The Thumbnail Sketch – Caricature Drawing

The Thumbnail Sketch – Caricature Drawing

Hello. Welcome to part two of Caricature Drawing
Fundamentals. In this lesson, we’re going to start putting
the principles of exaggeration into use and learn some different ways you can find out
the caricature techniques that work best for you. First, it’s important to know that there
are probably a million different ways you can caricature a person and still get a great
and funny likeness. There is never just one right way. A great caricature can appear highly realistic
and three dimensional, done with just a few simple lines, or even be more abstract.How
you render it is entirely up to you, and I encourage you to experiment with different
styles. My intention with these lessons is to give
you the core principles, which you can apply to any style of drawing. But of course, I demonstrate drawing caricatures
with an emphasis on realistic anatomy and rendering forms three dimensionally, because
that’s the way that I prefer to work. How to begin: Thumbnail sketchingThe big secret
of good caricature drawing is that it doesn’t take place over a single sketch. It’s a process of development and experimentation
over several stages. In my experience, I find that the best way
to begin is to start by doodling small, loose, quick pencil sketches. What most artists would call thumbnail sketching
or concept sketching. I usually start pretty small so that I can
move quickly from one concept sketch to another, not getting emotionally invested in any single
drawing. Each new quick sketch that I do, I try to
change the size relationships on the face. On one sketch, I might do a long thin head
shape, on another; I might try a shorter or triangular shaped head. There are many people whose heads can be exaggerated
in a wide variety of different shapes. You won’t know how many, until you try. At this stage, the goal is to exaggerate as
much as possible and to not repeat yourself. Variety and experimentation is key. You have to push it as far as you can in this
stage, so that you can figure out what works and what doesn’t. A mantra that I repeat to myself over and
over while drawing like this is: How far can I take it? Or How far can I push it and still maintain
a likeness? The Process:
Here are the steps I usually follow when drawing caricature thumbnail sketches: I start with
the big shape of the head, rather than with the facial features, since that’s the method
that aligns most closely with my core beliefs about drawing and caricature. Which is: get the big idea down on the paper
first, and work from the big shapes down to the smaller ones. Don’t try to figure out the details before
you have the overall structure figured out. The head shape will determine where everything
else goes and how exaggerated the final image will be. So the head shape needs to be bold and decisive. And don’t worry about failing or making
a bad drawing. If you create a lot of bad caricature sketches,
at this stage, you are actually on the right path. That means that you are experimenting and
making bold decisions. Helpful Hint #1: Squint! Since you are looking for the big shapes and
the big relationships on the face that make your subject different from the average it
helps at this stage to squint your eyes at your photo reference to blur it out and make
the details disappear. You should primarily be concerned with the
biggest most obvious shapes. When you can see only the big shapes in your
subject, you will see what is most important to your subject’s likeness. Helpful Hint #2: Go fast! The faster you sketch, and the more you do
it, the more flexible your mind becomes. You’ll find that your sketches are looser
and less timid after you’ve warmed up a bit. A thumbnail sketch should only take between
2 to 3 minutes. Any longer and you get too involved in unnecessary
details. And as I said earlier, don’t worry if these
sketches are poorly structured, or are ugly and scratchy. Make exaggeration your number one priority,
with likeness being a close second. Later on, you can work on the structure and
refine the likeness. Think of your thumbnail sketches as your rough
draft. You’ll be able to fix any problems and refine
it in the next stage. All you are after here is to figure out your
basic concept. Helpful Hint #3: Lots of reference material
It really helps to have several different photos of your subject from different angles
which you can lay out and view at the same time. Certain angles or different types of lighting
will show a better likeness than others. And you will get a better sense of the person’s
likeness in three dimensions. You can use multiple photos in one of two
ways, You can either: Use one favorite photo to do all of your sketching
from, while keeping the other photos in the back of your mind. Or you can do Several sketches from all of
the different photos you have. Although, some illustration assignments will
require that you show the subject’s head looking in a particular direction, so you
won’t always have the luxury of choosing whichever head angle you want. After you have done several small thumbnail
sketches, look them over for whichever one has the most potential for further development. It doesn’t have to be the prettiest sketch,
and it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just should have strong exaggeration and
a good likeness. Helpful Hint #4: Change up your tools
Another technique you can use to improve your sketching is to try a variety of materials. Instead of a pencil, maybe try a ballpoint
pen. If you want to try sketching with block shapes
and values, rather than with lines, try a fat felt marker, a dipped ink brush, pastel
or charcoal.Switching the drawing tools often shakes you out of your comfortable tendencies
and habits. If you use a different tool to sketch, you
may just end up making choices you wouldn’t otherwise have made with just a pencil. Happy accidents are an artist’s friend. What’s Next? In the next lesson, I’ll show how I use
my thumbnail concept sketches to create a more fleshed out rough sketch and strategies
for improving the exaggeration in the process. Assignment
To practice what you learned in this video, gather several photos of a subject that interests
you. When doing a Google Image Search, restrict
your search to only large images. You’ll get higher quality photos to work
from. You can also specify if you want color, black
and white, or even restrict your search results to photos of just the face. Then fill up a page or two of loose quick
thumbnail sketches, exploring the shapes. Make exaggeration your top priority. Each time you do a new thumbnail sketch; try
to design a completely different head shape. This is the stage where you can take big risks. Don’t worry about failing or making every
sketch great. If you get even one successful thumbnail sketch
out of ten, that is a great accomplishment. Giveaway! If you want a chance to win a giclee print
of one of these caricatures, find the proko fanpage on facebook and reshare the post for
this video I’ll pick a random winner on December 22nd In the premium section of this course on,
check out more videos where I draw thumbnail sketches of lots of different celebrity faces,
explaining my process, and a video showing how I use a wide range of sketching materials
on the same face to get a variety of results. For the shortest route to caricature town,
these videos are the express way. Get your ticket at For those of you participating in the caricature course, there’s a facebook group where you can post your work. If you enjoyed this video, share it and tell
your friends! And if you want to get updates on new videos,
subscribe to the newsletter on

61 thoughts on “The Thumbnail Sketch – Caricature Drawing

  1. Thanks very much for sharing your experience. Very helpful as I am only in my second month of drawing 👏👌✍️️

  2. I was dying the whole video. first Christopher Walken's ET/Grinch -esque. Then Putin, then you have Taylor Swift lookin like a horse, then those big ass chins. I just couldn't. This was too much

  3. This video felt to me more like an art demonstration than an art instruction, and therefore wasn't as useful as the usual videos by Stan. Still I won't give it a thumb-down, yet didn't add it to my favorite videos. Sorry!

  4. Very nice.
    +1 for 'change up your tools'.
    Couldn't believe how much looser my drawing got when I switching to charcoal.
    Had a ton of fun. Many Thanks.

  5. I have been working on realism and needed a change.  This is just what I was looking for.  Thank you so much for excellent videos.

  6. Capel master! Drums please…. I give you…. the hardest challenge you will ever have in your entire life….: caricature your self… and you will fail.. because you see your self, like the perfect adult face, but you will never notice the differences you stand out with, which other peoples can see. which make this challenge IMPOSSIBLE. And you can take that to your thoughts.

  7. Never really bothered with caricatures before. But I think it would be a really useful exercise for animators. Thank you for these tips.

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