Exercise 1 – Caricatures and characters
Caricatures aim to represent the character accurately.
Thea Brine / Martin Rowson / Barry Fantoni / John Heartfield created anti-Nazi photomontages (created in the photographic darkroom)
Pick a well-known television celebrity or personality who has a public persona on screen that might contrast with their private life or who has a particular reputation – for example, an aggressive interviewer, a philandering sports person or a vain actor.
Aim to make the portrait recognisable. Try and maintain a level of recognition, so people know who you are drawing.
Reflect in your learning log whether you have been successful in achieving this. You may want to test your drawings on a friend or family member.
Do they know who it is and what traits you are trying to caricature?
Some of the images above used collage to achieve their results. Thea Brine has a lovely sense of layering and textures from her collages while Martin Rowson has opted for a more theatrical and exaggerated expression of the characters. They’re similar to the Spitting Image characters from the 80s in that they’re very much a caricature of the person but it’s been pushed to the extreme. Barry Fantoni has a great sense of exaggerated proportions, keeping the likeness in the face and stance while maintaining a clear play with the sizes of hands and heads. John Heartfield’s work with photography is stunning and not something I was familiar with. Hi composition is strong and powerful and the work looks modern even now. It’s message was very clear and blunt and spoke volumes for the time.
For my attempt at this exercise, I chose a celebrity known for all the wrong reasons. She has had a mountain of plastic surgery done and featured on an interview on This Morning, a television show on ITV. She is a caricature of herself without any adjustments, so taking on her likeness was not so much of an issue. The challenge for me was whether I could make it more exaggerated and yet retain a likeness without being too ridiculous.
I wanted it to be playful and have more of a game character design that would be a caricature of her.
Images from Google and istock
Street Fighter Bubble Game characters were my mood board as they were still in proportion but smaller versions of the main characters. As the celebrity is famous because of a lifestyle choice rather than working, I felt it was important to echo the tools of the trade she was using for fame.
Final images and reflection:
A good start but only the neck was exaggerated.
A better representation of a caricature.
further edit –
I used the collage approach that Thea Brine used. Using photos of a pattern on a small storage unit I had at home, I felt that the patterns were very strong, angular and sharp and so would compliment the style going for with the surgical tools pattern. The effect was really interesting and I like it.
I changed the background colour to a more alien green effect and colour saturation was tweaked. The final image is definitely more interesting, and might benefit from a more sketched version. The heavy lines I’ve used are distinctly cartoonish and deliberately so. A light pencil might work but I felt I didn’t want to go for realism on this exercise and preferred the heavy line. However, I did feel that her eyes were not as small as I could’ve made them, and based on Fantoni’s approach I tried adjusting the size.
The adjustments worked. Having a smaller set of eyes and enlarging the lips further actually add to the image. I don’t think the likeness was lost with this adjustment, if feels more accurate weirdly enough.
So I’m definitely feeling that pushing the image to be more ridiculous is important, but knowing when to pause that might be a good thing too. The collage works for me, less highlights works better too and exaggerated features with more contrast between big and small seems to work really well.
My husband knew who it was as I made him watch the interview and he saw that the likeness was present and felt it was a good match. He may have been biased!
Anastasia Pakreschuk (2021) The Sun