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Caricature Painting | 01 |

How to Paint a Caricature

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Here’s a look at the final painting in this lesson on how to paint a caricature.

Resizing Your Canvas to a High Resolution

caricature_blocking_02In his previous lesson, leading Brazilian artist and colorist for Marvel Comics, Giovani Kososki demonstrated how to draw a caricature of X-Men actor, Hugh Jackman.

Now, you’re going to learn how to paint a caricature in Photoshop, using a variety of techniques to create a stunning caricature painting.

Firstly, having made some final modifications to your drawing as featured in the previous lesson such as altering the size of the nose and placement of the eyes, you need to set to work resizing your canvas to a resolution suitable for high quality printing, selecting a size of 300 pixels per inch. This will ensure you have a high quality image should you wish to print it out.


caricature-blocking_03Setting up Your Layers

Having resized your image, follow Giovani’s lead and crop your caricature painting slightly to create a better composition.

Next, go into layer set-up, where you’ll need to duplicate the background layer before locking it – this is to ensure you can always return to the original version if you accidentally paint over an area.

The more familiar you become with Photoshop, the less of a risk this will be, but at least by locking the layer you always have an original version to return to. You’ll notice he’s also naming each layer – this is crucial when learning how to paint a caricature in Photoshop, because once you’ve created many different layers, it can be very confusing to find the right one if they haven’t been correctly named.

Simply right click on layer properties and give each layer a name to identify it, such as ‘hair’ or ‘skin’.


caricature_blocking_04Colorizing the Line Art

Next, set your duplicate layer above to ‘multiply’, before creating another layer where you can apply a neutral gray color to the backdrop so it’s not stark white.

After this, you then need to colorize the line art in your caricature painting, selecting a brick red which will look much better than plain black – this is a good technique to adopt for most paintings, since it gives them a much more realistic feel.

For the next stage, create another layer called ‘base’ where you can then begin coloring your caricature painting with some skin tones using the default brushes in Photoshop. You’ll see that Giovani avoids using a regular round brush, opting instead for one of the more painterly ones.

This will help stop your painting from looking too digital and give it an authentic painterly look – an absolute must when learning how to paint a caricature.


Painting Subtle Shades of Skin Tone


Having selected a suitable skin tone, proceed to color in your drawing – note how the color palette is used regularly in this tutorial along with the color picker to create a huge range of different shades.

You can access the color picker by holding down the ‘Alt’ key when using your brush, allowing you to pick up any color from your canvas and continue painting with it.


Remember to lock each layer of your caricature painting so you don’t accidentally move any elements out of line.


How to Paint a Caricature – Adding Shadows and Highlights

caricature_blocking_06Now you’ve got the basic skin color down, start adding some highlights and shaded areas, adjusting the flow of your brush to create blends and transparent washes.

Although the original picture you’re working from should always be visible as a useful reference point for your caricature painting, it’s best to mix your own colors according to what you see, rather than take shades directly from the original image.

This will help you develop as an artist and give your work originality.

Note how highlights appear on the more prominent features of the face, such as the nose, Adam’s apple and ear. Shadows tend to have a blue or purple hue.


caricature_blocking_07Decrease Brush Flow for Smoother Blends

Decreasing the brush flow as you’re working will give you a more natural effect when coloring, as you can recreate the different densities of color you’d see in nature.

This feature is really helpful when learning how to paint a caricature because it will let you blend colors into one another just as if you were painting a canvas in oils.

Remember to Save Your Work!


While he’s working, Giovani regularly saves his caricature painting so he has different stages to refer back to at a later date.

This is a very good habit to adopt, because it means you always have different reference points of your work should you need to use a previous version.

You’ll also find it useful to number each version using an underscore followed by 001, for example.



Working on the Eyes and Hair

Moving on to the eyes, select an off-white shade before coloring the iris gray – this helps you create a more realistic feel in your caricature painting and will enable you to add highlights at a later stage

As with pure black, the use of pure white should be avoided, since these colors rarely occur in nature.


Going back to the face, note how as an artist, you can use a variety of different brush sizes depending on which area you’re coloring.

For example, the area around the eyes requires a small brush, while a larger one can be used to fill in bigger areas. Adjust the hue and saturation of a layer to achieve your desired result – the higher the saturation, the deeper the color will be.

caricature_blocking_10Create a New Layer For The Hair

Having worked on the skin, for this last step in this video on how to paint a caricature you can then create a new layer for the hair, using a large brush to fill in the area and applying brush strokes which follow the lines in the original photograph.

In the next tutorial, we’ll see how you can use the original line art as a basis for detailed blending and shading to create a stunning finished caricature painting.

Return to the How to Paint a Caricature Lessons Page


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