Political Caricature: Senator Harry Reid


Political Caricature:
A step-by-step photo-intensive drawing "how to" of Senator Harry Reid

Caricature and Drawing Newsletter for March / April, 2006
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Once and for all getting you drawing faces and caricatures:
March / April, 2006

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Your March / April 2006, YouCanDraw.com Communiqué



Howdy all,

Hope Spring has been spruingin' for ya'll -- and for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere (do you capitalize that?), I know Autumn has arrived and Summer is wrapping up. So just like the weather, I'm gonna whip right into the next caricature. Today's subject: Senator Harry Reid.


Here's a shot of my computer screen running Photoshop:


...And here's the one I've settled on to draw:


Without wasting even a second, let's dive in. It's just my preference but I almost always start with the eye on the left. I often try to force myself to do the other eye first - since I'm left handed and if reach across to do the other eye I second, I get a lot more accidental smudging. Anyway, here's what I'm focusing on:


Kind of hard to tell but in this first photo Mr. Harry's right eye, eye brow and nose lines are being sketched in. I find the deep tall lines that extend from the nose into the forehead as very notable for caricature. Note too how this rather grumpy picture of Mr. Reid forces his eyebrows right down on top of his eyelids:


Here we're reinforcing the lines around the first eye, darkening the shadows around the nasal lines that pass into the forehead; and we're beginning that one aspect of the nose there:


Speaking of the nose, note how his particular nose is rather long bridged that leads to an almost Santa Claus like bulbous tip (and believe me, I'm not making fun of that - I have one too..the bulbous nose deal :-) :


Oh and yes, can't forget about the glasses - and here's the thing you'll have to pay close attention to drawing his glasses: I think they're of the non-rimmed glass kind. And that makes for real close observation about highlight and shadow. Note how the shadows on the cheeks (from the glasses) are so much more noticeable than the actual edge of the lenses of the glasses (see above). And you can see how I rendered them below - along with starting to fill in the lines around the nose:

Also notice in the sketch above the shadow cast from the glasses right on to the lower lid of the eye. Squint and notice the minimal amount of highlight around the pupil - but how much the rhythm of light and shadows (represented by pencil lines) makes the area around that eye really jump out.

I've also fell into the practice the last year or so of layering lines to represent contour and shadow areas. It's starting to work for me (I'm stumbling on to my own style I guess - and entirely by accident and by experimentation. And this will happen for you too if you just keep working at it :-)

...but as you can tell, this isn't making Senator Reid any happier:


Ok, next photo. Filling in the other eye, adding the glasses to that side as well. Notice the shape of the shadow areas and notice how on the right side of the picture the shadows the make up the eye area are pretty much represented with the same kind of crosshatching. If you squint and look at the photo, you can collapse a lot of the detail and see how to simplify what looks pretty complicated. Also compare the size of the glasses in the real photo and in the caricature. Here's the photo again:


Here's the drawing:

Notice also in the sketch above the darkest area of pencil on the bottom of the nose (left side of the picture). Notice also the rhythm of light and dark. If you look at any photo or at the person right next to you, you very often see this pattern. Why? Because with the light coming form above the underside of the nose falls into shadow - but very often it catches the reflected light off the upper lip (actually the apron of the upper lip). And hence the light - dark - light - dark pattern. Capiche? Cool. You'll start seeing this all over the place.

...still not making Harry any happier:


Observe the lips and chin above. Note how the edges of the lip / line where the lips touch align with pupils. With the mouth apparently that small, and the upper lip on the narrow side, you can see the results of that interpretation below:

Also note above the diagonal line beneath the nose: it's the precursor to what will be the long shadow cast by the nose. (Keep at it until you find it.) Scroll up and see if you can't make out the shape of the shadow cast by the nose. Then scroll down below and see if you can't see how that nose shadow has progressed:

So what am I erasing here? It's the jowl. It's fun to make big saggy jowls where anyone might have a jowl but I felt I could make the lower part of the face appear narrower than it was heading by raising the the jowl some. (I did that too because the overall shape of the head is like that of an egg - just big side up.) Moral of story: don't be afraid to make mistakes! But don't try to make it perfect. If you're erasing until the paper is getting torn, you're getting too serious! Take a break. Go for a walk. You will get this :-)

Next photo: adding the glass arm or temple or whatever the heck you call it and adding to the cheek on the right. I'm not going to point that out because I'm leaving it up to you as an exercise to sleuth out the addition. Scroll up and down till you find it:


...filling in the jowl on the bottom right side of the picture - don't go to the next photo until you find it :-) Do you see the asymmetry of the chin? Compare it to the center of the nose - draw an imaginary line from nose to the chin. See the inequity? That's a part of all faces...even if I invented it. There it be:


Refresher: look at the original picture:


Only progress here is the addition of the shadow under the eye and cheekbone on the right side of the picture and the more shadowing on the nose. Again, scroll up and down till you find it:


Hey! That's coming along:


Reference to original for your viewing pleasure:


So check out those ears. Big small? How would you draw them? Which one resides in more shadow? Here's my version:


Here's a sleuth question for you. Can you see what's different between the sketch above and this next one below? I'll tell you in a second. Hint: look at the shadow under the nose - under the nose, and on the cheek - both on the right as you look at the picture:

Answer: See the extra set of almost vertical hashes on the apron of the upper lip? And the extra hashes on the cheek? Keep looking. By the way I don't know why the picture got orange all of a sudden. Acid in that paper? Happened awful quick. That's what ya get for drawing on cheap water color paper :-) (Actually I really enjoy drawing on the very affordable Strathmore 140 pound cold press water color paper. Hear that Strathmore people?)

Observing out subject again:


What do you see different here:


See the enforcing of shadow areas? Horizontal lines drawn over the ear and eye on the right side of the drawing; deepening of those nose lines that run off in to the forehead:


Ok, Back to good ol B & W. Here we're actually beginning on final touches: like the subtle shadows on the forehead:


Put your attention on the hair. See any directions or divisions of the hair you simplify or abstract so you don't have to draw every danged hair?


...More forehead below. More shadows. Filling in the hair on the left. Hair is always at it's darkest right where it pops out of / transitions from face to hair:


Jumping down to the necktie and suit coat here:


You have to look close now. I've lightly sketched in the overall shape of the hair as well as some subtle "locks" within the overall hair shape:


Here's a close-up of the hair and a few individual hairs No need to draw them all:




Pretty much done:


Hmm. Thinking the shadow side of the the face was too light, I added a few more shadows:

Doe! Doesn't seem to help that much and the detail around the eye on the right side of the drawing starts getting lost. Can't hit "control" -" z" with the real drawing. Oh well. I'm pretty satisfied with how this turned out. AND very lastly....

...here's Harry doing what politicians do best: pose with some of the really cute neighborhood kids - and that still doesn't make him happy! Shees. Well actually he is starting to smile a little::

Look how that shadow works under Harry's nose! I'm very pleased


And talk about sturdy! That's snow you see all over the place in the background and it's only 42 degrees on this day.


Your Homework:

May challenge to you: be as fearless as these two and commit to 30 minutes a day, five days for one week. Just get your materials gathered on the first day and do a little drawing in the time left in those next 30 minutes. Then on the second through fourth days, do all thirty minutes of drawing. Go for it! Then spend one hour drawing anything that grabs your eye outside this coming weekend.

Here's a link to the previous John Bolton caricature:


And if you're just gettnig here, check out all the Karl Rove political caricature lessons - we go into depthe in a dioffernt way: http://www.drawing-faces-and-caricatures-made-easy.com/drawing-karl-rove.html

Keep on drawing!




Kasbohm & Company's


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