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Corel Painter X : Mixed-Up Media - Digital Caricature (part 1) - Exaggerate and Simplify

6/30/2013 7:28:00 PM
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Is there a practical use for painting with patterns, gradients, and pieces of food? Figure 1 should help answer that question. These are caricatures I created live with Painter IX at the 2005 convention of NCN (National Caricaturists Network). Celestia’s big masses of curly blonde hair were quickly scribbled in with the linguini pattern (sorry, that’s Double Helix). I used Double Helix again to make eye “sockets,” which were then filled with a gradient. Karena wore a faux animal skin hat, so I painted several strokes of the Boa pattern to simulate it. And yes, each earring was done with a tap of the Sushi nozzle loaded in the Image Hose. So for someone doing business as Rhoda Draws A Crowd and creating live digital caricature entertainment at events, it’s very practical.
Figure 1. Your eyes are like aquatic neon!


Even if you have no intention of becoming a professional caricature artist, you’ll get better acquainted with Painter and develop critical observation skills by exploring this art form. Figure 2 has recent samples of my five-minute caricatures. There you’ll find more examples, some as layered RIFF files, some with photos of the victims (sorry, I meant subjects) for comparison. Practice making caricatures with faces in the People > Heads folder. Most of these folks are already funny looking, so you’ll have a leg up (or should I say “a nose up”).

Figure 2. Five-minute faces.


1. Exaggerate and Simplify

A successful caricature expresses the essence of a person’s face. Find at least one feature that is distinctive and “push” it. If the nose is long, make it longer. If the chin is weak, reduce it further. If the eyes are close together, move them in even tighter. Organization of the features in relation to each other is important, too. As with most other art projects, simplification is advised—leave out unnecessary details.

My digital caricature style has evolved over several years. After experimenting with many of Painter’s flamboyant brushes and effects, I have simplified my technique. (The need to produce a finished drawing every five minutes, as entertainment for large groups, is a powerful motivation to simplify!) I prepare a template with two layers, and I begin by laying down the basic line elements with Dry Ink, that wonderful edgy variant from the Calligraphy category that you’ve been using for your warm-up exercises. (If you haven’t, it’s not too late to start.) The second layer is for color, using Gel or Multiply mode for transparency. Dry Ink also works for splashing in the hair color or a facial tone quickly. Shading or additional color (rosy cheeks, eye shadow, and so on) is done with a Chunky Oil Pastel and a Blender variant. I chose Basic Paper for a smooth texture and Small Dots for beard stubble. Streaks in hair and glamorous eyelashes are created with a customized Scratchboard Rake.

Rake’s Progress

The Scratchboard Rake, a variant in the Pens category, makes several parallel strokes. I added Color Variability using 10% variation for each setting: Hue, Saturation, and Value. There is a controls section for Rake variants, where you can change other behaviors. I saved my customized Scratchboard Rake as a new variant with the Save Variant command in the Brush Selector Bar popup menu.


It’s called Rhoda Caricature and is shown in Figure 3. I don’t use all the tools and commands on every drawing, but most situations are covered. Notice the inclusion of specific papers, gradients, and my favorite pattern. Three of the brush variants are from the Pens group, so they have identical icons, but I know which is which by their positions in the palette. Recall that items can be rearranged with the Shift key engaged. Commands are added to a custom palette with the Add Command option in the Custom Palette menu.

Figure 3. It comes with linguini on the side.


Look at Figure 1 again, and pay special attention to the woman with dreadlocks. Save time and amaze your friends when you use Pens > Barbed Wire 7 to make this type of hairdo in a few seconds. Let’s examine this variant along with its cousin, Nervous Pen. Make a few test strokes and scribbles with each of them. Figure 4 shows three Barbed Wire 7 strokes on the left followed by two Nervous Pen strokes. The upper circular scribble was made with the Nervous Pen. The lower scribble was done with Barbed Wire in black and Nervous Pen strokes added using white.

Figure 4. Bundles of nerves.


Barbed Wire appears to be a bundle of Nervous Pen strokes. The number of strands in these variants is determined with the Feature slider, available in the Property Bar. A higher Feature value results in fewer strands. The tangled, jangled quality of these brushes is a function of Jitter, which you saw earlier in this lesson. This time you won’t see the Jitter control in the Property Bar, but you will find it in the Random section of the Brush Controls palette.

Jangled Nerves

Did your strokes have some variation in complexity or “tangledness”? The amount of Jitter responds to the speed of your stroke, with slower strokes producing dense tangles, while faster strokes stretch and smooth out the tangles. Are you guessing that the Expression variable for Jitter is Velocity? Then you’ll be as surprised as I was when I saw None in the Expression field. Caffeine would have made more sense than that, but it’s not an option.

 
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