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How to Caricature Difficult Faces with Opposition Sketching

September 28, 20170 Comments

Assignment

If you’re following along at home, your assignment is to pair up two celebrities – one who you think is hard to draw, and one who seems easier. Or maybe, both of them could have average difficult faces. And then, caricature them side by side, playing off their opposing features. It doesn’t really matter who they are. They can be different genders, races or ages. But try to make sure both heads are facing the same direction and that their expressions are similar. It will make it easier to see where the differences are. Post your drawings and photo references to the Caricature – Proko Facebook group for a chance to be included in a future critique video.

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Solving Average Faces

The more that you practice this art form, you’ll discover that some people are harder to caricature than others. In my opinion, it’s because those people are closer to the average, making it difficult to find traits to exaggerate.

As we learned in part one of this course, the guiding principle of caricature is to figure out how your subject differs from the average proportions and then exaggerate those differences. But what do we do when someone’s face is really close to the average? Then the diagram doesn’t seem as helpful.

Plus, if you’re just referring to your memory of the diagram, it can be kind of hard to make specific exaggeration choices with subjects with average faces.


The best technique I’ve found to get around this problem is to use another actual person as the basis of comparison, rather than the average diagram. When you use a second person to base your exaggeration decisions off of, the differences can be really obvious, and you’ll get stronger cues for what to exaggerate on your subject. And what’s better than just using the other person as reference is actually drawing them next to your main subject, at the same time. In this way, you’re constantly analyzing the opposing contrasts between the two people to make your exaggeration decisions. You’re exaggerating one person off the other and finding ways to exaggerate traits you may not have noticed otherwise.

A lot of the people we consider to be good-looking tend to be closer to the average. So let’s take a look at an average handsome celebrity and see what distinctive traits I notice.

I’ve always had trouble caricaturing actor George Clooney. For me, it’s not immediately obvious which is the best way to exaggerate. Is his head long and thin or is it short and wide. Does he have a big chin or a small chin? And so on.

There are some differences from average that I notice, like his eyes are narrower, with pronounced bags under them and his lips are thinner. But that’s about it. Everything else seems fairly close to the average. So, to get some inspiration, let’s put up a photo next to him of someone with a very different type of face, but a similar angle and expression: Comedian Bill Maher.

The first thing I notice now is how different their head shapes are. Overall, Bill has a short round face while George’s is longer and more rectangular. Bill has fatter cheeks, a shorter chin and his jawline blends with his neck while George has a longer square chin with a round fat pad on the front with a clearly defined and chiseled jawline. Also, Bill’s forehead is taller than George’s. George’s eyebrows are much thicker, darker and wider than Bill’s. George’s nose is smaller and narrower than Bill’s relative to each man’s face. George’s philtrum is longer, his mouth is wider and his eyes appear larger on his face than Bill’s eyes appear on his face.



You can make a written checklist of the differences before you draw if you like, or you can just try to visually compare them as you draw. The most important goal here is to be sure you are playing the two subjects off of one another. Try to find how they contrast each other and then amplify those contrasts. This technique of sketching two people side by side can even lead to funnier exaggeration choices than you might have made if drawing them individually. But more importantly, it can help you figure out how to caricature faces closer to the average, like Mr. Clooney’s.

Bill Maher and George Clooney Caricatures

And you can do this opposition drawing technique even if you only need to actually draw one of those people for your assignment or job. You don’t have to tell anyone you drew Bill Maher along with your George Clooney caricature. As long as you get a successful Clooney caricature, it’s a success. Plus, now you also have a bonus caricature you can do something with later on.

Premium Content

In the premium section of this course, you’ll find lots more examples of me doing double caricatures. I’ll explain my process in detail and talk about why I’m making my decisions. Also for premium students, is a longer version of this lesson where I go over one more simple technique for working with difficult faces.

What’s Next

In our next lesson, we’ll learn yet another fun technique for creating unique exaggerations. We’ll find the subject’s spirit animal and let it guide us in the drawing. I know, it sounds a little wacky. But this is caricature. We’re allowed to be a little wacky in our methods.

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Assignment

If you’re following along at home, your assignment is to pair up two celebrities – one who you think is hard to draw, and one who seems easier. Or maybe, both of them could have average difficult faces. And then, caricature them side by side, playing off their opposing features. It doesn’t really matter who they are. They can be different genders, races or ages. But try to make sure both heads are facing the same direction and that their expressions are similar. It will make it easier to see where the differences are. Post your drawings and photo references to the Caricature – Proko Facebook group for a chance to be included in a future critique video.

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