An Artist's Practical Guide to Creating Portraits with Personality
A truly comprehensive and laser-focused examination of a really wonderful, expressive art form. Understanding Caricature offers artists, aspiring artists, students, journalists, bloggers, etc. a lively guide to an old and respected art form. A great caricature is one that not only captures the subject’s look and personality but amplifies them significantly. They are almost always funny and very often (but not always) mean spirited.
Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hairline, cheeks, eyebrows, teeth, chin: There’s no facial feature (or any other body part, for that matter) that can escape the sardonic scrutiny of caricaturist and illustrator Greg Houston. But though he cleverly twists, exaggerates, and distorts each subject’s image, he always makes sure the person remains recognizable—an absolute must for successful caricature.
Whether on assignment or simply drawing for his own perverse pleasure, Houston loves skewering the high and mighty—movie stars, moguls, politicians, and assorted other VIPs—especially when they misbehave. Caricature, says Houston, is a very sharp weapon for the powerless to use against the powerful, and he can teach you to wield it, too.
After defining caricature, differentiating it from other forms of portraiture, and delving into its centuries-long history, Houston gets down to the nitty gritty of how to do it. He focuses sequentially on the face, the hair, the body, and what he calls “accoutrements”—distinctive items of clothing that help viewers immediately identify celebrities. You yourself will learn to poke artistic fun at the famous through a series of demonstrations that let you follow Houston as he constructs caricatures of Jake Gyllenhaal, Masie Williams, Dwayne Johnson, Rainn Wilson, and other notable victims of his wicked pen.
But Houston doesn’t focus solely on his own approach. A whole chapter of Understanding Caricature is devoted to other contemporary caricaturists and the signature mediums they work in, ranging from traditional oils and watercolors, to digital drawing and painting, to sculpture and even puppet-making. And the book’s final chapter displays the work of students who’ve studied with Houston at his Baltimore academy. Brilliant in their own right, these pieces also demonstrate how any artist, with Houston’s guidance, can become a skilled practitioner of the caricaturist’s art.
Praise for Understanding Caricature
“Greg Houston . . . explains how to crank up the amps when depicting a subject . . . . His book includes a historical overview of the art form [and] generous samples of his own and other artists’ work add to the fun.”
“Understanding Caricature employs a conversational tone that is lively, entertaining, engaging and most of all accessible. The sheer number of illustrations in the book, along with detailed explanations of the process (and many fun, personal quips by the author), make it a fantastic resource for the budding caricaturist looking to take their work to the next level, not just in style and medium but in the way one views the art itself.”