face. Imaging the line going from the outside corner of each eye inward to the inside corner and then onward to the center axis of the face, what we really have it the central angle of the arms of the “T Shape” I talked about in an earlier tutorial. By looking at how that line intersects the eye itself, we can see how much of the eye shape lies above the line, how much below, where the contour lines of the eye shape travel along that line. We can also see at what angle the eye lies to the center axis of the face. Are the outside corners of the eyes higher than the insides? Lower? Even? Are they the same or
is one different than the other? You can use the line to exaggerate the angle you see to great effect. The Corner-to-Corner line is a great tool for observation and “seeing” the eye itself, as well as a point of reference both both accurate drawing and observation.
Another method I use for understanding the eye shape is to look for any straight lines in the contour of the eye. Lines that are straight or nearly straight can be used as another point of reference for seeing the rest of the eye and also used as beginning points for the actual drawing of the eye itself. In many cases, the longer part of the upper eyelid, that from the “peak” to the outside corner, is often close to a flat line. Look for straight lines and observe their relationships to the rest of the eye shape‟s contour to better “see” the eye shape.
Exaggerating the Eye The exaggeration of any feature must be done with the whole in mind, and not be treated as some separate entity. Seen in a vacuum, it might be tempting to exaggerate the size of the eyes because they have a round and wide eyed look. However when the rest of the face is taken into account, it might very well be that the eyes need to be small and beady within a massive face. Exaggeration in caricature is all about the relationships of the features to one another, and not the features themselves taken individually. However many of the observations you might make about the eyes can factor into the essential whole, especially the angle the eyes are at relative to the center axis, and the shapes of the eyes themselves. The angle of the eyes is the easiest thing to exaggerate. If the outer corners are higher than the inner, then you simply make them higher still, and vice versa. Once you make the observation, doing the resulting exaggeration is easy. Exaggerating the shape of the eye is a little trickier. It can be easy to compromise the likeness, but when done right it actually enhances the likeness of the caricature. That‟s because the shapes of features are also describing the expression of the subject, and exaggerating expression is a central part of good caricature. If someone‟s eyes become squinty when they smile, drawing them squinty-er will exaggerate their expression as well as their face, and expression is personality. Capturing personality is an essential goal. If your eye shape is squinty, make it more squinty.
If it‟s wide open, make it more wide open. They should still look like the eyes you are drawing, but with your observations as a guide you turn up the volume a bit… or a lot if you can without losing the likeness. Take this set of eyes that are very round and intense:
We can exaggerate the shape of them as well as their look by emphasizing the whites surrounding the pupil/iris, and the roundness of the lower eye. In this case I also exaggerate the angle of them by raising the outside corners. Not by much in either case here… what I am really exaggerating and trying to capture is the intensity of the eyes themselves. Those little observations combine to allow me to get that piercing gaze.
Certain styles of caricature will go farther and “interpret” the shape and actually change it into a representation of the shape itself. Here are those eyes as might be drawn by Al Hirshfeld:
or Mort Drucker:
An artist‟s individual style aside, it comes to the same… seeing the shapes and uniqueness of the features and drawing it in a way that describes it for the viewer to understand. As always, caricature is about PERCEPTION and not hard physical reality. In this picture, our perception of the eyes of this model is changed by the makeup surrounding them:
The heavy eyeliner and over-thick exterior lashes near the outer canthus make her look like the inner whites of her eyes are much larger than the outer, giving her a “walleye” look that we can make fun of:
Here are some caricatures from some of my sketches where the eyes are a central part of the exaggeration or personality of the subject. Drawing eyes that really look back at the viewer can make for a startling effect. Remember the exaggeration of the caricature involves all the features and their relationships. The eyes may not be as important in
another caricature, but as they are one of the chief agents of human communication and expression, they are always of import.
Next time: Noses!