Sketching Subtle Facial Expressions – Master Study Critique

Sketching Subtle Facial Expressions – Master Study Critique

Posted by

Hey. Court Jones here and welcome to the Student
Critique Video for lesson 14 on studying the masters of caricature. Now in the main lesson I had talked a lot
about doing master studies of famous caricaturists for the purpose of improving your own personal
style, so hoping the master artist’s style will influence the look of your own drawings. But it actually goes beyond that. I was really hoping the main point of the
lesson that you’d get would be that doing master studies, when it comes to caricature,
is a little different than when you study, you know, a traditional artist. And when you do caricature studies of artists
you admire, what I’m hoping you’ll get out of it is actually helping you to figure out
how they exaggerated, what their exaggeration choices were, how they made these wacky choices
be so amazingly successful. Because if you’re like me, you know, you have
a certain way of doing things, a certain road or a path you stay on and you evolve over
time slowly, but you sometimes see an artist’s work you just are amazed at what they did
and you wonder how they did it. Well, when you do a study of their work, when
you break it down, when you block it in, do a sketch of it, and then try to finish it
to a rendering, you get inside their head a little bit and hopefully a little bit of
what makes them who they are will rub off on you. Not that you want to be a clone of them or
draw exactly like them, but I just want these master artists to have a good effect on you. And the more of these studies you do from
various artists, the more you’ll sort of pick up. So you don’t want to add to their exaggeration,
you don’t want to distort things or caricature them even more, you want to just get from
them what they put into the drawing and take that back with you. You don’t want to add your own statement to
theirs. So some artists have a little bit of trouble
doing that and some troubles with accuracy. At the end of the video I’ll talk about some
of the traits in common people had when they were doing these studies. So anyway let’s take a look at some work and
see what we can find out what people did. All right, and here we have Danilo Hokama
Goveia’s, study of Euan Mactavish’s, Burt Reynolds. It looks like Euan’s work is on the left here
and there wasn’t a photo reference posted with this in the original Facebook post so
I just found my own Burt Reynolds’ photo just to give people sense of what he looks like
even though it’s not the exact same angle. I see here Euan’s original sketch and Euan’s
painting. And what you’ve done is actually do a line
drawing, like an ink style drawing of it and that’s fine. And, in fact, I do encourage people to do
more drawn studies of other people’s work rather than attempting paintings before they’re
ready. But that said, your ink drawing, your lines
are a little stiff, a little bit lifeless and there are some general problems on the
small scale with how you render the features and the forms. Some forms are more exaggerated and distorted
in your sketch, and some are sort of under exaggerated, or under indicated, or simplified,
I might say, like with Burt Reynolds’ eyes here. So if you take a look at your eye compared
to the eye in Euan’s drawing it’s just a little bit simplified, and I guess that’s perhaps
just your style. But I would try to get a little bit more naturalistic
feeling and you can do that with your line quality and also just the subtlety of the
shapes that you draw, just a little bit more… slightly more complexity to them, not overly
complex. Because, you know, Euan has a style that’s…well,
he is simplifying the forms quite a bit and redrawing them in his own language sort of
in the style of like the way David O’Keeffe does where he redesigns more graceful shapes
than are in the original sketch or that are in the original photo reference, I should
say. So think about that too, think about that where
you want to put curved lines next to straight lines. Perhaps is not that clear from my overdrawing
just because there’s a lot of complex shapes. But what I’m trying to show you with this
is how you render the individual lines and the strokes that you do, since you’re working
with ink in a real limited fashion, every single line you do matters even more than
it does in something like the original painting that Euan did or the original sketch because
he has a lot more lines and shadows and half tons of things to work with. When you have such a limited line language
like this, when you’re drawing more like Hirschfeld does, every line matters and you have to put
a lot more thought into what you do because there’s less there for the viewer to latch
on to. So everything that you do is an indication
of body type, of the shape of the feature or if someone’s angular or rounded. All those things are gonna have to be really
clear in your line drawing. Is this a rounded form? Is this a straight form? You know, can the lines be designed any more
gracefully than what I’ve done or do they feel sort of non-committal and haphazard and
a little sloppy? In line drawing, you can’t be super sloppy
unless that’s your particular style you’re working towards, like a jittery line, sort
of like the artist John Cuneo or Cuneo, has a really fun ink style that’s almost like
done with a trembling hand but it’s done consistently and it’s intentional. It’s part of his look and his style. Where someone like Tom Richmond, has an ink
style that’s a lot more deliberate and more controlled lines where there’s thick, where
there’s thin lines, and the lines are very well designed. So you want to decide what kind of ink artist
you want to be and work towards that and be more careful about how you lay in your lines. That being said, I’m not sure if I mentioned
you did get a good likeness on him though and you could tell it’s Burt Reynolds. It’s a pretty reasonable approximation
of what the original artist did. Just watch out that you’re not exaggerating
the forms or distorting them more than the original. You know, I can see his…another thing that
just jumps out at me right now is his cheek on the far side on Euan’s original drawing
is much more of a graceful question mark shape, you know, sort of a curved shape and you’ve
got these compound lines here where it’s sort of like one, two, three, four, five and it’s
just sort of broken up and the contours are exaggerated. Whereas in reality you want to do something
