How to Carve Caricatures
image by Photos by Sherry Snider
The key to carving caricatures is exaggeration. Everyone mentally knows what an average shape looks like. We may not be able to verbalize the image of average we have in our heads, but we know it when we see it. More appropriately, we know it when we don't see it. If a nose is larger or smaller than average, we notice. If eyes are "close together," we notice. Anything exaggerated from the average is noticeable, and it is those noticeable characteristics that are captured in caricature.
Examine the general size and shape of the head for deviation from the average.
The average width of the head is five times one eye, and the average height of the head is about one hand length from the chin to the hair line.
Look for general alignment of facial features and, specifically, how positions differ from the average. The average head can be divided into thirds and halves, but proportional differences are prime areas to exaggerate in caricature. The top third is approximately the top of the head to the brow line. The middle third is approximately from the brow line to the bottom of the nose. The bottom third is approximately from the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin. The bottoms of the eyes generally fall along the half line of the head. The bottom third of the head can further be divided into thirds with the lip line and divot of the chin as visual markers.
Think of the character's height. The average male body is about eight times the size of the head. (Females are about 7.5 heads.) If the character is shorter or taller than the average proportion, majorly exaggerate for caricature effect.
Once the exaggerations are determined, create a sketch and begin making rough cuts to the carving material to remove excess material. You may use a knife, blade, special gouging and carving tools, or even power tools.
Whittle away with finer detail tools to smooth out features and shapes until your carving matches your caricatured image, then finish with sanding, stain, paint and/or sealant to complete.