When I look at a person, I'll often envision a caricature almost immediately. However, give me a pencil and paper, and I'm utterly, hopelessly terrible at drawing a face—caricature or otherwise—despite being a professional graphic artist. This has been a frustration for most of my adult life. Then one day in 2017, at a point when I had quite a bit of spare time on my hands, it occurred to me that I could use illustration software to render caricatures. The software would allow me to push lines and shapes around on a page until it matched what I was seeing in my mind's eye.

It seemed to work. But to be sure I was really hitting the nail on the head, I showed some of my first caricatures to a close friend who is a bona fide artist, and someone I could trust to offer an honest opinion. Honest she was: she said she didn't know who they were without looking at the filenames. So, I tried again, and this time her reply was, "These are excellent, and the style is wonderful!" And that's how it all started. The first run was a series of twenty done in 2017, after which I lost interest, mostly because I found it impossible to get any of them published. Recently I was inspired to resume making them as a distraction from a severe heart condition, and I did another nineteen. There may be more to come.

As a graphic artist, I've always thought in terms of black and white, which is why I chose a high-contrast chiaroscuro technique, although I'll use a different visual style according to the subject. Lately I've been experimenting with new, very different styles such as perfectly straight lines (Michael Flynn), stark minimalism (Stephen Miller), or selectively-enhanced realism (Ivanka Trump). Although the temptation has always been strong to revise older works, I've only allowed myself to do so on two occasions: Donald Trump—mostly because I'd come a long way rendering eyes—and Steve Bannon, who was an utter failure the first four times around.

The application I use is Version X8 of CorelDraw, which I've been using since Version 1. The typical rendering consists of roughly 50 shapes, although the count ranges from two (Stephen Miller) to as many as 200 (Melania Trump). While it takes an average of about a day to complete one, it can vary from a half-hour (Betsy DeVos) to nearly a week (Steve Bannon). Please bear in mind that these are not "computer-generated." I only use the computer to facilitate the rendering process; this is all still very much human-made artwork. That said, one distinct advantage of this approach is, because they're "vector" files, the drawings can be enlarged literally to any size and remain every bit as sharp.

They're not the best in the world, I'm well aware, but nevertheless I hope you enjoy them at least as much as I have making them. If you'd like to use any, please contact me.


Copyright © 2017-2020 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved