I’m sure many people who draw caricatures will agree with me when I say that drawing someone who has attractive features is so much harder than drawing someone who has, shall we say, unique features. When someone has distinctive attributes, such as big, bushy eyebrows like Martin Scorsese, or a recognizable hairstyle like Conan O’Brien, it’s easier to launch an illustration from those areas. When you have someone like George Clooney, who by most standards is an attractive man with handsome features, it’s more of a struggle. He was, after all, named “Sexy’s Man Alive” a couple of times by People magazine. If I’m going to draw his caricature by pushing and pulling facial features, how am I going to do it so he remains instantly recognizable?
With all my caricatures, I have to look at various photographs of the person for inspiration. I scour the images looking for something that will stand out and give me the creative jump start that I’m looking for. It could be a hairstyle, a shape to the nose, the way someone smiles, or a turn of the head that will show an overall shape that I hadn’t seen before. With George (I feel like I can call him George now), I couldn’t find that inspiration in photographs and went to YouTube to find an interview with him. I wanted to see his gestures and his mannerisms. I’ve seen his movies and I’ve seen interviews with him, but what was it that made him recognizable to me aside from knowing who he is?
I started with his hair. He has perfect hair. It’s perfectly cut, perfectly combed and hardly thinning at all. Damn him! I knew that wasn’t going to be enough. I moved to studying the overall shape of the head and one thing stood out to me . . . the chin. There it was in all its glory. A large, protuberant, Superman-esque chin. After drawing that, I began to get inspired at what was happening with the caricature. Next it was on to the eyes, because if the eyes aren’t right, it’s hard to pull off a convincing caricature. I noticed that his slant slightly, really squint when he smiles, are set wider apart and are topped by dark, bushy eyebrows. Wow, I hope I’m not going to give him a complex. Putting all these pieces of the puzzle together, I really saw George coming together, yet one thing was still missing. It sort of looked like him, but something still wasn’t right. Watching some more of the interview, it hit me. It was the tilt of the head that I needed. That little gesture took the caricature from just a drawing that looked like George Clooney to one that made it feel like George Clooney.
After another spin of the big Oscar wheel, tomorrow’s caricature will be Brad Pitt.
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