behind the scenes

Craft the perfect caricature

Jesus Rodriguez Martin (Rodmart) shares the process and techniques he used to paint his image, Bob Hoskins Caricature!

This image was created to take part in the caricature group on Facebook ‘BookFace Caricature Contest’. This kind of group is very useful to practice, improve your skills and share your work. In this case, the sketch was made in a traditional way, but sometimes all of the process can be fulfilled digitally (sketch included). Nowadays there are a lot of computer programs that enable you to imitate traditional techniques (Sketchbook Pro or Artrage for sketching, and Photoshop and Painter in regard to painting) and make the transition to digital media easy.

Searching for references

Whenever I start a project I spend significant amount of time searching for references. Although you use one only image in the end, I think it’s important to have pictures from different points of view because the facial features can change a lot depending on from where we see them. If it isn’t possible, it’s good that we at least have a front view and a side view. In case you want to make a detailed and realistic caricature, I recommended finding high quality photos.

Sketch

Once the reference image is chosen, we proceed to create the sketch that can serve as a guide for the following painting process. It is up to the caricaturist to decide on the features that make the subject unique and recognizable. It’s this vision that guides the caricaturist on which significant elements to emphasize.

Emphasizing doesn’t just mean to enlarge or decrease the size of a feature. Factors like the shape of the head and the relationship between the features (angle and distance) play a very important role in the success of a caricature.

The initial sketch

The initial sketch

Preparing the reference image

Since I wanted to make a painting in values I obtained a black and white version of my reference image. There are many ways to do this – convert the image mode to grayscale, desaturate it, create a new layer filled with white above the layer with the picture and change the Blending Mode of this layer to Color – It’s up to you!

Converting the reference image to black and white

Converting the reference image to black and white

Brush settings

In this case I used brush in the standard Photoshop library, because it gives the traditional feel to my paintings, but you could use a hard round brush if you don’t want that finish. Regarding the settings, these will change based on the use of the brush. If you’re going to do a sketch, paint hair or start to block forms you’ll have to change such settings.

The brush settings I use to start painting over the sketch

The brush settings I use to start painting over the sketch

Blocking

Then we start the blocking in process, at first in a very general way trying to paint without zooming in, so we aren’t diverted from our purpose in this stage. The details will arrive later on. Try to establish the direction of the light by adding the first values and right after continue to incorporate new values using your reference as a base. Then compare the next values, by verifying them this way ensures they are as close to original as possible.

Adding in the values

Adding in the values

Adding details

Now the real fun begins. Zoom in for adding details to areas of the drawing that need them. Pay attention to your reference image for obtaining maximum realism and achieving great effects. You can modify the opacity of the brush if you feel comfortable painting certain details of the drawing. This is not an exact science. The practice will help you to choose every moment wisely.

Adding in the details

Adding in the details

Painting hair

The blocking in is done to serve as a base for the hair. With the settings listed above (Brush settings) for painting hair, we proceed to create both locks and individual hairs, varying the value and thickness according to your reference image. Their arrangement and shape must be coupled to the original, also with a degree of freedom by artist to exaggerate them if the character requires it.

Painting the hair detail

Painting the hair detail

Skin Imperfections

I use the brush (yes, one more time) with the right value according to the illumination of the character and we go on realizing blemishes or freckles whilst playing with Pressure and Opacity to give them the appropriate shape and orientation. It’s advisable to do all of this in a separate layer to make the following process easier.

We take the eraser tool to remove the blemishes or freckles indicated above, either fully or partially to vary the amount of these, achieve illumination effects and integrate them with the rest of the drawing.

Creating skin details

Creating skin details

Final adjustments

Finally, we can use some of the tools that Photoshop puts at our disposal to remove that artificial feeling generated by the computer. By playing with Noise layers and/or adding interesting textures, it’s possible to obtain painting effects very real. For my particular case I applied an Add Noise filter to a medium gray (50%) layer and then blurred it (Blur More filter). A canvas-like appearance was possible by means of scanning an image of a clean cloth.

Related links

Check out Jesus Rodriguez Martin on Facebook
Grab a copy of Beginner’s Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop: Characters


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