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May 17, 2011

How to make the perfect caricature

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Charlie Anson @ 10:42 am

What’s the best way to create a great caricature? Well, you could have a go at it yourself. Most people have. In fact, the common perception is that drawing a caricature is far easier than drawing a straight portrait. All you have to do is give the guy big ears, a big nose, big eyes, exaggerate a trait here and there, and bingo! You have it. Something funny for all to laugh at. All of this might not seem to difficult at the outset.

However, a caricature is more than just a loose exaggeration of what we see. As anyone who’s tried to get a likeness of prince Charles just by drawing a big pair of ears will tell you. Getting that quite indefinable, uncanny “thing” is something that everyone can recognise, and very few can accomplish. So if you were after a really good caricature for a special occasion, choose your caricature well, and be prepared to be surprised. Subjective interpretations vary from person to person, but truly great caricature artists just have that knack of making a person instantly recogniseable to all.

And the greater the artist, the more a caricature can depart from photo-reality while not only retaining the essence of the person, but actually accentuating it. An artist like Gerald Scarfe will reduce a person to an axe, a ship, a feather, a monkey… and that caricature will be more “them” than they could ever be in a photo. Similarly, but in an entirely opposite stylistic direction, a pop artist such as Julian Opie will reduce a likeness to anly a a few traits, distill the character into a few dots and lines, retaining only the essence which makes that character entirely unique.

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