Monday, December 21, 2009

How to draw caricatures and cartoons, Lesson 4:

Draw this girl until you can draw her exactly as she appears.

Yes, it's almost the same exercise as lesson one. Everything is in about the same place on a woman's face as on a man. But there are some subtle differences: A thicker line for eyelashes, softer eyebrows, fuller lips, smaller chin, rounder jaw.
Again, this is the average face. Make this your template, you can draw almost woman from this base.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What went wrong?

Here's something that happens:
I drew this caricature of Matthew McConaughy without a shirt. So far so good, right? But I've been putting this up at work for about a week now, and about one out of every three passers-by will say "Hey! Look! It's Owen Wilson!"
Seriously? I gave him kind of a big nose, because he has kind of a big nose, but to me, this doesn't look like Owen Wilson. It looks like Matthew McConaughy.
This happens to every caricature artist. The work we think is our best isn't, and the work we think is our worst turns out okay after all.
But really? Owen Wilson?
Have an opinion?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How to draw caricatures and cartoons, Lesson 3:

What not to do:

Don't bother drawing every single line on the nose. That'll just make the picture look busy and amateur. Just draw the bottom of it, describing the end of it and the nostrils, and throw a line in there that shows how the bridge connects it to the forehead.

Here's a few different ways to draw teeth. I use the first if I'm in a hurry, the second if the subjects' teeth are important to their likeness. I only use the third and fourth I'm trying to make the subject look bad.
Some folks have a very turned-up nose. This example, on the far upper left, is generally as far as I'll go with that. This is one of those things that if you push it too far, they're going to look bad and you might not get paid.

If someone has a huge nose, you can split the difference between that and the average-sized nose that you've learned how to draw by now. So you draw a nose that's half way between the persons' actual nose, and an average one. This means you can still get a likeness, without offending them. The same goes for the mouth, head size, eye depth, everything. Find that middle ground to make (almost) everyone happy.
Of course, if you want to skewer everyone, take that big nose and make it bigger. Same with the mouth, head size, eye depth, everything.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to draw caricatures and cartoons, Lesson 2a:

Formulas! The nose and mouth.

Simple: There's nothing to the nose... just put it in the right place and watch your line weight. Get that first nose down and move on to the second... learn how to draw accurate foreshortened nostrils.

On the mouth, pay close attention to where the lines are heaviest. This is probably the most important area to control your marker well. Every little change in weight will make a different shape or expression.

Next post: A lot of what not to do

Monday, November 9, 2009

How to draw caricatures and cartoons, Lesson 2:


"But I don't want to learn formulas! I want to learn to draw."

Drawing with a marker requires you to make a lot of very fast decisions. If you're new to this, you can be overwhelmed and disheartened very quickly. This stuff is hard to learn.
Learning formulas to quickly draw features will remove one task from your crowded brain. You'll be more able to focus on placement, line weight, shapes, planes, and carrying on a conversation.
Once learned, these formulas can be adapted to any face, changed, or forgotten. The important thing is that they make your task more endurable now.

1. Draw a thick line on top.

2. Draw a thin line on bottom.

3. The iris is a perfect circle... but don't draw the whole circle.

4. Draw a shadow on the iris, cast by the eyelashes.

5. Put a highlight in the eye. Off-center, not too big.

6. Put the pupil right in the middle of the iris.

7. Add an eyelid.

Do this until you do it without thinking. Most of my new people forget to draw the shadow (step 4) after awhile. Don't forget the shadow. It adds a lot of subtlety and depth.

How the eyelid sits over the iris. Usually, the eye opens just wide enough for the pupil to be exposed, no further.
Don't forget to position the highlight below the shadow.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I've finished all the illustrations for Yalu and the Puppy Room, by Brian Yates. Here's pictures three, four, and five. This is the part where she's turned down for adoption, and realizes she's going to have to get proactive if she wants to get anywhere. It's a really cute story, made even cuter by my cute drawings.
Not sure when the publish date is, but Brian and Mystic Publishers are working hard to produce and promote it, so probably not more than a few months. I'm looking forward to having a copy... I don't get to see too much of my own work in print. Yet.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

How to draw caricatures and cartoons, Lesson 1a:


  • Don't sketch!
Draw each line once. You have to get it right the first time.

