Friday, January 31, 2014

Reject Mountain 4 - Kingdom of the Chrystal Reject


reject. but they were right, though. 
The drawing on the left there is a wreck. The parents did good. You know how I know they did good? Because I don't remember anything. They must have did some kind of hocus pocus on me. They get a 10.

Bad reject. Bad! (imagine I'm slapping the back of the mom's hand) This looked like her daughter, and it's funny and cute and charming and the mom was dumb. They get a 4. unacceptable.

reject. It was my failure. The likeness wasn't fantastic. I got the eyes a little too close together. The dad let it all crystallize, though, so I gotta give him credit. 8 points for Dad.

  This here is a little kid who came to Lotte World with his grandpa. As I was doing the drawing my reject sense kicked in a little bit, not because of anything the grandpa was doing but because of the way I drew the kid's face. I know it's not all that crazy but lopsidedness coupled with a lack of exaggeration has bit me before. And then as I finished and everything was honky dory and the grandpa smiled and what have you, I was thinking in the back of my head kind of like "Haha. Good old grandpa doesn't know mom's don't like this kind of thing." It's like when grandpa gets you a Tailor Swift sweater because he heard you're into Pop Music. Well this got returned. I give the customers a 3. I bet they got a photo. I can't be sure though.

I dove into this with a what-the-hey level 8 riskiness. I know it doesn't look like it, but it's just mostly because of this part here,
and the girl was about seven years old.  I could have blacked that little dip out and everything would have been hunky dunky, but instead I started over,

and drew this which got rejected also. But... had I started with this, I think it would have been a sale, and that's the frustrating part.

What happened was my coworker was drawing the girl's sister at the same time, and then there was murmur, and they murmured to my coworker, but she didn't say anything to me yet, but I started over, and she didn't know I started over and the parents didn't either, I guess. Then after she finished the sister, she had the girl I was drawing move over into her chair (I know. A little bit rude, but I think she knew that I can read murmur pretty well, so it's not quite as rude as it sounds {but still a little bit rude}), and I was like "No no. I started over," and then somebody must have grimly said to the mom "go have a look." Then, the mom comes over within sight of my current drawing, looks at it, putting all of her weight  on the foot nearest me,
shook her head no, and that was that. That made me mad. I had to get up and leave the stand. I don't usually get too riled up, but that one riled me.

And this is the chrystal reject. The little girl—let's say her name was Crystal— looked like what you see in this drawing, but the mom—let's say she was on Crystal Meth, just kidding. She was fine. She was of sound mind. It wasn't a reject at first, but the mom was very iffy and she explained to my coworker that it wasn't ugly and it wasn't pretty it was just very...meh, as they say. She admitted that it looked like her girl, but beyond that, she seemed to see no value in the drawing, and then she paid and left. Later she came back. This was actually a case of a lackluster portrait getting rejected because the mom wanted a caricature. My coworker did the redraw, and it wasn't really a caricature but it didn't look like the girl which was close enough to satisfy the mom. may have been a case of me not being in tune enough with Asian faces. But anyway you look at it, one thing is crystal clear: People like them silly caricatures. Except for when they don't of course. And we'll end with a non reject to go out on a positive note. This is a near-reject.
 Not a reject

While I was drawing the girl on the left, she was pushing me to draw a smile, but parents don't understand how children, ESPECIALLY Korean children can't hold a fake smile.
After I finished there was a lot of reject murmur but I had another customer immediately which I drew as wacky as I could and the mom, seeing this, must have had some kind of epiphany, I'd like to hope. She didn't reject the drawing. Well that's my positive note. Everybody stay positive now.

When you look at caricatures one way, they're the easiest thing in the world, but when you look at them another way, they're closer to impossible.

People ask what's the best way to practice caricatures? The obvious answer is "draw caricatures" but even within that, how does one improve at an art form wherein the less likely you are to draw something again, the more necessary it is for you to draw it this time? Well, it would seem that you can't, if you put it that way. But the trick, then, would be drawing and observing often enough and honestly enough that you amass a knowledge of frequently re-occurring but often overlooked facial features, and then confront the customer with a classification of their face.

