Creating Caricatures: Step-by-Step Part 3

Major corporate projects, like mergers and stock-market floats, are mammoth undertakings, often involving people from several different companies all working together. To celebrate the completion of such projects, I've been called upon to create commemorative caricature posters. I usually arrange printing of multiple copies (so everyone involved in the project gets one) and the framing of the original, so these large-scale group caricatures can become really big projects in themselves.

The Client's Concept

This usually involves a meeting, so it means changing from the cartoonist's usual corporate attire into something that security guards don't treat as "suspicious" - in other words, the shorts and t-shirt give way to a collared shirt and suit... and possibly a tie. The face gets a shave, too! In this instance, my client had put a lot of thought into the poster idea, based on previous jobs I've done for them, which was very helpful during the meeting. I was very mindful to compliment her on the artwork she had created (left) and the amount of work she had put into it... but it does look VERY funny.

Of course, once I got back to the studio, I had to create a practical layout (right). Rather than regular sailing boats, I thought 18th Century battleships would look better, suggesting the corporate "battlefield" that was created during the company float and the various takeover attempts that had occurred. We could then dress everyone in naval uniforms and stick in a few visual gags that would bring the scene to "life".

Of course, where I would place people (and how they would be depicted0 largely depended on the photographs I was to be sent - quality can vary and some are sent as prints, others are emailed to me. I also had to gather reference material for various logos, square-rigged battleships and naval uniforms, among other things. The poster was also going to be too big for my drawing table, so I was going to have to use my dining table.

Once the photos arrived and I matched faces to names (some pics were still to come), I pulled out a large sheet of Scholleshammer 4G drawing card and squared up my drawing area, allowing a margin all the way around. Using removable magic tape, I masked off the area - since I was going to be using mainly ink and gouache, I didn't want to worry about breaking the outside border and the tape allowed me to move the brush freely.


Getting Started

After mapping out where the ships and various islands would be, I started pencilling out faces from the supplied photo references (below left). The important thing for me was to ink in the faces first - then I could put all the photos away and focus on the imaginative bits! Using a 00 brush and indian ink, the faces started jumping out straight away (below right).

With the faces in place, I could turn my attention to the scene itself... the first thing was to go for accuracy (albeit exaggerated) with the ships. Since I knew where everyone was going to be placed, I could then draw the sails, railings and rigging around them (below left), throwing in a few deckhands along the way to fill out the population! Eventually, the scene is pretty much in place, ready for cvolouring (below right).

Going back to the photos for reference, I then start adding colour to the various faces, matching hair and eye colour as I go (below left). Again, I just want to get the faces out of the way as they are really fiddly and I can't rush them. I add highlights to faces using a correction pen, simulating spots of light that help give them a little extra reality (below right).


A Fish in Your Ear?

Using a wax pencil, I add a couple of extra subtle lines here and there (below left). I also use the computer to help with signage - there is a wonderful website ( which translates anything into any other language. The babel fish is a fictional creature that allows one to understand any language in the universe if you stick it in your ear... to find out more about the babel fish itself, read Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or go to

ANYWAY - this you-beaut website feature enabled me to create a sign in perfect German, which I was able to print out and glue in place (below right).

Next, it was logo time. Thanks heavens for the internet!

And here we have the finished artwork, prior to framing (below).




If you'd to see another large-format group caricature in progress...



Press the button to return to Steve's Home Page



All artwork ©2007 Noz Productions