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How to Sketch Heavyset Body Types – Caricature

April 20, 20170 Comments

John Goodman is one of my favorite actors. And he’s just awesome. I have lots of respect for him and his work. He also happens to be a good example of a heavy body type that we can caricature.

The first thing I do for the gesture portion of this drawing is to indicate the size of the head, followed by the movement of the pose as shown by that long centerline. Even though he’s just standing in place, there is still movement to his pose. His hips are jutting out to the left, so his head, torso and legs form a slight ā€œSā€ curve ā€“ which was traditionally called the “contrapposto” pose. The angle of the shoulders and the hips contradict each other, similar to Michelangelo’s David. If there is even a slight indication of action or movement in a static pose like this, it’s always good to exaggerate that motion. It will help make your figures look more dynamic.

To exaggerate his body type, I elongate the torso, as well as widen the body at the hips. The effect of corpulence is heightened also by a smaller head. I want to make him appear like a mountain of a man, almost of an epic stature. I actually saw him in person once at a frozen custard shop in St. Louis. And he was a very tall and imposing presence. If you’re able to meet your subjects in person, celebrity or not, be observant. Take mental notes on your impressions of their physicality, because there’s no better teacher than direct observation from life.

Now that I’m well into the rough sketch portion of this drawing, I’m figuring out some details like the folds in the clothing. The t-shirt is stretched tightly across his torso, while the pants are large and overly baggy. That combination further helps give the impression that he’s a mountain of a man ā€“ wide at the bottom and small at the peak.

Shading the belly is sort of like shading a sphere. Whenever you are on the early stages of a drawing, always try to think of the forms as simple geometric volumes like spheres and cylinders. The clothing gets draped or stretched over those forms, with folds and wrinkles converging at points of tension, like a shoulder, elbow or hip. Studying drapery and folds is a whole subject unto itself. If you’re not extremely familiar with the rules of drapery, just rely on your observation skills and think about the forms underlying the clothing.

As with my other body sketches in this lesson, I don’t spend too much time working on the likeness in the face. My main goal here is to get a likeness in the body. I want to stress the power of the shape and proportions of the body to help capture a subject’s likeness. If you think for a moment about how you are able to recognize a friend or family member in a crowd from a great distance, from behind, it’s the body that you see first. Not the face. When you think about that, it becomes clear how important the body shape and posture of someone is. So it’s really worth it to invest more time on the bodies in your drawing.

Drawing the body well not only helps communicate the subject’s likeness, but also their attitude and personality. If you’re doing a caricature for editorial illustration, the pose is also usually important to the story or gag being presented. And then you face the challenge of either finding a photo of your subject in the right pose, or you’ll need to photograph yourself or a model, but then change the physique in your drawing so that it looks more like the subject’s body. That’s a practice we may go over in a future video down the road.

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