a little bit more graceful and simple leading in from the cheek down to the chin. So just little things like that. It’s just about subtlety, it’s about, you
know, paying attention to those smaller details. Because they’re small in their details but
they add up and they multiply on one another to create, overall, an effect that drifts away
further and further from the original that you’re trying to replicate. Here’s another study that Danilo did of Mactavish,
sketch of John Dillinger. Good likeness. Again, you’re doing that sort of stiff
ink drawing style and, you know, I do kind of like the way this one’s going. This feels a little bit more deliberate than the Burt Reynolds. The lines feel more controlled like you have more
of a vision for what you’re trying to achieve. Mactavish’s original sketch is a little bit
more organic, more sketchy and yours is reduced to just simple lines and that’s totally okay. But just, like I said, with the other Burt
Reynolds sketch you have to really pay attention to the quality of each line where it’s thin,
where it’s thick, where it’s straight, where it’s curved. It’s a challenging
way to work, you know, if you’re not just doing a pencil sketch replication of someone’s
work but actually redesigning them into your own brand of inking, that’s sort of a…it’s
a tough task you’re giving yourself. If that wasn’t your intention, if you weren’t
trying to redefine this Mactavish caricature into your own visual language if that’s just
the way you work, maybe think, you know, about going back to a pencil look where you’re drawing
more organically and more sketchy the way the original artist did and try to replicate
that as best you can. But that’s just, you know, just a suggestion
it’s not really necessary to the exercise. I think you overall did a really good job
and captured the look of the original sketch and got the likeness. It’s just, you know, I don’t see all the same
kind of structure because you’re using different visual language than the original artist did
so I don’t see the half tones or…you know, you got some of the half tones indicated with
cross-hatching lines but then there are other places where like, you know on the left side
of the face you have cross-hatch shading on your sketch. But on the right side you’re missing that
cross-hatching because, you know, the artist didn’t do it in the original but there is
sort of a painted half tone in there that you could be using your own ink lines to define
those plane changes and you’re not, so it feels a little incomplete maybe in that respect
on your study. And here, Danilo went the extra step and actually
created a new original caricature in the style of Euan Mactavish using the lessons he learned
from doing those studies to create his own original. And that’s great, this is the complete assignment
that I was hoping everyone would do. Now it suffers from that same problem though,
that I mentioned earlier with you translating a likeness into simple ink lines. And I have a lot of experience doing live
quick sketch caricatures, which is what this is similar to as far as the level of completion,
where it’s just bold black outlines. And you have some wrinkles and a few other
details in there that I maybe wouldn’t do in quick sketch, but it’s hard to tell if
you are actually creating Euan’s style in this ink drawing way. You may, like I said, want to explore pencil
sketching and rough sketching rather than doing a ink style drawing. So with that being said, pretty reasonably
good likeness of Mr. Hong. This is character actor James Hong, been in
a lot of movies, funny guy, a really good look too. And overall, he did a good job. It’s just that I think some of the features
could use a little bit of work like the nose and the eyes, don’t quite feel like this actor’s
nose and eyes. It might be because you’re just reducing the
forms into really simple almost abstract lines and it could use a little bit more description,
a little bit more shading, a little bit more cross-hatching, that might help. But the eyes, especially, I think,
are lacking sort of the quality of the original actor’s shapes. If I were to do a quick tracing, you know,
I could show you what I mean. So I see Mr. Hong’s eye on the right is more
open than the one on the left, it has a more graceful curving arc whereas you made it sort
of squared off. And you’re also missing the quality of his
epicanthic fold, it doesn’t quite look like his eyelid. And if you’re going to do the winkles from the eyes his wrinkles aren’t very prominent
in this photo because of the lighting. But I would connect them to the corners of
the eyes rather than having the wrinkles just floating out in space. That’s sort of a design choice but it makes
it look a little bit more intentional rather than just having them sort of randomly floating
in the middle of the form. You can see almost all of the pupil and iris
because opening he’s opening his eye quite a bit. And then because he is raising…his eye’s
open because he’s raising that eyebrow in the right and you can raise your eyebrow a
little bit higher too in your original sketch. He has a pretty thinly spaced hairs on his
eyebrows, they are not very heavy. Just keep that in mind too, that you’re trying
to capture the quality of this person’s features and not just their shape and placement but
how they’re actually…how they’re specific to him. Because of the lighting…the lighting is
coming from the right there’s more of a shadow on the left here. If you are working with lines here, if you
don’t want to do too much actual, you know, shading and keep it simple just think about
how you would represent that lighting with the simple ink style. Personally, I would actually drop down the nose a little
bit more. I mean, I like the long philtrum you gave
him, the long upper lip and we have to lower the lower face to make that still work with
a longer nose. I just feel like you gave him too short of
a nose for his facial type. I think a longer nose is in order. But that’s just me, that’s my own personal
opinion on the exaggeration, doesn’t mean I’m right and that’s the only way to do it. I’m just reacting to what I see here in this
particular situation. So I’m not gonna redraw the whole face just
a little portion here, just some of the problem areas I was seeing. Just keep that in mind when you’re doing
your own drawings. Once you’ve got the big shapes figured out, the placement of everything, then you have to focus on the quality of each feature and how each one is
rendered, where the thin lines are, where the thick lines are. And then the shape of each feature, where
