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Part IV : Masses of the Head and Caricaturing the Caricature

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Click on any part of the face to go to that section

The Block head view

This next picture demonstrates the blockhead view - remember it? Go back and check it out if it's looking a little foreign. I have no side view to work from I'm just imagining what a side view or a 3/4 view might look like. I'm gathering that from what I know about the front view: the under bite, the strong jaw, the bulbous  nose. Is this an accurate picture? I'm not sure. A little bit on the right track. But more important I'm forcing myself to think in three dimensions. It's a great mental exercise. I want you to try this some time too. 

Conjuring up a 3-d side view

The four main masses of the face

Do you recall the four main masses of the front of the face? Allow me to repeat them. They're the forehead, the cheekbones, the maxilla and the jaw. (The nose is kind of final touch. We're more concerned with the underlying masses here. ) The masses all correspond to the main bones of the face. The last mass you see here is the rest of the skull. I know we're getting into s fair amount of depth (and I know I keep saying that), but I can't say it enough: the more you know of what lies under the surface, the more you'll recognize, the more you'll actually and truly see. And if you can see it, you can draw it. 

This next picture is a straight-on shot. Again, it's a sort of block head view. Can you see pick out the masses? (Forehead, maxilla, cheekbones, jaw.)

A "Block face" rendering

Next look at a more stylized and caricatured three-dimensional front view of the same masses. These are actually extrapolated  from the fourth pencil drawing in the "Our comparisons drawings" below.    By adding a little thickness to the otherwise flat appearing planes you see in the illustration just above,  you get more of that three-d effect. Do you kind of see it?  Scroll  up and down until you do. 

Slightly exaggerated  frontal view "Blockfaces"

Ramping up to actually exaggerating! 

All this is building up to do one thing: exaggerate! Are these all the steps I go through when I draw at party ? Consciously no. But at home I do. And I review it every time I draw. So when you do get to a gig  this stuff is so well internalized your unconscious mind sees it effortlessly for you. You'll find yourself saying in a very scholarly voice to yourself "Ah yes, there's the triangularis and the orbicularis oris coming together just under the primary dimple in front of the body of the mandible of the right cheek"  Or something very close to that. You may not say those exact words, but you'll have learned to look beneath the surface with your developing x-ray eyes. 

You're now a high powered "CAT Scan" machine

Like a high powered cat-scan machine you'll know why a curve or a shadow or  a hollow looks the way it does on anybody's face. And that simple curve, line or shadow just might be the very thing that makes your caricature hit the nail, really capture your subject's unique look, be "the Bomb". I'm serious! It's subtleties that make every face so unique. How did Leonard Bernstein answer when asked  " How does an unknown get to play Carnegie Hall?" His answer? "Practice." With practice you'll see it. 

Taking off on what we've discovered: 
summarizing all of our findings....

We've gone through a lot of steps here so lets recap what we've discovered. Here it is in a table: 

The overall shape 
of the head

Compared to Mr. Average Hef is  is upside down. 
  • the greatest mass of Mr. Hefner's face is below the eyes. 
  • Hef's cranium fits entirely within the boundaries of that of Mr. Average: it's smaller;

In relation to
the horizontal 

With both Hef and Mr. Average lined up horizontally dead center on the middle of the eye line we find...
  • the body of Hef's nose lands above the bottom of the nose line (which again lies 2/5ths the distance down the distance between the middle of the eyes and the bottom of the chin)  
  • the long nasal septum travels below Mr. Average's bottom of nose line;
  • Hef's mouth lines up above Mr. Average's middle of the mouth line, 
  • The bottom of the chin lines of both line up quite nicely.

In relation to the 
vertical guidelines

  • Hef's eyes are the traditional one eye width apart - but appear narrower. 
  • The width of the nose at it's widest  is more than one eye width wide. (Mr. Average's nose remains within the vertical lines drawn down from the middle most corner of each eye - thus are equal to or less than one eye width wide.) 
  • The width of the mouth is wider than the distance between the  middle of both pupils, i.e. the corners of the mouth pass outside lines drawn straight down from the middle of the pupils.

Individual features

Eyes: down sloping ;

Nose: bulbous tip with a long septum, the bulbous tip being by far the largest mass of the nose;

Mouth: the shared line between the upper and lower lip is a wide and flat "M" with big upturns at it's corners;

Cheeks: well defined with an angular :naso-labial fold;

Jowls: out curving with many  layers of dimples;

Chin: big, square-ish with  an under bite;

Hair: thinning, drawable with a minimum of lines;

Ears: Not a whole lot said, dominated by  other features noted . 

Bony and muscular hints

  • As you saw in the deeper anatomy analysis, certain muscles cause strong folds and wrinkles: e.g. the naso-labial fold, the different layers of dimples, etc.
  • the bones underneath suggest the overall shape of the face and head. They're the frame, the substructure. And if you try to imagine what they look like, feel their presence, (a la Mr. Blockhead), they can really inform your overall understanding of the volumes of the face and the softer tissue attachments. ("Soft tissue" is everything other than bone like skin, fat and muscle.)

