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January 27, 2012

Digital Superhero Caricature vs Hand Painted Caricature pt2

Filed under: Articles,caricatures — Charlie Anson @ 9:29 am

So last month, the director of a company with which I used to share an office came up to me and asked if we did custom vector caricatures. What? Us? The hand-made caricature company par excellence? Of course not – we make professional caricatures in the traditional way, I thought. None of this new-fangled stuff. Then I thought again. If sporting art websites create a superhero caricature on demand, then surely I can be just as flexible? “We’ll give it a go!” I said, and so we set about doing our first ever batch of custom vector caricatures.

The aim was to depict a company team as simple vector characters. And the technique: To start with a straight draft, as usual. Then, to simplify the draft and scan it. And finally, we would draw custom vector caricatures on top of the draft scan, on Illustrator. And Bob’s your uncle!

Of course, I’m pretty good on Photoshop but when it comes to Illustrator I know nothing. Thankfully one of our cartoonists, Vincent Bouriot, is King of custom vector caricatures. Vector Vince, as he’s now known in the company. He’s the one guy I know who can produce professional caricatures in a digital format that are ultra simple, but completely uncanny. Like he can distill the likeness of a person into a few vector lines, in the same way that websites create a superhero caricature from nothing but a name, a photo and a chosen colour.

Professional caricatures in a vector format are actually pretty rare. On one hand you have the masters who usually work in a hand-made medium, and on the other you have not people but programs: digital processing systems that turn photos into custom vector caricatures. But these can be a fine art too. Julian Opie, for instance, will distil a look into a couple of black dots, showing that custom vector caricatures are as valid an art form as any other.

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