Art & Design Magazine

Caricature Commission- Tutorial

By Karl @cartoonistdiary
Caricature Commission- TutorialI was actually supposed to be putting up another tutorial on another caricature, but that will have to wait. I hope you will think it worthwhile as that one is about how I ended up doing a caricature painting of Frank Bruno, the one time World Heavyweight Champion. And because it was for charity I'll also be touching on my thoughts on working in this field and its value, plus some of the abuses perpetrated by some less reputable people out there.
Anyway, onto today's tutorial.
I have been producing watercolour caricatures for over thirty years now. Admittedly it hasn't been my primary source of income, but over the years I must've produced a couple of hundred private commissions.
I've always found that they make excellent Birthday, Christmas, Wedding and retirement gifts
This caricature was a retirement gift for a chap called Kevin, who works for a customer of mine, the Dalesman Magazine
Now for those of you who have seen my other tutorials on a variety of themes, you will know how I like to break the process down into stages--- just in case there are any of you out there who may just want to have a crack at doing one themselves.
So if you're not too bored of seeing all these stages by now, then sit back and lets go through it again.
A caricature for Kevin
Caricature Commission- Tutorial
Right. First off I get the photo sent to me along with as much information about the study as is possible. In Kevin's case he was an avid walker of the Yorkshire Dales.
He also liked taking groups out, loved his football, wrote a supplement for the Dalesman called 'Down out Way and was a very keen gardener.
Armed with this I produced a rough of Kevin and the scene I thought would work well, and emailed it to the client. They loved it and gave me the green light.
Caricature Commission- TutorialNormally the first stage I show in these tutorials is the pencil art and the masking, but for some reason, best known to the God of cartoonists, I either forgot it, or misplaced it...either is more possible than you would think. Sometimes the thing will even dissappear while I'm using it as reference: don't ask, I really don't know the answer.
But here's a picture of my rather messy watercolour plate, which, for some reason, I did remember to take a photo of. Obviously the God of messy watercolour plates was on the ball that day and is probably the one responsible for the poking sensation in my ribs that only went away when I picked up the camera..
But in the absence of a photo here's what I did: I pencilled the art onto a heavy watercolour paper (you need a heavy paper so as to soak up the large washes without too much crinkling), then I masked out the main character and anything else I didn't want to have to fiddle around when putting the background washes down.
NOW we can move onto the pictures again.
Caricature Commission- Tutorial
I mixed a pale blue wash using Cobalt blue and the lightest dab of ultramarine for depth, wet the paper with clean water, allowed it to dry to a sheen then placed the blue to about three quarters of the way down to the horizon. (note: when working on a wet surface, the color you chose will be a lot lighter as its being diluted. Watercolour paint always dries lighter anyway, but when being placed over a damp surface it dries EVEN be aware and compensate on your mixes)
I then mixed a little bright orange and cadmium red and watered it down and placed that beneath the almost dry blue. This little touch of pinky red gave the painting a nice, fresh, cool morning feel to the painting.
For this picture, and I've no idea why it was so important, I painted all the flesh tones in, all the way up to their final stages.
Caricature Commission- Tutorial
Because I was obviously in the zone, and wished to complete every stage of the painting to its end before moving onto the next bit---something I never normally do--- I just plodded on; finishing skin tones, grass, walls, fields... well you get the picture; sometimes it seems the only discipline I have is the lack of one.
Caricature Commission- Tutorial
I guess the beauty of having completed each stage so thoroughly is that when it came to selecting the color of the characters, it became really easy to see what would work in making them pop out against the rest of the painting.
All in all, I was really very happy with the overall balance of composition and color for this picture, and it remains, to this day, one of my most favorite caricature paintings.
Caricature Commission- Tutorial
Once I feel I've finished the painting I walk away---have a cup of tea, go for a walk, cook some food---anything that clears my mind for about an hour. Then I come back with fresh eyes and see what I may have missed. In this case it was the extra dark shadows.
Caricature Commission- Tutorial
Then it's just a case of inking the characters, lettering where needed, tear the masking tape off to reveal those nice, crisp lines, package it up and dispatching it to the customer.
Then onto the next job.
I hope this, like all my tutorials help you in some way, or just entertain. That said, I hope to see you all back here soon on the Diary of a Cartoonist & Writer.

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