Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Shape of Shapes to Come

Don't worry. It's not this...

  which still could be a reject. If you'd of told me eight years ago that I'd be doing caricatures that look like this now I would have said "Get outa town!... How could I ever achieve such a washed out front-lighting in a live caricature?" And you would have answered, "—but this is from a photo." And I would have replied, "Well, if that's what it's gonna come be it."

When I was trained in caricatures, the first order of business was to draw straight parallel lines that gradated smoothly from thick to thin and back again like this.

I had to do pages and pages before I could advance to the next exercise which was pom poms.

Pom poms would form the foundation for how to draw hair

 and obviously pom poms. A day and a half might have been spent, practicing line quality in this way and familiarizing myself with the marker before I was introduced to representational forms in the form of forms showing mouth forms and nose forms.

(not actual form)

This was the part I had been looking formward too. This was the training that wasn't available at art school. I was given a page of eyes shapes. There were about 10 or so cartoon eyes I would copy over and over; then mouths; then noses, and finally face shapes which included also the ears and hair. 

(not actual form)

And the next step was where it really became fun.  I had to use the shapes to invent faces, and also I was to sit down stray children for free demos and find ways to force their faces into the forms. Of course I was permitted and encouraged to change up the shapes, but I wanted my caricature to look like "the live caricature style" which I always had a great admiration for, so I would ask my trainer for new shapes which he would kindly give me, and at one point I approached a caricature phenom who worked at our park and asked if he could show me some of his shapes, but he sort of laughed the question off, and I realized that I could learn some of his shapes by simply looking at his caricatures. Stupid question. Stupid! Stupid!

  After I built up a good shape vocabulary, I began experimenting with exaggeration, which to me, at that time, meant looking for the most unusually large dimensions and making them larger which is pretty much how it works. And, I must add that I would veer from my shape sets whenever I saw a different more correct or concise way to represent something. So I saw shapes and exaggeration as being two different things:

the shapes
The bank of features that you have in your head.  A specific shape should be drawn in accordance with it being perceived/felt in the customer's face.

the exaggeration 
The stretching of the shapes, interestingly, also to be done in accordance with it being perceived/felt in the customer's face.

  But what do you stretch a shape too? You stretch it to a shape, and if the viewer makes a connection in his brain between that shape and the face of the subject than likeness has been achieved, at least as far as that shape is concerned. So it's all shapes. I'm tellin' you. 
  For instance what if somebody looks like this guy?

Then, well by golly, that's what we want to show. This drawing is by the immensely cool Basil Wolverton. A live caricature artist has all kinds of stuff like this in his head, and he yearns for the right opportunity to bust it out. 

And this is a shape too.'s all shapes and exaggeration and who knows waht.


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