Subtle differences

Now all of these differences are more or less subtly different from Mr. Average. But all faces are subtly different. It's just the miracle of our power of recognition that makes all faces so different.  As you've seen, it's details that make all of us unique. 

Time to toy with our exaggerations

The rest of this page is devoted to a bunch of quick sketch  renderings - each a little different from the other - and not all of them glamorous. All generally building off the things that are listed in the table above. I'll also list next to each sketch what's most different from the starting point. Really challenge yourself to find those differences and look for other differences  that might be apparent when compared to those things  listed above. 

Revisiting 24 May 2000's archived 
progression series: 

All exaggerations you'll see below  build off the following foursome of Mr. Hefner as sent in the 24 May 2000 Your Every Other Week Caricature progression series. (See the Archives to see the original accompanying e-mail) Right after this you'll see the newest exaggerations. All were quick sketches done on a rare rainy L.A. March  2001  afternoon. On with it!

The old 24 May 2000 sketches:

Our comparison models


The latest...

So here we go, building as faithfully  as I can on all the drawings and findings up to this moment in time. Look close, compare each picture to the one before and after, write a list of  the main anatomical features and identify them in each picture. Judge and sight their proportion and dimension in each. OK, go for it! 

Here's a short list of things to look for

the overall shape of head
the hair
the forehead
the bony brow
the eyebrows, 
the sphere of the eyeballs
the "bags" under the eyes
the ears
the nose

The horizontal guidelines

the naso-labial fold
the philtrum
the lips
the shadow beneath the lip
the chin
the jowls
the dimples - all layers of them, look for muscle hints 
the neck

The vertical guidelines

OK ...let's go...our first quick sketch: 

  • Shrunk the forehead and slanted the eyes,
  • amplified the jaw,
  • raised the height of the hair,
  • widened the jowls,
  • made the nose even pointier.
  • Overall made too fat and squat



  • Shrunk forehead even more, 
  • lowered the hair, 
  • nose even bigger, 
  • widened and lowered jowls still more,
  • recovered  under bite effect of lips wrapping around lip line.
  • Overall: still too squat



  • More narrowing of forehead and heightening of hair,
  • lost the down sloping of the eyebrows,
  • widened the lip line,
  • Overall: I like this one better but he's too young and with the lowered hairline, and less down sloped eyes, looks like some one else.



Very quick sketch experimenting with dropped and widened jowls - I hit something here that grabbed me and I'll run with this effect to the end. It's the low, flat bottomed jowls that seem to be doing the trick. 



  • Skinnify the head again,
  • gave a huge nose,
  • lost the low jowl effect,
  • gave a little slant back to the eyes and eye brows as well as the bony brow,
  • back light effect in Photoshop (nice effect, eh?)
  • Overall: getting cartoonish - kinda of fun and I love that background!



  • Back to the low jowls,
  •  skinnier forehead,
  • smaller nose, 
  • approaching an  Eiffel tower look here,
  • huge chin,
  • long and skinny neck
  • Overall: this is the look I think I was looking for



Yes, this is the look I want. I couldn't put my finger on it before but this is the look I felt in my gut a long time ago: 
  • Back to the low wide jowls, 
  • bigger nose,
  • slanted eyes, (even thought the brows are horizontal 
  • It's the Eifel Tower effect That's what makes this work for me.



  • More Eiffel tower effect, 
  • hit the slant of the eyebrows and eyes right on, 
  • look at the angles of the mouth - compare to the picture above, 
  • flat jowls are here to stay,
  • too much hair and forehead,
  • no neck :-)



  • Kind of mousy, wouldn't you say? 
  • Question: What's different about the mouth and eyes?
  •  Answer: mouth is tiny and the eyes are getting relatively huge



Quick inspiration: feels to me like the right ingredients; really big nasal septum, "W" / "M" lip line working well, good under bite, wide chin, huge flat jowls, we're getting real cartoony here. I like it even though he's missing his left (our right) cheek!





This and the next (final), sketch are really hitting it for me. Someday when I have a little more time, I'll really run with this look - I'll put it in a light box or project it on a large canvas and paint it in as realistically as 
I can.


Next...and lastly...

As far as pursuing the cartoon look goes, this one takes the cake. Compare the vicinity of the the features in this version compared to the one just above - look also at the shape of the mouth.

Seems to me it's the under bite that makes the mouth work and not so much the "W" shape of the lip line. 

The Eiffel tower look and the low wide flat jowls make it work as well. 


Final notes

It's interesting to me that it was accidents that made the picture work (the flat jowls, the Eiffel tower look) I didn't think about it, it was just kind of a lucky instinct that came from experimenting. Still, without all the homework we did first, I don't think I'd  have come up with those inspirations. 

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