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Caricature and Drawing Newsletter for December, 2006
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Once and for all getting you drawing faces and caricatures:

December 2006

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Your December 2006 Communiqué



Howdy all!

I know you're all busy with the holidays, so we'll get right to it today: picking up the pace in a semi gig-like practice test run. What's that mean? Well today it means revisiting the Japanese Prime Minister one more time. Since we're familiar - at least a little bit - with what makes him caricaturable, it's time to apply the "heightening" concept or at least try drawing him in a variety of ways. AND, not worrying about making the pictures look the same. Which really is easier than it sounds - and more liberating. And drawing him in a timed setting - and drawing as many pictures as you can of him in 20 minutes so you can get right back to your Christmas shopping :-)

My goal today: Twenty minutes to draw as many pictures as I can in ink on newsprint. I'll predict I can do about 3 pictures - I'm out of speed practice plus you're probably all getting sick of seeing the Prime Minister of Japan again :-)

Drawing in a timed fashion forces you to get going and forget about getting everything perfect. This is as true in those life drawing sessions as it is in a paid party situation. Let that little bit of added pressure push you past and into a completely new comfort zone. Watch me do this then you try it! You'll be amazed how good you feel if you try this and by how much less guilty you'll feel about shirking your commitment to drawing...if you've been shirking it, which of course I know you haven't. :-)

Dive on in

Let's dive on in. Got my trusty Flex Grip pen - a very attractive hue of blue. I got my Strathmore Newsprint paper pad. Timer is set for 20 minutes. I have Photoshop open and on my computer screen I see something like this:


So I have the original photo of the Prime Minister and I have a caricature right there in front of me. Like we talked about last ezine, today's exercise we'll keep that idea of heightening in mind (see last ezine if you don't get "heightening"). Here we go.


First thing is draw a rough format. The format in this case is the roughly rectangular bounding shape I'm going to draw the caricature inside of. It's a guide. If I go outside the lines, fine and dandy. No biggee. I'll start in the bottom third center of the paper because having drawn this guy twice before I know I'm going to be piling on the hair. Timer is ticking...


As usual I start with the eye on the left (the PM's right eye - i.e. if you're the PM), move across to the other eye, then down the nose, then down to the philtrum (the little groove between your nose and your upper lip) then down to the lips and mouth. I'm staying in that contour drawing style (see the previous two ezines - Oct / Nov and Aug / Sept - to see more links for contour drawing). Getting back to contour drawing has really added a spark to my drawing enthusiasm these last couple of months - it really promotes observation. It's the mother of all great drawing. Tick, tock... step: leaping out with the jaw line. I made a little squiggle that represents the shadow under the lower lip and tried to keep my pen on the paper when moving from one section to the other. Which I don't always do 100 % of the time when I stop to take pictures of the progress...see that here: step below: well I made a huge leap. Under the gun here. Clock ticking. Actually I just got into the drawing and forgot to take photos. Sorry. Alzheimer's. Early onset...

As you can see though, much has happened: I moved up the cheek on the left side of the paper, returned down under the chin, up the left side, made a couple semi-slow motion return trips on the jaw line. If you look close you can see the double and triple lines on that jaw line. All those lines fold over on themselves the way a string lays down and loops on itself in a heap on the floor - like when you hold a length in your fingertips and lower it into a spontaneous design.

You can see on the left side of the page (in the picture just above) where the ink line leaps back from the cheekbone to redraw some of the lines around the mouth (actually from along side the nose down to the corners of the mouth - in fact I'm seeing an upside down wine glass right in the middle of the Mr. Prime Min's face. Do you see it?)

From the mouth I moved back up along the base of the nose, along it's sides up to the eyes, thus adding width to the nose. Go back and forth between the two above pictures and notice the change in the lines representing the nose - see how it's shaping up?

The eyes and eyebrows were sort of outlined by circles and the brows were thickened up. From the eye brows I leapt down to the neck, the sport coat, tie, and hand (about 5 minutes have elapsed by now - slow start).

If you look close the vast majority of lines that make up this picture so far, all are built out of one long line. I think I actually kept my pen on the paper almost the entire time (except where I stopped to take a photo - but I set the tip of the pen right back down on the end of the line I stopped at...just lke that string deal...).

Next photo

OK - Hair! We're about seven to eight minutes in. I'd better hurry up!

