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The Final Sketch – How to Finish Your Caricature Drawing

March 9, 20173 Comments

Assignment

If you’re following along with these lessons, you’ll want to take your best abstraction sketch and trace over it to create your final caricature drawing. And then spend some time on it to add shading in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Post your finished drawings on the Proko: Art of Caricature Facebook group. And if you ask for a critique, I may pick your drawing to discuss in an upcoming video.

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Lesson 5: The Final Drawing

Now that you’ve worked your way through the first four steps to designing a caricature, it’s time to reap the fruit of all that hard work and create a nice finished drawing. This final drawing is the step that will probably take you the longest, because of the time it takes to do a nice rendering. But it should actually be the easiest step, because all of the hard work is already done.

And that’s the point to this whole process. We break down our tasks into separate steps, focusing on accomplishing a single goal at a time. And now is the part where it all comes together into a finished drawing. We can focus simply on making a nice drawing, confident that it will look like the subject and have a good funny exaggeration.

christopher walken thumbnail rough abstraction

The Process

For this step, we’re going to create a final line drawing by tracing over the abstraction. And then as I said in the first video, how you render your final caricature is entirely up to you. So you can finish it in graphite, charcoal or even use your favorite painting medium. For this demonstration, I’m going to finish it with graphite.

Christopher Walken Final Drawing

(Blackwing Pencil on Seth Cole Sketch Vellum)

To help me in this final drawing, I keep my photo reference and my rough sketch in view while I trace over the abstraction. Since I want to have a realistic and anatomically correct caricature, my main goal now is to add subtle curves and contours to the simple forms of the abstraction. But since I want this drawing to be an interesting work of art as well, I also consider the weight of my line and where I might want to use hard, soft or even lost edges. Good places to use soft or lost edges are where the values of two adjacent shapes are similar or when the object you’re drawing is diffuse and jagged, like the ends of the subject’s hair. To help me better see where the values blend together, I sometimes squint my eyes to blur the reference photo. Areas that are of similar value really will blend together on a reference photo when you blur it out.

At this stage of the drawing process, you don’t need to worry too much about the order of things that you draw. You can start with the head shape, you can start with an ear, or an eyeball. Since you’ve gone through the process of thumbnail, rough sketch and abstraction sketch, you’ve done the hard part of creating the exaggeration, refining the likeness and correcting any drawing errors. Now is the really fun part where you can just render it as realistically or as simply as you like. You can spend an hour on one eye, making it look pretty, or just add some basic cross hatching lines to indicate the light and shadow. It all depends on your personal tastes, your skill level and what you ultimately want to do with this drawing. If this drawing will be the last thing you ever do with this particular caricature, make it as good and as finished as you can. But if you are going to move on to the next logical step and turn this drawing into a color painting, you may not want to spend a great deal of time on rendering every last detail here. You’ll just want to do enough to help you figure out your strategy for painting it.

Since I like to paint my caricatures, I’ll only draw this until the point where it can fully inform my painting. That means that this drawing should show the details of the anatomy and the different planes and volumes of the head. I will try to indicate as full a range of values as I can with this pencil to show where the lightest lights and darkest darks will be in my painting.

But I won’t be attempting to create a photo-realistic rendering in graphite. I won’t even worry about smoothing out the rough pencil strokes because I happen to like the look of visible textures and pencil strokes in a drawing. I think they add an extra element of interest, which will be a reflection of your personal style.

You should never worry yourself over how to develop your own personal artistic style. It will emerge naturally after doing many, many drawings and paintings. Also, the artists who you admire and study will have a visible effect on your style. You will unconsciously end up making marks similar to them, because of all the time you spend staring at their work.

So my strategy for shading in the forms here does follow a basic pattern. I first lightly shade in as large an area as I can. I try to make the direction of the strokes move either across the form or up and down the length of it. Since I’m leaving many pencil strokes visible, I want the direction of the strokes to indicate the directions of the planes. The hair will be more roughly indicated than the skin, of course, because of the strong texture of the locks and strands.

Also, I will usually darken in some small area early on in a drawing to almost full black, like I’ve done under the chin and jaw. This helps me judge the relative darkness of my other halftone values. If you wait until the very end to add your darkest darks, you may find then that your halftones all look too light in value, by comparison.

At this stage, I could probably stop since most of the forms and planes are lightly indicated. However, I want the drawing to have more visual punch, so I now will go over many of the same areas with darker values. Your personal rendering style may be a little different. Perhaps you prefer to finish one small area completely to a full range of values before moving on to the rest of the head. And that’s perfectly fine. But for me, I tend to dance around the whole head, bringing up the various parts to a finish all together. By doing that, I can have a little more control over the look of the finished drawing. If, for example I want to leave the back of the head unfinished and unfocused so that I can create a focal point at an eye or the mouth, I’m more able to accomplish that, because I can take in the drawing all at once when I periodically step back from it.

But if you’re more of a fine renderer of detail, then you may want to complete small areas one at a time. I’ve seen many beautiful drawings come out of that technique.

So now I’m just adding the final dark accents to the drawing. I think I’m done, so I sign the bottom. But then I spend a few more minutes refining some unfinished areas. I darken in some of the half-tones, add highlights with an eraser and add hard-edged lines up against some of the soft shapes. A good drawing will have a wide variety of edges, just like it should have a wide range of values.

I give the hair another pass, darkening it a bit and adding harder edges to give it a stronger texture in places. If this drawing was going to be the end, I would probably spend more time modeling the hair. But since I plan to paint this as well, I will be focusing most of my efforts painting it over the course of several hours.

Christopher walken final sketch

What’s Next

The next video will cover how to caricature the human body. Whether you work as a live caricaturist, an illustrator or fine artist, you will frequently need to include the subject’s body. The body in a caricature will need to not only be funny, but will need to have a strong likeness and express gesture and movement.

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Assignment

If you’re following along with these lessons, you’ll want to take your best abstraction sketch and trace over it to create your final caricature drawing. And then spend some time on it to add shading in whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Post your finished drawings on the Proko: Art of Caricature Facebook group. And if you ask for a critique, I may pick your drawing to discuss in an upcoming video.

Premium Section

In the premium section, check out several videos we’ve posted showing some long caricature renderings with pencil, charcoal and digital sketching.

Filed in: CaricatureVideos

Comments (3)

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  1. Fintan says:

    I’m curious to know if Court uses the Blackwing Palamino normally or if it is to aid darker lines that can be picked up more easily by the camera? I know when I try to photograph my graphite sketches much of the subtle detail doesn’t get picked up.

    • Court Jones says:

      The way the drawing table is lit from the sides, there wouldn’t be any glare of any graphite pencil. So, no particular reason for using the Blackwing other than Stan had recently introduced me to it. I like it a lot for sketching, I would like to have had different levels of hardness to work with, though.

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