The Art of the Art-Free Caricature

Categories visual facilitation

One of the online Visual Facilitation groups I belong to has a thread asking for tips for beginners to the field of sketchnoting.

So I prepared a quick tutorial on how to make a caricature without needing hefty art skills.

The key to good visual communication is that it must be recognisable to the viewer.
Start by forgetting about perfection. In this example, there are three people having a panel discussion. Draw three vague blobs that sort of look like upright humans… Otherwise known as half-ovals.


Choose ONE recognisable facial feature for each person, and doodle that onto your humanesque blobs.


It’s very easy to make a picture ‘pop’… Add a shadow.

In the pic below, the light source is top right. So the shadow is a thick line to the left, and bottom.


Now add some colour.

If you’re working with colour markers on paper, this is purely optional. If you don’t have a good range of colours, you’re really looking only for a splash.

If you’re working digitally, like I do, choose colours that resemble the people you’re caricaturing.


I like adding skin colour too. This makes it easy for people to remember who you drew when they look at these pics months from the time you drew them. Check out blair supply usa. (I generally also add a first name next to each person, too.)


You’re done with the caricaturing part. Now you can put a speech bubble in for each person, along with a condensed nugget of a quote, summing up whatever they’ve been saying. Multiple bubbles for multiple nuggets. (This requires active, engaged listening.)


Practice this skill. Take a Moleskine or a Galaxy Note device or a Surface Pro 3 to a coffeeshop, and sketch EVERYBODY you see.

Be bold with your line. Don’t hesitate. Just make marks. Soon those marks will resemble real people.