Drawing Harrison Ford – Caricature Sketch Example


The Thumbnail Sketch Since we never published my thumbnail sketch
process for Harrison Ford, we’re including them here. So just to review, the main goal in a thumbnail
sketch is to simply figure out what direction I want the caricature to take – what the concept
of the exaggeration will be. It’s kind of synonymous to a writer’s outline
for a novel or screenplay. It is quick and only contains the major plot
points, but is enough to give an idea of the direction that the story will take from the
beginning to the end. I’ve decided that the main theme of this caricature
will be his crooked nose and mouth. In fact, even his eyes are asymmetrical. One is much smaller and squinty than the other. So that will be the common thread in all of
my thumbnail sketches. I try several different head shapes, to see
what is funniest, but I know that in each one, I need to retain those crooked facial
features, or I’ll lose the likeness. By my third sketch, I feel like I’m finally
loosening up and being more creative with the head shapes. With Mr. Ford, I think a wide variety head
shapes could be successful, just as long as I stay true to those crooked features that
are so dominant and distinctive on him. With other people, the head shape is more
important to get right, but with others, like Indiana Jones here, the facial features are
what tell the story. On this, my final thumbnail sketch, I decide
to go with a head shape that’s not really based on what I’m seeing in the photo. His cheeks and jaw are not that wide. But stereotypically, the thing that distinguishes
an older man from women or children are a long, wide lower face. So I’m really exaggerating the head shape
of his character type here, rather than his individual head shape. I felt like I could get away with it, as long
as the features are represented accurately. Light and shadow play a huge part in revealing
the forms of any likeness, so my thumbnail sketch, quick and sloppy as it is, still has
some indications of shadow. Just enough to get the point across. The Rough Sketch For my rough sketch, I decide to trace over
my original thumbnail. Sometimes I set the thumbnail sketch to the
side and try to copy it freehand. But whenever the thumbnail sketch is resolved
well enough, I usually do a tracing where I try to improve the structure and likeness. So to improve the structure, I use a centerline
to help guide the placement of the features, and I slow down, overall, compared to how
I drew the thumbnail. Also, when drawing the features, I’m much
more deliberate and careful. In this sketch, the quality of the shapes
matter a lot more than they did in the previous sketch. In the thumbnail sketch, I drew the features
in a kind of shorthand, like how I might scribble notes for the outline of a story. But now, I’m writing the actual story, from
my scribbled notes. The head and features need to be more fleshed
out and resolved, just like the story’s characters should be. But if they’re not fully resolved and extremely
detailed yet, that’s okay. I’ll polish them up in the next draft, which
we’ll get to in the next lesson on the Abstraction. I hope my writer’s analogy isn’t becoming
over labored. I do see a lot of parallels in the creative
process between the writer and the artist. Now, I’m fairly happy with the shapes and
am using some simple cross hatch shading to fill in the shadows and define the halftones. In order to make a judgment call on the success
of this rough sketch, I like to have a bit more definition of the forms. I don’t want to leave just the outlines, because
it would feel too cartoony and simplistic. Since my finished drawing or painting will
be realistically painted or shaded, sculpting the forms with halftones and shadows helps
lay the groundwork for what I’ll be doing later. And sometimes, those indications of plane
changes help clarify the likeness even more. But now, I do something I don’t always do
with a rough sketch, I flip it in reverse to check for structural problems. And then instead of erasing and redrawing
the lines, I take the sketch into Photoshop’s Liquify window, to make subtle changes to
the existing shapes. I’m not normally a fan of the Liquify tool,
because it can be abused to create an unstructured blob. So I’m careful about not overdoing it. In this reverse view, I see all of my unintentional
asymmetries. The only thing I really wanted to be crooked
where his fleshy features. Not the structure of his skull. So I do my best to push and pull the shapes
of the head until they feel right. The technique of reversing your drawing to
find problems is an extremely helpful one, and you should whenever you can. It’s amazing to discover how many skewed shapes
and unintended distortions were hiding in plain sight. When drawing, many of us tend to not see those
things until we view the sketch with fresh eyes. Taking a break and coming back to it after
a while is also helpful, as is standing back and viewing the drawing from a distance. Here, I’m using the Liquify tool to change
the facial expression. I’m making the smile more extreme. I even used it earlier to make the nose more
crooked and the eye on the left more squinty. As long as I keep the Liquify cursor large,
and I don’t push the features too far, it won’t have a liquified look. If you have to push the features really far
to correct them, you should probably just redraw the lines or move them with the selection
tool. The Liquify tool is only good for small nudges. And now, because this caricature featured
so many crooked and asymmetrical features, I draw some vertical and horizontal guidelines
to help me better judge the structure of the rest of the head. Satisfied, that the structure is reasonably
even, I can now move on to the next step.

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