Posts Tagged ‘Caricature’

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Special Features

November 30, 2018

I am crazy lucky that I just happen to be married to my favorite person to draw. And although one might assume that any artist’s favorite person to draw would be their spouse — because they love them so much or whatever — that’s not really true.

(Although I do love him so much or whatever.)

Richard would be my favorite even if I was married to someone else. He just has a really fun face. And he’s actually a life drawing model, so there are lots of artists and teachers around town that agree with me.

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There are some types of faces that I find tough to draw. This has nothing to do with their level of attractiveness. I know tons of people that are super good-looking, but whose likeness I just can’t seem to recreate on the page.

The people I find the most challenging to draw are kids. I think this has something to do with the lack of special features: the things on your face OTHER than eyes, nose, and mouth. This could be things that are actually part of the face such as wrinkles, moles, facial hair and scars. Or it could be add ons, like glasses, braces, nose/lip/eyebrow ring, a cigarette, or a monocle.

(Sadly, I don’t get nearly enough opportunities to draw people with a monocle.)

Richard has a lot of special features. He usually has facial hair. He often wears glasses. He has 3 tiny moles that form a triangle on the upper left side of his face. He has another mole on his right cheek. He has a very distinct nose, and these mischievous eyebrows that sometimes make him look like an evil magician.

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All that extra stuff helps break up the face, which makes it easier to translate a 3 dimensional human onto a 2 dimensional plane. I can get the size, shape, and angle of something more accurate by looking at it in relation to something else.

For example, whenever I do someone from a 3/4 angle I almost always draw their face too narrow the first time around, and I end up having to erase and adjust. I never seem to put enough distance between their nose and their ear. That’s because there usually isn’t much there. Cheeks are kinda like the desert of the face. Just a big open space with not much happening, which makes it hard to determine where things land.

In the drawing below I was able to use Richard’s glasses to figure out the distance between his eyes, nose and ear. And even though my style is way more caricature than realistic, the same rules still apply. Your baseline is still reality, you just choose which things to exaggerate and which things to simplify or exclude.

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In addition to the special features on his face, Richard is also a big fan of accessories. He loves watches, rings, wristbands, buttons, all kinds of hats, and fun T-shirts. He also likes to change up his look regularly. He’ll shave his head in different ways, reshape his goatee, paint his nails, or put on a tie and jacket for literally no reason.

All of this stuff makes a person more fun and interesting to draw. When I am out in the world trying to discreetly draw strangers, details like these will inform the story that I make up about the person in my head.

I did all of these drawings with pen and colored pencil. One of the challenges with using colored pencils is that because of the nature of the medium, a lot of paper shows through, even with with layering, so the drawing comes out looking kinda dull and muted.

The way to fix this is by blending. There are several methods you can use to blend. My favorite way lately is to use a Prismacolor colorless blender MARKER. This is basically the same as using rubbing alcohol solvent, but it’s contained in a handy dandy marker.

Afterwards I use a white gel pen to add some highlights. (Not too much!)

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One cool thing about being married to a life drawing model is that he is used to being stared at AND he’s great at sitting still. So whenever we go out to dinner he lets me sketch him while we’re waiting for our food. It’s way better than staring at our stupid phones.

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How I Became an Alcoholic

September 29, 2018

I have been drawing my whole life, but I’ve never been very comfortable using color, so I avoided it and secretly felt some shame that I was supposedly an artist but couldn’t paint.

In the rare instances when I did use color, I usually went with colored pencil or water-based Tombow markers. I enjoy working in both of those mediums, but I’ve never been totally satisfied with the results. The markers don’t blend well, and I can’t get much vibrance out of colored pencils.

Then one day last year I bought a small set of alcohol-based markers. I wasn’t really paying attention and kinda bought them by accident. To be honest I didn’t know the difference between alcohol and water-based markers. But I used those markers to make some photo-booth props for a party I was helping to plan, and I was thrilled with the results. They blended so well, and the colors really popped.

Photobooth mouths

I had long been toying with the idea of doing big head caricatures of old master portraits, and these rad new markers seemed like the perfect medium.

Right around that same time the Phoenix Art Museum opened a new exhibition called the Schorr Collection which had a bunch of old master portraits. So I did some pencil sketches of a portrait on location at the museum, and then went home, very excited to complete it in ink and color.

My set of alcohol markers only had six colors, so I attempted to add in some of my Tombow markers in order to have a wider palette. And that’s when I learned that water-based markers and alcohol markers do not mix…

 

My first attempt at an old master caricature was a total bust.