But you gotta have fun with it or the customer may leave the experience feeling frightened and disoriented and alone, if you do it right.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014


I liked my last week's idea. This week I have no ideas. Have a look at my wife's chin, though.

What did I tell you about Korean women's chins. Man, guys, I really got nothin. You wanna see some caricatures? Ah. Not yet. I'll touch on two things. First, I found a great caricature blog with a writer far better than I. I didn't know there were live caricature artists who write so well and so much. Go to here. Celestia Ward! You know Celestia Ward. Who am I talking to? I feel like I'm Earnest talking to Vern or something like that. You and me, blogreader! We're pals. Actually my dream is to be the Mister Rogers of caricature. Come on over here, friends. Let's have a look at some caricatures. 

   I kind of like this one, and in the photo you can see a little bit of what I was going for, but the girl on the left, you have to imagine her with her mouth closed. This is how I ungly up a couple of prettys. Oh your not impressed? Fair enough. Maybe you're into the silly stuff.

This kid on the right was so funny. Most little Korean children usually react to the intensity of me starring at them by crying, but this little guy, he just stared back at me and nervously moved his toungue from side to side. By the time the crying kicked in I was already done with him and starting on his brother. 

Here's Paul, but you probably saw this already. 

 I made him fat by accident, but it kind of wasn't by accident too. Maybe that's what they call distortion. 

This is a new guy working for us. His name is Sang Een. He's fun and cool and he looks very sinister like one of the devil's demons. This is just my first shot at him.

But you want silly. I keep forgetting. Well, nothing's sillier than the institution of... caricatures! So lovely.

  All this pressure to get married these days. It's enough to make a girl change into a..

Wedding dress!
 I'm rushing right now. I want to get all this up before midnight. and my computer is dragging like a.. heavy bag.

How bout a little of this,
some hands maybe

a dab of that,

  A splash of something you may have seen already on Facebook, and we'll call it a post. Name's Aaron Philby.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Joe Bluhm Influence

In live caricature, I don't think there are any live caricature artists who've been more conspicuously influential on other live caricature artists than Joe Bluhm. I'm gonna show the top ten things that us folks do because we saw Joe do it first.

So here we go. Top ten. Joe Bluhm.

10. Big Body

Joe turned the caricature world on it's big head/little body by bringing a fresh little head/big body alternative to the table. 

In animation traditions, this is what a body looks like, and it also served as a fine go-to body for caricature artists, but of course with a much bigger head. It's a small central mass with big hands and very big feet, but not everybody's built like this so if a caricature artist can not draw this when it's conspicuously not what he's looking at, he get's bonus points.

Joe brought to live caricature a lot of illustration traditions. This is the illustration body type: a big central mass and tiny limbs and a small head. I remember the first time I saw a Joe Bluhm full body color caricature of a kid playing soccer and he had tiny little feet and I was like, of course! That's perfect. I always loathed drawing color bodies until I realized I didn't have to shoot for Mad Magazine Jack Davis anatomy necessarily–not that I was able to do anything near that.
Now, this is a big head though, but that's probably because the kid had a big head. Look at those skinny little legs. How cool!

9. Glasses Charisma
This one has two subcategories. The first is reflections. After everybody saw Joe's reflections they were like, "Dang! How can I do that? The second category is "the glasses trick," which is this:
It makes you wanna keep a thick pair of glasses at the easel and force all your customers to wear them for the duration. "The glasses trick." You know the glasses trick. I've done it countless times I shouldn't have..and I think you need a lot of realism in your drawing to pull it off so that it actually looks like something.

8. Non-Smiles
If there's no smile and the drawing is still funny than you know that it's the humor in the drawing that they are enjoying and not the humor in the customer's expression. Isolate the source of the humor, is what I'm saying. I'm joking though, but how great is this drawing, and I think he gave her some honkers. Not sure why.

