Drawing caricatures (part I)…

A few people have asked me how i go about inking and colouring in my cartoons/caricatures so heres the first part of my how to guide. For this tutorial I will be using a Wacom Cintiq tablet and pen and the art program Photoshop CS4 for drawing and colouring in. Many artists use pen, brush or pencil to ink in the outline, sometimes i use a black watercolour pencil (Faber-Castell) which gives a nice matt black line and can also be used very easily for fine lines, but i mostly prefer to use the tablet which can be much quicker and easier to use if you dont mind eyeballing a computer screen for hours on end. Although i will be using the wacom tablet and pen to draw the black outline, all the tips still apply to a normal black and white inked drawing.


The Wacom Cintiq tab and pen

Part I – ‘Drawing the outline’

Normally you would draw a light rough pencil drawing on paper and then add the black outline ontop of this and just rub out the rough design here and there when you have finished, but using photoshop CS4 it makes it much easier and less messy. I would start with a blank document (400dpi and 20cm x 28cm in size) and dragging the rough design (the one from yesterday slightly alterered) onto the top of the page I create my first layer which i reduce the opacity down to 30% so its a very light grey.

I then create a second layer on top of the rough design which i will be using to draw the black outline by clicking on Layer > New > Layer in photoshop.


So when its all completed instead of rubbing out the light pencil work if drawing on paper, i can simply delete the first layer (rough design) in photoshop so im left with just 2 layers (the blank white background and the finished black outline).

Basically much of the volume and form of the caricature is done in the colouring in stage but some volume and form is done in the black outline stage. You cannot be timid when doing the outline or you will lose any chance of spontaneity or energy in the final work, you have to have the confidence that your stroke is going where you want it to go. Dont rush the outline but dont labour over it with slow awkward strokes either. To get form and volume into your black outline you dont want to just trace the lines of the rough drawing or you’ll just end up with a tracing so heres a few useful tips.

1) Start with the focal point of the drawing and work your way back to the less important parts and this naturally causes the important elements to stand out and others to recede which is what you want. The objects which are your focal points will have the boldest and heaviest lines and also have the most detail whereas the less important parts of the drawing will be less bold and more simple. Unfortunately im not doing a background in this piece but you can see in this example how the windows 7 logo has a bolder heavier line and behind it a thinner line is used. The result is the 7 becomes more prominent.


2) Another useful tip for creating volume is thinking about the light source, and to make all the lines that define an edge away from the lightsource to be thicker than those nearest to it. I dont try that hard to follow the light source when im doing the line work but i use it on the majority of the image and it gives the drawing life, movement and energy rather than flat and lifeless.


3) Another tip is to use crosshatching to create even more depth and also for texture and patterns. There are many different ways to use crosshatching but the important rule is to avoid the perfect 90 degree lines, here are some examples.


So thats basically it, i roughly take about 3-4 hours from a rough design to the finished black outline. Using the photoshop technique with wacom tab and pen i’m left with a blank white background and a layer above which is the black outline. If on the other hand you are creating the black outline with pen/pencil and paper then you will be left with the final artwork on a piece of paper which you will then have to scan into the computer as the next stage (colouring in) will be done entirely with photoshop.

Finished black outline…


…to be continued tomorrow in part II ‘Blocking in the colours’



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