Let's compare this picture so far (which is only about 4 and 1/2 inches tall) to the first caricature (about 16 inches tall):


Scroll back and forth between those two. What differences do you see in terms of the shape of the jaw line, features, eyes, hair, etc.? Don't judge the two on 3-dimensional depth - the original caricature took a lot longer to draw. The hatching-in of the shadow shapes is the major difference. Guaranteed, if I slowed down enough to hatch in all the shapes on the today's mini-drawing it too would look much more authentic. DO look at the lines and edges that outline the shadows and compare them and see if you can't see how similar the main lines really are. Also remember, we're drawing in "Gig Time" today: going for speed and accuracy.


Next picture:

In the picture I have to ask myself if I'm drawing more stereotypical eyes - but maybe these look more like the real prime minister too ! I see an upsweep of the lower edge of the lower eye lids. So that's accuracy, not stereotyping.



Compare to the original Prime Minister photo:

Compared to Western eyes Asian eyes do seem - and are - narrower and more upswept - even if they aren't upswept above horizontal. Western eyes are also have less skin and eye lid tissue and so appear deeper set. It's all relative :-) Compare the lower lids here of Ted Koppel:


For the really big picture of Ted click here (yes, you'll need your password). And on closer observation all I can really say is Ted's lower eyelids are just rounder and it's the over hang of the upper eyelids that cause the drooping corner look. Does that make sense? Compare and contrast the eyes on Ted with the Prime Ministers until you convince yourself of what makes them different. Onward!


Finished drawing number two:


No, he's not giving us the bird there. Though it might look that way...and it would be kind of funny if he was. Ahhh. Nothing like the holiday spirit. If you squint he really does look like he's not enjoying this drawing session. But if you're offended - and for the record - he's not - but here the second picture is done and we're about 13 minutes in on clock time. I did this second one much faster. Like in about 4 and 1/2 minutes. That's an average of of just over 6 minutes a picture. Right in the pocket for gigs and hey, I haven't done timed drawings for YEARS! And I'm having a blast. :-)


Compare and Contrast

Compare and contrast one feature at a time: hair, eyes, nose, length of the nose, distance between nose and lip (in which picture is this distance large - nose to lip?) Look at shape of jaw line, angle of the line that represents the lower edge of the jaw - which is steeper compared to horizontal? To vertical? What other comparisons and contrasts can you make? Do they look like the same person even with all these differences?

OK, starting the third picture. We're thirteen minutes in. I just looked at the clock and we got a relaxing 7 minutes to do the final drawing (remember I'm trying to do at least 3 drawing in a 20 minute timed session. Here we go...


Kind of looks a lot like the last two...working a lot smaller than I normally do. At a gig I use 12 by 15 inch paper and the size of the actual head of my gig-drawn faces are about 7 -12 inches tall - if I draw a body underneath it. Average size of a head/face-only drawing: 9 to 10 inches. (Again the body - which might just be shoulders - drawn as a pose is drawn in the space left over...Cruising along:

It seems almost like cheating to do the same face over and over - and it is in a way - but it helps you to start building patterns in your brain (like starting in the same place on each drawing - me, I like starting with eyes, then nose, mouth then face shape and hair last). You also start building your own stock features. What are stock features? They're categories of lips, eyes, teeth, all the individual features - you start seeing after you've drawn a lot.

Drawing #3: off to the eyes and eyebrows below:


Finishing up the other cheek bone...clock time is really getting short - compare these two pictures a feature at a time. Convince yourself what's similar, what's different....


One minute to go! Here's a close-up of this third drawing:


Getting on with the hair...



Buzzer just went off. Not finished but I can see in my brain what I want to draw. Am I gonna stop just because the buzzer went off? Would you do that at a gig? Heck no! (But you do have to draw a line about when to stop...let's keep marching....and yes I know I just unintentionally used a stupid pun there...


Whip that hair down! Scribble in some shadows. Deal or no deal? Deal! Smack the red button and done in 8 minutes on this third sketch. That's 21 minutes for all three. Not bad!

I'm cracking up looking at how that hand turned out.


Look below for all three drawings side by side. Do the feature-by-feature contrast / comparison between the three until you convince yourself how fairly divergent representations of the same person can still be recognizable. And review this caricature page - see the five skills of caricature. Yes, they're different (more specific and focused) than the five skills of drawing. Again click here for that. The link takes you to the top of a HUGE page. (It's all in your source book too. Don't have that? You can get one here:



Compare to the original photo:


OK! That's it for this month. Have a great Chanukah / Kwansa / Christmas / and belated Ramadan!

Dive back in and don't be afraid! :-)





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