Experiment – Caricature

The problem

I was asked to create a cartoon image for a work colleague’s leaving do. The brief included several suggestions /in jokes that could be included in the image.

The only reference I had to work from was a mug shot photograph from the corporate staff directory.

I had roughly a week to create the artwork.

Up to this point I’d never accepted the challenge to create a caricature/portrait for a client (albeit this was not paid work and doing the work was optional). This was primarily because I hadn’t felt confident enough to achieve enough of a likeness to be acceptable.


  • I will be able to produce an image that will meet the brief and be usable.
  • This will raise my profile as a ‘serious’ illustrator and generate more work of this kind.

What happened

I created two pen and ink drawings. The first using a dip pen and the second using a fountain pen.

Both drawings used permanent Carbon Ink so that I could use a wash of watercolour on top of the drawing.

I used the mug shot photographic reference to draw the head and other stock reference for the hands.

Fig 1 – Test caricature (2021)

The handwritten caption was in the style of Maria Calman that I’d used in Assignment 2 Text and image.

I scanned and resized the hand lettering and redrew the hands from the first drawing into the final artwork using a lightbox.

Fig 2 – Caricature of Fergie (2021)

I emailed the client with a digital copy of the picture that I’d resized to A3 so that it could be printed if needed.

I felt anxious that I hadn’t captured enough of a likeness and that might lead to an awkward conversation but the response to the artwork was really positive.

What I learned

  • Getting reference from a corporate directory is not great. I should have specifically asked for different/better photographs to give me more options.
  • I can achieve enough of a likeness to do this.

What I’ll do next

  • Completing this successfully has given me confidence to accept further commissions of this type.
  • I will experiment further with caricature to see whether there is value in developing this part of my practice into something more substantial.

List of illustrations

Figure 1 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) Test caricature [Pen & ink, water soluble wax pastels] In possession of: The author

Figure 3 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) Caricature of Fergie [Fountain pen, water soluble wax pastels] In possession of: The author

%d bloggers like this: