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Top tips for creating caricatures

By Mark Hammermeister
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 20th April 2015
Software used:
Photoshop
2020_tid_robford_hires.jpg

Mark Hammermeister shares top tips on creating caricatures as he shares the process he used to paint his image Mayor Rob Ford in Photoshop.


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This is a self-promotional caricature I did of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, whose antics recently gained worldwide attention. A good caricature should capture more than just the superficial features of the subject. Whenever possible, it should encompass the subject's personality and make a statement about who they are.

A good caricature should capture more than just the superficial features of the subject. Whenever possible, it should encompass the subject's personality and make a statement about who they are.


I knew I wanted to do a piece that focused more on Ford's self-destructive nature than just the clownish persona he had been showing publicly. In most cases, the first thing I do before I start a new painting, is draw a series of quick thumbnail sketches in order to figure out the idea. But in this case I had such a strong image in my mind of how the final piece would look I felt confident enough to start with a loose sketch. I did a quick Google search for some photo references of Ford in order to shore up the likeness and I was ready to go.

In order to draw a good caricature, it's necessary to develop your skills of observation


In order to draw a good caricature, it's necessary to develop your skills of observation. Learn to pick out and identify the major shapes of the face and make judgments of which features you plan to exaggerate and which to de-emphasize. Rob Ford has a huge, egg shaped head and tiny, beady eyes hidden beneath a big shelf of a brow. By reducing the eyes, nose and mouth and squeezing them into the middle of his face, it makes him seem even larger overall.

Step 1: Start with a sketch

I do my sketching using Ditlev's pencil brush (you can find it by searching Google). I kept my sketch loose and set the layer mode to Mulitply. I filled the layer below that one with a greenish gradient. The green base color will help set the overall tone for the entire image.

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I drew my sketch on its own layer and set the layer mode to Multiply.

Step 2: Blocking Base Colors

I create another layer below the sketch and, using a hard round brush, I block in my base colors. I choose a dark mid-tone for each base color. I'll avoid zooming for some time over the course of my painting. This allows me to work faster and not get hung up with the details.

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Using a basic hard round brush, I begin by blocking in base colors on a separate layer below my sketch layer.

Step 3: Modeling Forms

I gradually begin working in other colors to model the forms and give the flat colors from the first step some depth. I determined early on that I wanted to have one of the main light sources coming in from above, so I paint in some deep shadows, giving him a sinister appearance.

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I gradually begin working in other colors to give the flat shapes form and depth.

Step 4: Refining the shapes

I continue rendering the forms to create the illusion of depth. I also decided his ear was too big, so I selected that part with the lasso tool and shrunk it down. You can see how much compared to the sketch layer. I've started switching between the hard round brush and one of the standard Photoshop rough edged brushes.

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I continue rendering the forms using a combination of the hard round brush and one of the rough, "painterlyā€¯ brushes.


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