As a student of art, you can explore everything from watercolors to sculpting to photography and more! If you’re interested in learning how to draw caricatures (and how to improve your overall creative skills), take a look at these pointers and FAQs from full-time artist Mike V., who teaches in Bridgeport, CT:
1) What are the steps for drawing caricatures? How does it differ from other types of drawing?
The first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with human anatomy, especially facial anatomy. I usually start my students out drawing the skull in front view, 3/4 view, and profile. You’ll need to learn to draw the human face realistically first, in order to then exaggerate facial features. Once you are familiar with facial construction, then you’ll practice drawing both male and female heads at different ages.
The way to then turn the realistic interpretation into a caricature is by first using observation. Study how large the eyes are, compared to other features. Everybody is different. The things to look for are shape, size, distance between the eyes, and color. Even if you are working in black and white, you should study if that person has light or dark eyes; for instance, light blue, green, or grey would be represented in black and white renderings as having the iris just shaded, and not darkened in. The pupils will show more. Dark eyes in black and white drawings are done by coloring in the iris, as the pupil does not show nearly as clearly. Other things to consider are the shape and direction of eyelids, as well as length of eyelashes.
Next, compare the features to one another. Again, everyone is different. If the eyes are prominent, draw them larger. If the nose is on the smaller side, then play it down, or draw it smaller. The same for the lips, ears, forehead, etc. The outer shape of the face is very important. Also the shape and texture of the hair.
DO NOT fall into the misguided ideas that the average person has about how to draw caricatures! This is very important! I have heard: “All you have to capture is the eyes” or “All you have to do is make the nose big,” for example. These individuals have NO idea what they are talking about. A good caricature plays UP the prominent features, and plays DOWN the non-prominent features. It is a balance between the two, in order to achieve a good likeness.
2. What kind of jobs can you get as a caricaturist, and how do you find these jobs?
The popularity and entertainment value of caricature is growing. Over the years caricaturists have been hired to work at private and corporate parties and many other events. The types of events where caricaturists are normally hired are: college events, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, store/mall promotions, high school proms/post proms, graduation parties, holiday parties, communion parties, and many other types of events. Also, there are full-time and seasonal jobs for caricaturists, for both professionals and students. These jobs are normally found at theme parks. This is an excellent way to gain experience. There are also opportunities working at fairs and carnivals. The fair jobs sometimes ask for a fee to set up, and you would work retail, charging by the person. The theme park concession companies often have the artists work on commission. At events such as parties, the artists are paid by the hour, just like other party entertainment.
My best career advice is don’t rush into the field. Get your training in how to draw caricatures first. Then apply for a theme park job or other public venue, where you will be constantly drawing people from life, and start to develop your skills. Private art lessons are great, because one-on-one attention from the instructor is the best way to learn. Also, very important to note: Caricatures are published in a wide variety of magazines and other publications, so follow the artwork of an artist that you admire. Get inspiration from accomplished professionals whose work you really like, and keep a collection of samples of their work.
How do you tell if you have artistic skill? First, start drawing. Practice constantly. Compare your work to other artists’ work. If you meet a professional artist, ask them to take a look at your work and ask for an evaluation. I have been teaching for many years and I often have to evaluate students’ work at the first lesson. There have been many students that I see that do have the potential, and with my instruction and hard work, they have greatly improved. Many have gone on to art careers. Also, you are never too old to learn. I teach ALL ages, from young children to seniors. Many have become accomplished. Hard work and the right attitude are key.
4) What will I learn in one-on-one art lessons? How do they differ from taking classes with a group?
One-on-one lessons give you a unique advantage. I draw detailed demonstrations that you can watch me draw close-up. You can also keep each sketch I do, which is not the case with group lessons. More time is given to the individual to observe a professional at work. Seeing the finished product, then observing me working and having the student draw along with me is a unique opportunity to learn.
With 38 years of experience, Mike V. teaches private lessons in cartooning, drawing , watercolor, acrylic, and oil painting. He worked as a caricaturist at two of the Disney theme parks. He has also created numerous syndicated comic strips and comic books, and has drawn for DC comics. Learn more about Mike here!