Saturday, June 5, 2010

Books on "how to" draw caricatures

I hate this trend of thousands of artists or aspiring artists trying to become caricaturists. I purchased a few of them this year, and just wrote a review for one on It doesn't go up immediately after writing it, so I don't have the URL yet, but the book can be found at, and here is the text of my review:

Misnomer: this is not a CARICATURING book but a PORTRAIT
book, June 5, 2010

P. Wagner (Minneapolis, MN United States)

Artist's Workbook - Drawing Caricatures (Artist's Workbooks)(Paperback)

Caricatures are NOT portraits! This book does what almost all the new books supposedly/purportedly calling themselves "Caricature" books do: it gives the basic rules for how to draw a realistic PORTRAIT, and then says, "Okay, now just exaggerate the nose or some other feature a little, and VOILA! You have a caricature!"

Not so fast. That is NOT a true caricature at all. Yes, I am guilty of doing some portraits along these lines, and I sometimes refer to them as caricatures for the sake of a shorthand description of them. (See But to write a whole book (well, this is very skinny, maybe I shouldn't call it a whole book) with the basics of portraiture and then call it a book on caricature, is misleading. I appreciate the effort and work it takes to put together a book, but...

If you can't draw funny in a perfectly natural way, without having to resort to a formula, you are not a caricature artist and you are never going to become one. Period. Your brain just isn't wired the right way. Sure, go ahead and try to see if you have some fun, but then do it in a spirit of total humor, not trying to craft some stuffy portrait and then distort it in random ways to hope to arrive at a caricature. To that end, books like this may do you more harm than good. People with basic drawing skills who try to force a caricature are like people with basic public speaking skills who try to suddenly get up on stage and force standup comedy.

You aren't a naturally funny person, you are not going to "learn" to become one, and the "comedy" or caricatures you do will be BAD. You shouldn't be there, you're only making us uncomfortable and ruining the art form for the few who really have an actual gift for it.

1 comment:

  1. Books on how to draw caricatures that are successful and popular end up framing the criteria for what makes a good caricature whether that is their intention or not, which is a shame because it can build a rift between the artists and the customer because everybodys not on the same page then. Maybe.


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