If it's wrong, don't try to fix it. Just draw it again.
  • There are two separate areas that you'll be improving at the same time with this exercise: The quality of your line, and the accuracy of your observation.
You need to draw each line once. You need to draw it in the right place. And it needs to go from thick to thin to describe forms and shadows.
You need to be able to instantly gauge the size, shape, and distance of the features to each other, and the size and shape of the head relative to the features.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to draw caricatures and cartoons, Lesson one:

If you're going to learn how to draw caricatures and cartoons, you need to start by drawing this, the Most Average Guy In The World.
Grab a marker and paper. No pencil, no eraser, no underdrawing. Draw this guy exactly as he appears. If you can do it, skip ahead to the advanced lessons. If you can't, do it nineteen more times.

I make all Cartoon Vegas employees go through this exact exercise.
"Why should I do this?"

Three reasons:
1. Drawing a caricature is a process of constantly measuring sizes and distances against each other. Having this perfectly average head to call on will give you a strong framework on which to hang the infinite variety of people you'll be drawing.
I drew this in a minute and ten seconds. This face is lodged deep in my brain. If you practice this face until it becomes effortless, you'll make it your template for all other faces. Your hand will want to draw this face. If the person you're drawing has a big chin, You'll instantly judge how much bigger it is than this chin. If the person you're drawing has ears that are a little small, you'll instantly judge how much smaller.

2. At Cartoon Vegas, we don't do any underdrawing. We don't do any sketching. When someone sits in front of us, we just grab the marker and start.
You need to get very, very comfortable drawing directly with the marker. And it's hard. It's difficult enough trying to get a smooth line in the right place without worrying about varying the weight and not wobbling while you do it. Drawing this face over and over again is a crash course in line quality, placement, and control.

3. It's a test of you.
Drawing this face twenty times is boring. It's frustrating. It's not as easy and fun as you think it's going to be. And it's just the beginning.
No one will stick with this unless they really love to draw. No one will stick with this unless they really want to gain the ability. You'll find out just how dedicated you are.
Everyone makes mistakes. Most people make the same mistakes each time. When you've got twenty drawings of the same face, you can look over them all and find your common weaknesses.

Don't throw away that drawing you just made!
It's terrible, right? Embarrassing?
Save it! Hide it in the basement, and dig it up in a couple of years. You'll be entertained and amazed by how far you've come!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We had a phase where everybody was making elaborate and creative "out to lunch" signs. This was my best. Definitely click it for a better view of the details.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In September and October we had a LOT of events. Andrea and I went to Maryland, drew caricatures at two county fairs and painted two murals. Then we went to Missouri, drew at a literature festival and gave a workshop on comic book creation. We had three events in Vegas while we were gone. Amanda worked at one wedding and one Elvis-themed company party. She got to draw ten guys dressed as Elvis at an Elvis Last Supper. I'm pretty jealous. And Joseph handled a raunchy birthday party for a 30-year-old.
I'll post some of the Elvis pics when I get my hands on them. Here's us at the meet-the-authors gala from the Literary Festival, and here's Andrea at the Great Frederick fair, on the rainiest, gloomiest day!

Friday, October 23, 2009

I've been working on a kid's book for the last month or so. It's called Yalu and the Puppy Room, by Brian Yates. It's being drawn in almost my usual caricature style, so it's pretty fun work for me.
It's also awfully cute. Great for the portfolio!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Here's just another one of those things you see in Vegas... Indian tourists and giant, giant porn. I challenge you to show me the same thing anywhere else in the world!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Well, you know. That guy from Twilight is so hot right now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The link to our CartoonVegas website is there in my profile, but I thought I'd better put it here too.  It's:

Here's some new drawings based on my experiences drawing caricatures at O'sheas.  This top one will be familiar to anyone who's walked down the Las Vegas strip in the last few years.  Yes, it's exactly like that.  The bottom one is, of course, O'sheas itself.  Color to follow!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

In late March, we opened a new caricature stand at O'sheas Casino on the Las Vegas strip!  I made these sketches to show the retail managers what different kinds of stands could look like.  The one on the top is a concept I've never seen, but imagine could work in certain locations.  We now have a stand that's modeled after this bottom drawing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

These guys are just barely caricatures.  I couldn't find a way to really exaggerate them, so all I've done is Johnny Depps skinny nose and crazy hair, and of course the ears on Will Smith.