How to Draw Caricatures

Slides from a presentation on how to draw caricatures by Allan Cavanagh
Learn to draw caricatures with these slides from the talk I gave on caricatures at the Hay Festival in Kells in June 2016. I thought they might be useful to budding artists. For a more in-depth study of the subject, I highly recommend The Mad Art of Caricature by Tom Richmond of MAD Magazine (also available as digital download here.) I have this myself and it’s invaluable.

Imagine The Head as Playdough

As you can see in the first slide above, the human head is basically an upside down egg shape. Let this be your starting point. You now need to decide the most prominent shape in your subject’s head, and exaggerate it. Have fun with it, have as many goes as you need. Drawing is fun! If you picture that upside down egg as a piece of Playdough it’s helpful. As you stretch Playdough it thins out. If you’re exaggerating the shape of the head, and adding on somewhere, there should be less mass elsewhere. Again, Tom’s book is brilliant on this concept.
Slides from a presentation on how to draw caricatures by Allan Cavanagh

Decide on Dominant Features

Does the person have big eyes, a strong jawline, a high forehead? This is what you’re going to exaggerate now. You want to pick the features that jump most out at you and work with them. Keep practicing, you’re getting good! Remember the law of constant mass though: as you inflate one feature you must deflate another. Trial and error will get you there.

Slides from a presentation on how to draw caricatures by Allan Cavanagh

Draw Caricatures Live

Over the years I’ve gotten drawing live caricatures down to about 3 minutes per face, but I’ve had quite a few years not doing anything else! If you’ve a casual interest in drawing caricatures doing it live can be a great party piece, although you might not get a moment’s peace! I have something of a formula you can see above. Get friends and family to sit for you and take as many goes as you like. Drawing is like a muscle, it takes time and effort to get it in shape, and more to keep it there, but we all have some drawing ability so allow yourself the patience to get good. You can draw caricatures. If you’ve any questions leave a comment below!

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