7. The Underview

By angling the customer's face downward a little bit you can get great big Disney eyes, no chance of a pig nose, and a slender chin without having to draw a single dishonest line.

But unfortunately the rules of caricature spell out very clearly that the angle you choose is part of your statement about your subject's face and in no way arbitrary. So, if there's more important stuff, that is, if there's more interesting stuff, that is, if there's more unusual stuff, that is, if there's more risky stuff down below, but you take the up-top angle, that means your a ninny. And Joe's no ninny, is what I'm saying.

 6. Eyes Out in Front

One cool thing about caricatures is you can think you know faces and then you see a drawing exaggerating some dimension that you didn't know existed and then every face you see after that has to answer to that new dimension. 
It's like, imagine the first person who drew an eyeball. Before that, all the experts were portraying human beings as just stick figures with blank heads and punching their time card and going home to read the paper, and then some know-it-all wet-behind-the-ears rookie draws a person with an eyeball, and then all these union guys were like "well that's one more thing I gotta think about," and then after a month of griping and union meetings the kid draws a person with two eyeballs just on a whim before his lunch break, and this old timer passes by the kid's desk while he's gone, and he glances down without thinking too much and then..

Here's some examples of eyes up in front. I did an eyes up in front only a couple months ago on my drawing of Bill Burr, but he definitely has eyes up in front...but here's more examples of other artists doing it, plus one more from myself.

5. Philtrum volume

Most people don't know that the "she don't have a mustache" joke was actually not a joke at all but rather just a normal father's reaction to a caricature artist trying to indicate that space between the nose and the mouth without the proper know-how.

This is how it's done right here. It's got to be puffy. A nice puffy philtrum is the only reason you need to not draw the smile.

Mom: Smile honey! Can you draw her smile?

Artist: No, ma'am, but wait till you see this puffy philtrum!

I use to ride the middle ground a lot, have some teeth showing, but get a little philtrum in there too.

4. No Names, No Hearts, No Song and Dance
Mom: I have prosopagnosia, and don't call me Shirley. 

The job of the artist is to make something awesome. If they are unable to make something awesome, which is their job, the other alternative is to be cooperative and friendly which has an awesomeness to it as well, like when the restaurant makes a mistake with your order so then they bring you a free pizza and you say "AWESOME!"

3. 3/4

Yeah. I'm giving Joe credit for 3/4. I don't know. Why not?

2. Natural Lighting

 I almost put natural lighting as Joe's number one influence on live caricature. This is a big one. It's one of the most noticeably different things he does, and it is a major part of every single sketch. And even people who don't dive in full force and use a brown color stick when coloring white people will still put a little black shadow in the teeth and eyes because of Joe.

Nothin better than some natural lighting. They train us to use an imaginary light source which is a great way to create a sense of volume lickity split, but everything ends up looking a little balloony. People who do studio life drawing know that if you stay faithful to the light source and if you are patient and pure of heart, in time, volume will manifest itself.  Joe however uses natural lighting to build volume, and skin looks like skin and hair looks like hair. It's really very incredible. Part of me wishes he still worked at a theme park, you know. Somewhere, deep down, another time..

1. Undersketching


 It's weird. The most easily quantifiable difference between Asian live caricatures and American live caricatures is, I do believe, the undersketching. I may change my mind about this, but this is just what I'm thinking now. Here in Korea, the business side of the force encourages undersketching, and in America the business side discourages it. I'm not sure why the difference, but I really think that's true.

In America the word Joe Bluhm is synonymous with undersketching. The boss will say to some rookie, "No undersketching!" and the rookie will say "but Joe Bluhm does it." and then the boss will say, "but he's Joe Bluhm, and he's amazing, and you're not amazing." Wise words indeed.

In conclusion, Joe Bluhm has been influential to many caricature artists. These are just my opinions and guesses. I don't know too much about live caricature history, but there's not much literature out there so it's mostly hearsay I think.

Thanks for coming to my blog.