I returned to the store with the intention of buying four or five more colors to add to the mix, but ended up buying eighteen!

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Then I went back to the museum, did more sketches of portraits, brought them home and markered the s#¿+ out of them.

 

I was really pleased with how some of them turned out.

 

Others not so much.

 

But I watched some tutorials online and learned some tricks on how to use alcohol markers.

 

It was by far the most success I’d ever had using color. Whenever I completed one I  felt excited to do another.

 

I lost my photos of the original portraits on these two. 😦

 

After I’d done a bunch of these things I decided to take another shot at that first Lorenzo Lotto portrait using my newly acquired skills. Here are some WIP pics…

 

I was much happier with the result this time around.

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And when comparing it to my first attempt I could really see the progress that I had made. It felt good. This was the biggest leap forward I had taken with my art in years. All because of alcohol markers.

I hate to admit that I had to buy myself some new toys in order to become a better artist, but that is kinda what happened.

Here’s a before and after to show how much difference a few weeks of practice (and 18 more markers) can make. 🙂

 

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Persistence of Pikachu

July 24, 2016

So I’ve been doing this new thing lately where I sketch some rando while I am out and about. I make their heads big and distort their features, so by the time I’m done, it doesn’t really look like them, but whatever.

Usually this happens at Space 55 (a totally cool little black box theatre in downtown Phoenix that I help operate) because it’s a good place to find someone who is sitting relatively still. Generally it’s an audience member or a performer. Lately they’ve all been guys, but that’s been situational, not intentional.

I just do the initial pencil sketch at first. I don’t spend time on inking or coloring because I want to sketch as many different people as I can while I am out in the world.

Then later, at home or wherever, I will go over it with pen and add more detail.

Then I leave it alone for a while and just let it roll around in my subconsciousness.

After a few days I will add a background and colors and try to turn it into what someone who doesn’t draw would call “finished”. The background may or may not have anything to do with the person. It might have more to do with stuff I’ve been thinking about, things I’ve been interested in or learned about recently.

Or I might start with something I know about the person, which is often very little because usually it’s a stranger, and then use that detail as a jumping off point to get the ideas going. I try not to be too deep about it. I’m not into putting hidden meanings into my stuff, I just try to hit upon an idea that is interesting to me that I would be excited to work on.

Here’s one that I did recently.

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I did the original sketch a couple weeks ago. This fellow came to see a show at Space 55 and arrived early. After he bought his ticket I told him the house wasn’t open yet but that he was welcome to hang out in the lobby. He said that he would go outside and look for Pokemon until the show started. This was a day or two after PokemonGo came out and it was just starting to blow up.

Side note: I don’t play Pokemon, but I am totally PRO-kemon. As with anything that becomes super popular, there’s a mob of people jumping up to say that it’s nerdy, that it’s a waste of time, and to point out all the negative stories associated with it. And in the case of the negative stories, there are things we should definitely be aware of. Obviously you shouldn’t play it while driving, or go into dangerous places alone, or sacred spaces, or private property, and all that other stuff that should be common sense.

But I’ve also seen how it brings people together. People are going outside and getting exercise, and making new friends, and exploring their neighborhoods, and I think that’s great. I wish the positive stories were getting a little more attention.

One super cool thing that I have seen over and over is parents and kids playing it together and becoming closer because of it. When I was a kid my parents did not play video games with me. (My grandma did, but she is exceptionally cool.)

Okay, end of side note. Back to drawing. 

So later that night, during the show, I spotted the Pokemon guy in the audience. It was really hot that night, and the poor guy was clearly suffering. That’s when I did the sketch of him, complete with sweat drops.

Then I let a part of my brain chew on it for a while. I thought about Pokemon. I thought about how hot it was. I thought about how fucking hot it is in Phoenix and how the summer drags on and on and feels so goddamn endless and depressing. And then I thought about that painting Persistence of Memory by Dali, which always reminds me of the the Arizona desert, and the bleakness of Phoenix in the summer.

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And that’s how I wound up with a Dali-inspired background, with melted Pokeballs instead of clocks, and a distorted Pikachu instead of whatever the hell that creature is in the Dali painting. I also went for a Monument Valley-esque landscape in the distance to make it more specifically AZ.

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So there you have it: Persistence of Pikachu.

Wherever that guy is, I hope he’s recovered from that night, and reached at least level 20.