Good and bad caricatures


I’ll admit, when it comes to caricatures, I have a specific taste and am VERY critical of styles I don’t like. I’m not going to act as though my caricature work is perfect and doesn’t have flaws but hear me out… This is my personal opinion and is in no way fact, so take from that what you will :).

Caricatures have always been part of satire and have been around for a long time. A lot of artists take up caricature work because casual people will commission them. It’s steady work and it helps pay the bills. But not all artists take the time to develop their own style when drawing caricatures. And that’s what I’m most critical of.

All caricaturists claim to have their own styles but I’ll be honest… Most really don’t. Why am I so critical of this? Some artists are amazing in the technical department and surpass a lot of other artists in many ways. Their use of color and shading is extremely good and I like that aspect. But their approach is by the numbers.

Their drawing style looks like they bought the same book on how to draw caricatures and started using all the clichés in the book: big heads, little bodies, large hands, extremely realistic shading and coloring.

Then there are people who don’t really know how to draw caricatures. I gathered a few of Freddie Mercury (just because I did one of my own). Some are good and some are really bad.

First the bad so you’ll understand why the others are good in my opinion. Most of these don’t really look like Freddie if you think about it. They all rely on the fact that Freddie had a moustache and big crooked teeth. That alone does not make an entire caricature. Most of these totally deform his face or body. Just because you are drawing a caricature that doesn’t mean everything has to go to the extremes. Yes… caricatures make the flaws stand out more but drawing the flaws and neglecting the accuracy of everything else ruins the caricature. It also looks goofy if the head is misshapen to the extremes and the body looks hyper realistic. Doing it in a cartoony way is OK (we are talking caricatures after all) but the contortions and extreemes need to make sense in the caricatures universe and the subjects character.

These on the other hand are good in my humble opinion. They take what made Freddie iconic but also make it work with everything else. The shape of the head is right and even if the shapes are extreme they work with the rest of the image (like the first image below). Also… They all keep it clean and simple. I like caricatures like that because they don’t relly on the wow factor of the coloring and blending.

Also they all have their own specific style and use it to their favor. One even omits the teeth. When I drew my caricature of Freddie I intentionally omitted both the moustache and the teeth because I wanted to make him recognizable without his most iconic physical attributes.

Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury by Viktor Höchtl illustration

So I hope you understand what I’m getting at. This is not a rant or an attack on my fellow caricaturists but rather a critique they can take and better themselves. Artists are suppose to be capable of that aren’t we?

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