18 December 2002
Your December 18th, 2002
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Kwansa -
Happy Holidays from YouCanDraw.com!
Well howdy folks,
I know you're very busy with all the holiday stuff going on, but take a second, kick up
your feet, give yourself a little 5 minute break - honor your commitment to your
burgeoning new (or old) hobby, art, and pursuit of drawing faces and caricatures :-)
Today's caricature is of Santa Pablo Picasso Claus. (A.k.a. Picasso. ) We all know
Pablo as one of the best known artists of the 20th century and today he's our lucky
What makes him caricaturable?
We'll dive right in here. I think the first thing that strikes me about Picasso are the big
dark eyes. They're round, dark with big highlights (at least big highlights in the picture
he was drawn from - and big highlights seem to add a sparkle to any subject's personality).
A note on perspective and the three-quarter view
This picture is drawn in the three quarter view. Take a pencil or a ruler right now and
compare the distance the middle of the eyes rest to what you deem as the center of
the nose. What do you notice? Did you notice the right eye (the eye on the left side of
the picture) is both bigger than the other eye and farther from the center of the nose?
This is an effect of perspective: the farther something is away from you, the smaller
it looks. The far eye is, well farther away so it ought to be smaller. Makes sense?
I know, pretty basic stuff but a point of lots of trouble in beginning drawings because
very few people have "reference pictures" of the three-quarter view stored away in their
"easy-access" memory. Most people have those straight-on, front view pictures stored
away. (And it's getting past referencing anything stored and learning to see what's directly
in front of you that's the objective of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (DRSB)
The same could be said of the nose - it too is rotated in a three-quarter view. Pro-
proportionately, Mr. Pablo has a good chuck of a nose with a rather bulbous tip and a
broad base. Note the direction of light and shadow across the nose - do you get any
hints bout the source of the light? (Did you say coming from above and from the right?
Well you're right on the money.)
The next feature...
Mr. P. has a very prominent "apron of the upper lip". What the heck is that? (the
apron thing?). That's the fleshy expanse of skin that spans the entire area between the
cheeks and the "naso-labial folds" [naso-labial folds? - the skin folds that run from
the sides of the nose almost to the jaws] and of course on down to the upper lip.
The lips and mouth
The lips could have been drawn large or small (as they are here) and I think either
would have worked. I think I would have drawn them tightly together if drawn large or
small (have you ever seen Picasso photographed with his mouth open?).
With a face dominated by eyes, nose, and "apron of upper lip", the rest of the face
can be played down a little bit - at least that's the approach I took here. So the chin
can be squished in pretty successfully under the mouth with a good result.
Also note the hollows of the cheeks - Picasso has a strong jaw and angular face
with a broad forehead typical of the stocky "mesomorphic" types of Catalan Spain (that
"meso" word means muscular). The hollows are best represented by shadows in this
Comparing the guides of the head to those of Mr. Average
Overall proportions of the head: note how much real estate is contributed by the
face above the horizontal axis of the eyes - not a whole lot. On Mr. Average, what's
the proportion of the head above and below the middle of the eye line? Right, the
middle of the eye line is the horizontal center of the face. You can see here the
majority of the face is emphasized below this line. (Versus a Larry King or a Billie
Bob Thornton who have very prominent foreheads.)
Overall, the head is drawn rather squarish - you could probably draw Picasso with
a much more elongated face and jowl, or given him a huge nose, or made his eyes
the center of attraction, the dominant feature occupying your whole dang page of
drawing paper. (I actually came across a caricature on the web that was all nose
and eyes - once I knew it was Picasso it made sense).
So there's lots of possibilities in the ways you can approach an exaggeration. Me,
personally I like to start by capturing a realistic caricature first, then working out
A word on cross-hatching
Cross-hatching may appear tedious - and it is in the beginning - but it can give so
many amazing results. Look at the side of the nose, look into the darkest shadow
and notice the layers of darkness. Also note the directionality of the lines: they
tend to follow the contour of the face. How to get that directionality? Think of a sphere.
Can you picture the curve of it's edge? Now picture in your brain the shadow side of
the sphere. If the strongest hatches mirror and parallel the curve of the nearest edge
they strengthen the feeling of the volume for that surface. Does that make sense?
Maybe I ought to do a communiqué on that. (Send me a note if that might interest
you - just say "hatching lesson - yes" or something to that effect.)
Look around the face and look for the different topography of the face and ask
if the hatching adds to edifying the underlying shapes (sorry, went "high" brow
on ya with the "edifying" :-)
The hatching works through most of the picture (the hatching and volumes). There's
one area where once the picture was shrunk, I can see it doesn't really work though (the
original drawing was about 11 inches tall from shoulder to top of Santa hat).
That trouble area: the left side of the mouth (on the right side of the picture just above
the end of the paint brush). Notice how the hatching goes down as you move left to
right across the picture? The mirror image would have worked a little better - and would
have transitioned more accurately with the lines that run from the cheek to the near
horizontal lines of the apron of the upper lip. See what I mean?
This picture was drawn with one of those dime store Paper Mate yellow #2 mechanical
pencils (get a dozen for about 3 dollars) and drawn on Grumbacher "Paper for Pens".
The smooth surface of this kind of paper allows a much darker line to be drawn
using even a light #2 pencil. (Kind of a happy accident.)
The original picture can be found here (a great link with several really good photos) :
Hey, I found that caricature that was all eyes and nose (though not as much as I
remember it to be :-):
To explore more on Picasso and a whole cargo ship of his art work, go to Google,
type in "Picasso" and click on "images" - it's amazing how much of his art is
viewable on the net.
That's it for today, oh, one very last thing: busy as you are I dare you to try to fit in a
15 minute drawing session a day for the next week - bet you can fit it in.
Until next time, have a great Holiday all!
Warmly, (and I mean warmly if winter is arriving at wherever you may be :-o)