the high point is of that eyelid, where the low point is, you know, how much of the iris
or the pupil can you see, what it’s the quality of the eyebrows, all those things I went over. It’s really important in caricature to get
those things figured out especially when you’re using such a simple visual language like this
pen and ink style because you have so few lines to describe, to tell the viewer who
this is, and what their physicality is like. Also one more thing, I wanted to go over a
list of several other caricature artists who we didn’t get a chance to study in the main
lesson or in the premium videos, but they definitely deserve your attention or a look
if you don’t know who they are. I wanted to expose you to some new artists
that you might find inspiring as well. Someone you could take a look at is John Kascht,
did a lot of illustration work over the years. He has a really graceful, beautiful watercolor
style. And then there’s Dan Adel, who’s an illustrator
and portrait artist who, he doesn’t exaggerate a whole lot but his editorial work, the bodies
and situations that he does with his caricatures are just phenomenal and tell a great story. He’s really inspiring to look at. Mort Drucker, the legendary “MAD” magazine
artist who really started it all and was the inspiration for a lot of us. You definitely need to be familiar with Mort’s
work. Jason Seiler, probably one of the best caricature
illustrators working today. His paintings, his portraits, his illustrations
are all really great to look at. A really nice guy and you’ll appreciate his
work. I’m sure you all know it already. Bruce Stark, is more of a classic character
illustrator guy from back in the day and he has a lot of great stuff that has a sort of
a “MAD” magazine feeling but really inspiring watercolors. Just take a look at his work,
you won’t regret it. Dominic Philibert, is another artist an illustrator
whose work is just amazing, just tremendous exaggerations and his paintings are so realistic
while at the same time being expressive and highly exaggerated. Tom Fluharty, is another caricature illustrator
you should take a look at. His paintings are just phenomenal, his drawings
and sketches will just blow your mind and really fun stuff. David Cowles or Cowles, not really quite sure
how to say his last name, more of an abstract caricature artist, but there’s a lot that
you can learn from the abstract artists even if you’re not working on that particular style. It’s actually a lot harder in many ways than
doing traditional drawings. So definitely take a look at David’s work
for some inspiration. Herman Mejia, is another artist whose work
you should check out. His water colors are great, and he even does…has
done some sculpted caricatures that are just phenomenal. Steve Brodner, is another artist you should
look at, does a lot of political editorial caricatures, with a really unique visual language
that he puts into his work and they’re very simple and just so so effective. Jota Leal, is a caricature fine artist whose
work I think was originally inspired a lot by Kruger, but now he’s really gone off and
done his own thing and his caricatures are just super unique, and really really inspiring
to look at. John Cuneo or Cuneo, I love his work. He does a lot of pen and ink and watercolor
work that has just such a particular and unique style that’s a little messy, a little sketchy,
but that’s what I really like about that. He does that sloppy sort of style really well. Then there’s Xi Ding, who’s a Chinese born
caricaturist living in Austria whose paintings are just phenomenal. He does a range of styles but more lately
he’s been getting into doing simplified anime or animation style caricatures. But his lighting and the techniques he uses
to build his paintings are really something to check out. And then there’s of course historical caricature
artists, artists who aren’t around anymore like Al Hirschfeld, who was sort of the main
caricaturist of the 20th century. His simple really just elegant line work was
the inspiration for a lot of artists getting into caricature. And going back a little further there was
a French artist Daumier, who did a lot of editorial work back in the, I think it was
in the 1900s or 19th century and did a lot of sculpted caricatures too of different character
types and they’re just so fun and really cool. And then there’s the famous French impressionist
Claude Monet, who in his early days did caricatures for money on the side, I guess, but he was
really good at them. Kind of wish he’d actually stuck more with
caricature, he could have gone really far with that. So there’s a lot more that I’m not mentioning
that I’ve probably forgotten. And forgive me if there’s artists you like
that I didn’t bring up, but that’s just a few that I think you should check out if you
don’t know, you should really know their work because they’re true modern masters of caricature. So that’s just a quick taste, a sampling of what the premium students get. In the premium version of this critique video, I go over a lot more students’ works where they study master caricatures. Some of the problems I noticed in common with the students doing these studies is that the drawing wasn’t done carefully enough. That they seemed to maybe rush through that to get to the painting or to get to the inking or whatever the finished medium was. And there were inaccuracies and distortions or just outright exaggerations on top of the original caricature. And for this exercise, I want you to think of it more like a portrait exercise where you’re trying to capture exactly what the reference material is. It’s just that in this case the reference material is someone’s caricature. I just don’t want you to add to it or distort it accidentally. What you’re supposed to do with these is figure out what the original artist was thinking, how they made their exaggeration choices. And by going through the same motions, by drawing those shapes yourself, hopefully some of that intuition will be absorbed by you so that you can regurgitate that… incorporate some of that into your own original caricature work. Thanks for joining me. Thanks for watching. And thanks for everybody for submitting their
master studies. It’s pretty challenging and most of you did
a really good job. The drawing really is what matters, it’s all
about drawing. Really with every lesson that should be the
main point, is drawing, but this one especially too. Because accuracy is really a concern when
doing master studies. But I hope you had fun with it and I’ll see
you next time.


