The first aim of caricature artists is to create a unique likeness of someone that all who are familiar with would immediately recognise. There is a long tradition for giving the subject a large head on a small body. This always creates a humorous effect, which is what people usually want to see. Richard Deverell, the caricature artist has created caricatures on and off for many years, and is finding more commissions for this kind of art are finding their way to him.
Caricatures for special occasions
Usually people like a caricature to mark a special occasion, a birthday, wedding, end of an era, retirement etc. caricatures somehow give a more personal impression of an occasion than a photograph. Something uniquely special. It adds an extra element to place the subject in an environment that reflects their special interests or passions.
Richard recently created a wedding caricature for a couple of skydivers. The couple were depicted in their wedding clothes gently floating through the clouds together. This ended up as a full colour caricature portrait. The next step was to draw caricatures of lots of the wedding guests. Each subject would sit for Richard for about 20 minutes at the wedding venue. This meant making a pencil sketch drawn on the spot. This is always a very strict discipline for caricature artists. To home into the essential elements of each person's face and to get as close a likeness as you can in very limited time. It's slightly bizarre to stare at a person for 20 minutes just after meeting them for the first time.
As time was limited there were only a few guests who could experience this one to one session. Most of them seemed to enjoy it! We then had to resort to photography for the remaining guests. I left the wedding venue with a sheaf of pencil sketches and a camera full of images. It was decided to make each caricature into a black and white tone picture. This would give a much stronger image than the soft pencil sketches. So after downloading the photos onto the computer, each guest is scrutinised on screen without the stress of another human being looking straight back at you.
Pencil drawings are then made, these are then inked over with a brush pen and fibre tipped pen. A little bit of touching up with permanent white on a fine sable brush renders the drawing ready for scanning. Once the drawing has been scanned onto the computer, solid blacks and flat greys are dropped in using a paintbucket tool in Adobe® PhotoShop® then areas are selected for gently airbrushing the facial features. This creates an "in the round" impression. The dodge and burn tools are then used to create shadow and highlights in the hair. The caricature is now complete!
Another interesting area for caricature artists is children. Sitting and looking across a desk straight into the expectant eyes of a child can be quite disarming when you first do it. The child is trusting you to do some creative magic, so you'd better come up with the goods. More often than not you will also have the child's parent hovering behind, smiling, expecting even more magic, since they are paying! Of course what is extra special about children is that you are capturing a short space of development in a child's growing phase. They change very quickly, so if you draw them six months later there will be something different about them. When you have applied the final flourish to the sketch, if you've got it right, you are rewarded by a smiling child and a delighted parent. At this point you can call yourself a caricature artist.