Drawing caricatures from photos, life and a unique perspective

There are two sides to my art: commissioned caricatures that I draw from photos in my Perth studio; and live caricatures that are drawn for party or corporate event entertainment. Two very different disciplines, but drawing from (pun intended) the same discipline and craft.

So what is a caricature?

Whether drawn from a photo or from a (usually nervous-looking) face in front of me, a caricature is a caricature. Originally a French word derived from the Italian ‘caricare’ (meaning ‘overload’), ‘caricature’ means to exaggerate, not distort – a subtle but important difference.

Distortion alters, whereas exaggeration is recognisable. That’s why I refer to my caricatures as ‘hyper-realistic’ – not photos, not cartoons, but exaggerations of reality that capture a person’s essence and uniqueness of character. A ‘characterture’ as they are often mistakenly called.

Unique people, unique caricatures

Some caricature artists have a formulaic approach, a bit like using an ident-a-kit jigsaw puzzle – they have a range of styles of eyes, noses, chins and so on that they arrange in different combinations for different people. That’s fine, but I have a blank-page approach to every caricature I draw.

I don’t start with a suite of interchangeable features – I start with your face.

Commissioned caricatures from photos

When I’m in my Perth studio working on a commission, I work from photos. Lots of photos. The more information and photos I have, the better the result.

Once I’ve studied the brief and photos thoroughly, the process is essentially the same as the process employed by fine artists working in oils or acrylics. I still work in traditional mediums, but more often I paint digitally using my Wacom Cintiq tablet – the Rolls Royce of digital painting tablets.

1) First I sketch my subject, constantly referring back to the photos
2) Then I ‘block in’, again referencing the photos
3) And finally, I build up layer after layer, refining the details and colours

Find out more about my commissioned caricatures and check out my caricature gallery, which includes celebrity caricatures that are available as prints.

Is there any photo-manipulation involved?

No, definitely not. Creating digital caricatures from photos is exactly the same process as painting in oils. Sketch. Block in. Build up layers. The main benefit comes in being able to show my clients work in progress, as well as making it easier to apply my work to a host of personalised gifts.

Live entertainment gigs in Perth

The other side to my craft is live caricature sessions for parties and events – wedding entertainment, birthday parties, anniversaries, corporate events… any occasion really.

My live sessions are pretty intense. I draw caricatures for hours on end, usually averaging one every 4-6 minutes. I sketch and then I shade using markers to make each caricature come to life as quickly as possible – a unique memento of the day for guests. Find out more about my live entertainment.