Back in the spring, I decided to join the National Caricaturist Network (NCN) in order to meet some of my talented colleagues online and hopefully raise my own profile out there in cyberspace. It's certainly been a fun and rewarding experience, and I'm glad to be getting to know such a great bunch of artists through the member forums. (Unfortunately, you have to be a member to read them, otherwise I'd direct you all there. Sorry!)
Anyway, one of my favourite areas in the forums is "The Firing Squad", where members can post a selection of photos of themselves as fodder for the rest of us to sketch from. It's quite fascinating to see the myriad of variations that result, with each artist interpreting the subject in their own individual way. At this point I have sketched over 50 of my colleagues and posted them in the forum, as it's a lot of fun and keeps me in practice with what I love to do. Here is just a random sampling of some of my fellow NCNers - I'll post some more over the next little while.
Fact is, I really enjoy drawing what people really look like. By that I mean, not just drawing the same generic, cookie-cutter face and body design over and over again, but instead really observing the individual "design" of each person's face and then trying to exaggerate and simplify it into something appealing, while hopefully capturing the essence of their personality as well. I thought it might be a good time to post a montage of these faces on my blog, as I am currently going to be teaching my Sheridan animation students all about "Character Types". In other words, designing a character that somehow communicates to your audience what he or she is all about through the face and body type, essentially doing the same thing in cartoon that a casting director is concerned with when selecting the most appropriate actor to fill a role in a live-action film.
During this first semester at Sheridan, my students are also required to keep an ongoing sketchbook of drawings of actual people they see, but caricaturing the features and bodies as if they were studies for potential animated film characters. I am of the strong belief that by studying what individuals look like, this will hopefully result in them producing character designs that are richer in personality as well as more visually interesting in their variety of shapes and sizes. By posting my own caricatured drawings of these NCN members, I'm hoping this will give my students a clearer understanding of what I am looking for and why. In upcoming posts I will discuss more of the thought process that goes into doing these.