Political Caricature: A photo-heavy documentation of John Bolton caricature drawing
Caricature and Drawing Newsletter for February, 2006
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Your February 2006, YouCanDraw.com Communiqué
hope you all enjoyed watching the Olympics as much as I did! It was inspiring. It was moving. And for the first time I enjoyed the figure skating. I must be getting older :-) And there was plenty to caricature! The "Tomato guy" on the snowboard, the "Bode Bust", the Hedrick / Davis feud - it was pure drama! So much so that I did no drawing for the entire affair. And it would be too hard to decide who to caricature anyway. So I took the easy way out: US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. He's someone I've been saving for a rainy day to draw. And once I got drawing, I got fired up and drew not one, not two, but three versions of him :-) So today you really get your money's worth.
The Tombo Pen
In fact, I applied something I picked up from painters today: the Tombo Pen. What's a "Tombo" pen ? It's a double-tipped water soluble marker. You draw your picture in an outline form then take a wet finger, or wash towel or a paint brush and go right back into the ink lines you've just drawn and smear the ink around a little. Works great for adding that shadowed look. Lots of painters use it for making a "value" drawing of a painting -- a mockup -- if you will, of a painting they're planning on painting to decide on where the darkest darks and highlights go. It's for planning. But it also works great for whipping up rapid fire shaded caricatures. You can see that below.
You'll also see below a whole bunch of photos of the second caricature I did of Mr. Bolton with minimal editorial comment from me. I'll just mention what I'm seeing and then it's up to you to find it in the drawing,. Yes, it might be a sign of laziness on my part but I think you might find it engages your artist's eye more too. So we both win: I don't have to write so much and you don't have to read so much. Win-win. Yehaa. :-) So let's dive on in...
Here's today's subject: Ambassador John Bolton:
Now here's a snapshot of my monitor in Photoshop -- Photoshop allows you to open as many pictures as your machine's memory will allow. Here's what mine looked like after I collected a couple dozen off the web. Having all sorts of pictures of your subjects will really make identifying the finer points of your subjects features possible:
Here's the finished first drawing of Mr. Bolton I did (it was the Tombo Pen version):
First Drawing / Tombo Pen caricature...a little sloppy :-)
Here's the second pencil drawing I did (which I documented as I drew):
And here's the third version of the ambassador - and arguably the best or minimally, the most exaggerated one:
Starting on on the second drawling
I'll repeat the photo of Mr. John here so you can get a fresh look at him:
In this first photo: starting with the hair. Give him BIG hair, hair that goes from here to the stratosphere and barrels right down on top of his eyes. At least, that's how I as a caricaturist am seeing it right now (by the way, that's not a stray number three there off to the top left, it's a stray Tombo pen mark that's going to follow us all through the series here):
Next pic: adding some filler lines on the hair. Hair has locks, and sections and bundles within it. Sometimes it's more interesting to add a little line detail where the edges of those bundles will be. Don't try to draw all the hair -- you'll never get done and it's not nearly as interesting as the rhythm of partially drawn hair is. I'm adding the hair section on the short side of the part here:
Next: expanding on the hair some more. I wasn't satisfied with the bulk:
...Referring back to the original for insight:
...Now adding the first eye (I try to start with the eye on the right so my left-handedness will do minimal smudging. What's interesting here is looking at the eye as the rim of the glasses cross through it. Don't try to draw just one eye. Note how in the original photo there's almost 2 colored parts of the eye (two corneas) - the refraction in the glasses gives partially repeated look. Don't let your thinking mind whine "but a person can only have one cornea or one pupil per eye". No, if you see two like there is in the photo, then embrace what your senses are telling you and draw two:
I'm going to shrink those glasses down too. More hair dang it! Look where that Tombo smudge is above and look where it shows up in this next photo:
Eyebrows: look at how the gray hair in the middle of the bushy eyebrows almost makes the eyebrows disappear. Don't be fooled. Also notice how close to the cornes the hair comes - adds a slightly angry look to him:
Starting on the "Malar fold" - also called the "naso-labial fold". Not sure what that is? Look it up in your sourcebook or check it out at an anatomy site. But, hint, it is being drawn right here :-) :
Take a second to refer back to the original photo:
Walrus mustache. It fairly obliterates the "naso-labial fold". What's important to note while drawing white hair is to get that hint of sections or bundles of hair -- in place of drawing each separate hair. Note too where the 'stache is darkest. Also note how the direction of the hairs changes as you travel from nose to chin. And speaking of the nose, can you see how it slowly expands all the way down to the very tip? And the nostrils are crowded together a little? :
Adding a lower lip. Adding teeth. Adding the dark of the mouth:
Refer to the original:
Working up the cheeks, the chin and the skin folds under the chin. Note the cross hatches: I've found that parallel lines work to suggest shadow and hidden reflected light within those shadows (look especially on the chin and around the cheekbones and dimples for this effect):
A close-up (sort of ) of the chin lower lip, and skin folds / neck, and adding horizontal hatches to convey the feeling of middle tone shadowing:
Stepping back a little to review what we've done so far:
Yes, can't forget the shirt, tie, and jacket:
Let's go after that right ear (his right ear, on the left in the picture however):
...But you know, I really don't know if that makes the drawing work...
...so I'll just erase it...and what about all that smudging there?...big deal...I'll just erase that later:
...I think I will however make that other ear bigger (his left, on the right as we look at the pictrure):
...Yes, but I will cover the rest of the face with a sheet of paper so I won't smudge the whole dang thing:
..Yea, I'm kind of liking that effect. It holds the hair up better:
Refer back to the original photo:
Adding detail, like the furrowed brow:
...And a few little hair spritzes...
And voila! Here's the finished sketch:
Synopsis: big hair, hair down to the eye (and could in fact be drawn over the eyes liie sheep dog), a relatively thin nose with buttoned on nostrils, big white walrus 'stache, lots of chin lines. And that's our Ambassador John Bolton :-)
Does it look my other John Bolton photos? ...
Yes, I think it does! Good job. And here's all three drawing as they sit on the same 18" x 24" sheet of cheap drug store bought watercolor paper:
If I have one assignment today it would be to experiment: experiment with the Tombo Pen, with different papers, with different pencils, and most important of all, experiment with different looks and different attempts at drawing and redrawing your subject! One is not enough. The more you experiment, the better you'll get and the less you'll feel trapped by having to do one "just right".
Dive in, don't be afraid, and keep on drawing!
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