  1. Court, even though you're basically a rectangle, I wanna thank you for the work you're doing here.

    I never knew much about caricature (nor I do now) and I never even considered making some, but you really changed my point of view. Now I feel like I enjoy it way more than before, I've started thinking differently about drawing in general, making new choices while drawing, noticing subtle details I'd have always missed, seeing the whole picture, and on top of that, I'm really having fun with caricature.

    I felt I at least owned you these words.

  2. Nice video! It's very hard to tell how valuable the amazing gallery of renowned caricature artists is. All of them have contributed their particular style, technique and talent to this important form of art.

  3. Man l wish I could avoid stiffness when it comes to caricature, some of mistakes are quite complex Wich makes theme very difficult to fix.

  4. For me the biggest challenge is to do a caricature of a very average person, when you look at the eyes, mouth, nose, etc and everything is pretty much average is difficult to know what to exagerate.

  5. YouTubers Will Terrell and Brandon Green have great character style… don’t know if you have seen their work.

  6. awesome tips! More masters from Portugal to check out: Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, Leal da Câmara, José Vilhena, Cid cartoons, André Carrilho. Thanks.

  7. You didn't mention him but Chris Wahl is another artist who does fantastic caricatures. He's my favorite!

  8. When introducing famous caricaturists it's funny how you only mention the place of birth when you talk about Xi Ding. Also a form of unintentional racism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *