There are many people who consider the humourous paintings of people that I do to be caricature, but just as many who don’t. I consider traditional caricature to be an exaggeration of features while maintaining the likeness. At the risk of trying to slap a label on it, my work fits somewhere in between caricaturing a person and cartooning them. Often it will be a large head, small body, with only mild distortion or exaggeration. For a lot of business or gift purposes, that’s what my clients want. But wild exaggeration or not, I still feel that I have a lot to learn.
I have no desire to be a quick-sketch caricature artist, the kind you see at an amusement park or event, but I have a great deal of respect for those who are able to fill that role. It’s a difficult skill to master and very different from the type of painting and cartooning that I do. You have to be confident and bold when drawing live, and I’m a tentative obsessive sketcher when I’m drawing people. I don’t mind admitting that I find quick-sketch caricature very difficult and I’d like to become better at it.
When I think of caricature artists that really wow me with their skill, Tom Richmond tops the list. Tom is best known for his MAD magazine work, but he’s done a lot more than that in his long career. Rather than list his accomplishments, take a look at his website and I’ll let his work speak for itself. I’ve written about Tom before on this blog . OK, maybe more than once. What can I say, I’m a fan.
Last week, I received a copy of Tom’s new book “The Mad Art of Caricature: A Serious Guide to Drawing Funny Faces.” People have been nagging him for years to write a book like this, and whether it’s because he got tired of it, or just realized he was ready and made the time, it was well worth the wait. I pre-ordered the book sometime this summer, and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since. I had very high expectations, and Tom’s book surpassed them.
I’ve bought many cartooning and caricature books over the years, and this one is hands-down the best I’ve ever seen. From tutorials on how to draw specific body parts, exaggeration, relationships between facial features…I could go on at great length about all of the wonderful specifics he teaches in this book. It is comprehensive and complete. There are techniques and tutorials in this book that I’ve never seen explained in any other I’ve bought, not to mention valuable insights into how to become better at live or studio caricature work. And content aside, it’s quality printing with beautiful colour, too. Put simply, I would recommend this book to beginners and professionals alike, without reservation.
While reading the book, I just wanted to pick up a pencil and draw. Yes, I draw every day already, and while it’s enjoyable, it’s not often that I get excited about it. I’ve said before that Tom’s work makes me want to be a better artist. I’ve no doubt that his book will teach me how.
To order a copy of your own, here’s the link again. “The Mad Art of Caricature: A Serious Guide to Drawing Funny Faces.”