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Drawing portraits with more character

When drawing (or painting), the toughest part is capturing a persons personality. A face can be a huge part of creating an emotional connection in your art.  You can make or break the believability of the moment with a glint in the eye or a smirk in the lips.

I was reading the tutorials on the blog of MAD Magazine caricaturist Tom Richmond. Sure, he has a great anatomy tutorial on understanding hands that’s a must read. The tutorials on inking and digital coloring are amazing.  It’s his bread and butter, however, when he gets into the details of the face. 

Making a successful caricatures takes a pretty good understanding of the facial features. You have to capture a likeness. You have to manipulate them into an expressive statement.  From the blog:

“I would say there are three essential elements that transcend style and medium and must be present in a caricature:

Likeness- If you can’t tell who it is supposed to be, then it is not successful. All good caricatures incorporate a good likeness of their subjects.

Exaggeration- Without some form of exaggeration, or a departure from the exact representation of the subject’s features, all you have is a portrait. The level of exaggeration can vary wildly, but there must be some departure. A straight portrait is not a caricature.

Statement- I believe a caricature must editorialize in some way. The artist must be trying to say something about the subject. It might be something to do with the situation the subject is drawn in, it may just be a play on their personality through expression or body language, it might be a simple as making visual fun of some aspect of their persona or image.”

While you may not want to be a caricature artist, learning how to play with caricature can bring a lot into your facial drawing. Finding somewhere between photorealism and caricature might be the thing that takes your art to the next level. What do you think?

Tutorials on Tom’s MAD Blog (tomrichmond.com)

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

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Brian E. Young

I'm a graphic designer (portfolio), classical pianist and artist in Baltimore, MD. I host the Uncanny Creativity Podcast helping to demystify the creative process and creator of Funlooksfun.com, an online shop for apparel and games. Twitter: @sketchee

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