Saturday, September 27, 2008

Variety Is The Key!



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.

11 comments:

Gustav said...

These are awesome! could I join? I want to work on making betteer caricatures!

Pete Emslie said...

Hi Gustav. Anybody can join with a membership fee. I've just now added The National Caricaturist Network as a link for easier access. (I should have done that ages ago!)

Gustav said...

I could never afford one of these things but thanks anyway! I'll join whenever I can pay!

vhpayes said...

these are great!

idragosani said...

I just joined NCN also and have learned a lot on the forums... some amazing talent on that site!

Deniseletter said...

Hello Peter,Good drawings!could you put some of the photos of these people to compare an learn?

Oswald Iten said...

these are great, as always! I'm really amazed how you manage to "exaggerate and simplify it into something appealing". Whenever I try to make a caricature look appealing, I end up toning everything down infinitely.

Nancy said...

I had no idea such an organization existed. Do you have meetings, or is it solely net-based? and are the people professional artists, or hobbyists?
Guess I'd better visit the site and find out!
Oh, and I tell my students to find story material for characters in their own lives, even though the setting might be a place they've never visited. It keeps things fresher.

Pete Emslie said...

Denise - I appreciate your interest and have just posted a demo in answer to your request. Thanks!

Nancy - I've added the link now for NCN, so you can easily access the main site. Though there are no regular meetings throughout the year that I'm aware of, they do have a big convention every November, this year in Raleigh NC. I'd love to attend it myself, but I'd feel wrong about missing the Sheridan classes for that week. I gather that members who live within close proximity to each other tend to meet informally when they can, and there's a Canadian contingent, mostly in the GTA. There seems to be a good mix of both pros and hobbyists in the membership, and the forums are a lot of fun. I highly recommend joining!

Adam Pockaj said...

These are amazing! They're pretty twisted compared to the ones you did of us. I like the more exaggerated ones, though more insulting to the subject they may be...

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Great caricatures, Pete!

Just out of curiosity, is the caricature of the older gentleman on the middle-left Doug Crane? 'Cause it looks just like him!