If you’ve been to a street fair or amusement park lately, you may have seen a caricature artist in action. People stop to have their comic portraits drawn in a cartoon style, often with very large heads and tiny bodies doing something funny. If you’d like to learn how to draw these types of drawings, the book, Face Off: How to Draw Amazing Caricatures and Comic Portraits, by Harry Hamernik, can help.
Most books on how to draw caricatures are from famous artists who have done many celebrity portraits in the past. Artists like Dick Gautier and Lenn Redman are two of the better known ones. But their styles are a little dated, and you might be looking for something more applicable to modern style.
The book starts by discussing materials and supplies you will need, including pencils, paper, markers and color pencils. I like the instructions for a do-it-yourself lap easel, which can be made cheaply if you have very basic handy construction skills.
It then covers marker, pencil, and colored pencil techniques. These include how to not get fuzzy lines, varying your lines, working with value, and color blending. Then he shows how to color a portrait using pencils and even some computer coloring techniques.
He presents a specific process for drawing a portrait and encourages you to draw ten faces every day for twenty days in a row before trying to sketch someone. You need to know how to do the process of a caricature first, without getting stuck, before you can then add the difficulty of trying to make it look like someone.
The next section covers how to draw specific features. He gives several sample face shapes and examples of noses, eyes, hair, etc. There are multiple helpful hints and tips scattered throughout, such as this one about eyes: “A larger iris will make your subject look younger. Think Bambi.”
He also discusses and explains distance, anchor, and pivot points. These are key when drawing portraits, because the tiniest change in details can make your caricature look like the person or not. Drawing a likeness is extremely difficult.
The rest of the book contains two large sections, one for 3/4 view portraits, and one for profile views. These, like the section on face forward portraits, give lots of examples, tips, and tricks.
There is a great sampling of different facial types and a fair range of ages, although there are no older people at all. But there are some with glasses, a head bandana, jewelry, and facial hair, the sorts of things that can trip you up.
Overall, this is an excellent overview if you are wanting to learn how to draw in this style. Face Off: How to Draw Amazing Caricatures and Comic Portraits, by Harry Hamernik will get you started in the right direction.
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