November 7, 2000
It's election day here in the states and you'd think I'd have taken
advantage of that - plenty of caricature fodder. Well I didn't - but
I'm planning on it soon. (I won't hide behind the "I don't want to
make anybody angry" dodge. That wasn't the reason.) Any way, what
you'll see attached today is the "cover concern" from the October
2000 GQ magazine: actor Kevin Spacey.
The Spacey picture caught my eye while I was waiting at the check out
counter at the grocery store - sometime's magazines offer the most
detailed, most true to likeness, personality capturing photographs.
You can't get them any better unless you're a professional photographer
yourself with that kind of access. (Working from a whole group of tiny,
not-so-great photos doesn't hold a candle to working from one really
good likeness. That's my opinion any way.)
What you're about to see is a pretty rough pencil version. It was supposed to
be realistic but I decided to start taking liberties right away. Before I
tell you what I saw as caricaturable - in the next issue, I'm going to give
you an assignment.
Questions that help get you in the drawing groove
If you're game to do this, go to any of the links below, go through the
following detailed list of questions and verbally answer the questions.
(Write them down or just describe what you see out loud.) Give yourself
a good 20 minutes to do this and have fun with it. Go through each
question and really try to answer it. By going over a list like this
enough, you'll build your own internalized set of observational questions
(questions that can only be answered by really looking at and comparing
parts of the subject.)
On a scale of difficulty, the following list of questions is in the
advanced intermediate range. Don't get discouraged if some of these seem
over your head or are too "weird". Try different ways of proposing each
question if you get stuck - ask "what do I think he's really looking for
here?" It'll make sense if you do that.
(I got all the links below from AltaVista Picture finder - "celebrity
covers" seems to have the majority of the first round of results.)
Try to Answer these: a good solid warm-up list (Print this out for posterity)
1) What's the general feeling / idea you have about the personality of our
subject: happy, sad, indifferent, jaded, cynical, cocky - what's your first
impression. (Doesn't matter if you're right - your interpretation is the
only thing that matters).
2) Can you identify, that is, can you pinpoint what it is in his expression
that gives you that impression? Go right down this list:
Are there lines, wrinkles or furrows on the forehead?
How close are the eye brows to the top of the upper eyelids?
Is there a wrinkle between the eyes - over the nose?
Where's the highlight in the eye?
Does the brow cast a shadow over the any part of the eye?
How extensive are the "crows feet"?
--Can you see a "zig-zag" pattern within them as they course off towards the
Does the lower lid occlude or block out the lower part of the eye? (You'll
see this in smiling people.)
Are there "bags" under the eyes?
--do they link to the crows feet? Follow a line within them with a pencil
until you see how they intertwine.
Are there any especially strong lines or shadows at the corners of the eyes
(either corner - the nose side or the temple side)?
What's the general shape of the nose?
--does it come to a fine point or to a large bulbous tip?
--how does the widest part of the nose line up with the inner corner of the
--can you see the nostrils? or are they either hid by shadows or is the head
tipped in such a way that you just can't see them?
--is there a shadow cast on to the upper lip?
--if so, what's it tell you about the direction of the light?
How does the "naso-labial crease" attach to the nose? (The naso-labial
crease is the skin fold that runs from the upper edge of the nostrils all
the way down and out to the sides of the mouth.
--Are there shadows around the crease that suggest big cheeks?
How many rows of lines and shadow lines can you see between the naso-labial
fold and the fleshiest part of the cheeks? (There's usually three to five.)
Go ahead now, count them! (Yes it can get confusing :-)
Where's the heaviest shadowing in the cheeks? Just above the dimples by
chance? In the dimples?
How does the bottom of the cheeks line up with the bottom of the nose?
What's the general curve of the upper lip?
--is it more of a flat "W" or is it closer to an "M"? (Hint I see a flat "M"
Is there any deep shadowing between the upper and lower lip?
--if so, can you describe it? ("well it's a pretty thin shadow until you get
to the middle and then there's this real deep "U" shape to it").
Where do the two pulpier parts of the lower lip actually contact the upper
How wide is the lower lip in relation to the upper lip?
Is there any strong shadow shape or wrinkle at the corners of the mouth?
How does the shadow under the lip transition from he lower lip to the chin?
--does this shadow contact the chin in this particular instance?
Is there a cleft in the chin?
Does the line that defines the bottom most edge of the chin point back up to
the corners of the mouth or does it drift out towards the dimples? (In this
case I'd say it fairly clearly points back to the corners of the mouth.)
What's the overall shape of the head?
How much "real estate" is there between the hairline and the eyebrows?
Is the shape of the curve of the forehead from hairline to the temples or to
corners of the eyes fairly smooth?
How does the shape of the line progress from the temples down to the cheeks,
the jaw or the jowls - whichever you run into first?
Where do the bottom of the ears start?
--in line with the bottom of the nose? the cheeks? the bottom of the eyes?
Is this due to the tilt of the picture?
Where do the top of the ears end?
How far out do the ears stick? Do they stick out as far as far as the
bulbous part of the nose is wide?
What color is the hair?
--If there's a receding hair line, can you describe in eye widths how far up
Ok, ok, that's enough for now. Was that fun to go through the process?
Without illustrating each question I know it's kind of difficult to always
know what I'm asking (I guess I just assigned myself another "case study"
subject :-) - which by the way we'll get back on with as soon as the
re-launch is over with. Did you find yourself noticing things you wouldn't
have otherwise noticed? Good! Then I've done my job for today. :-)
Links to Kevin Spacey pictures:
So between now and the next "Your Every Other Week Caricature", go through
the list of questions at least 4 times and with 4 different subjects - get
active with it and your observational powers will most definitely grow.
Until then, keep on drawing! (And it's time for me to go vote!)
Kasbohm & Company's
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