Making Of 'JK Simmons'
Overall, this work was relatively short and very pleasant to do. I spent around two days doing this caricature for a weekly online contest and I confess that I am addicted to participating in this kind of community. Communities and groups in social networks are places where we can find an infinite number of fantastic artists, and the feeling of sharing the same virtual space with most of my favorite artists is indescribable.
My first attempt at this caricature was to try to capture one of J.K. Simmons's funny expressions. I began with a fast pencil and paper sketch and felt that I was walking an interesting path (Fig.01).
At this moment, I thought that it would be nice to rough in the key lighting and the skin color. J.K. has some interesting rosy areas in his face, like the mouth and chin. The coloring work was very much exaggerated at this point (Fig.02).
The likeness wasn't there yet and, after leaving the illustration for some hours, I re-opened the file and realized that I wasn't satisfied with the result so far. I love his comedic performances, but on the other hand, J.K. has a lot of strong, serious performances in a lot of great movies and TV shows. Because of that, I decided to try an idea that I'd had some time ago for another piece: why not try to mix more than one facial expression together, in the same image?
I went back to the facial study to research some ways to mix at least two expressions of J.K. At the beginning of this process, I gave special attention to the eyebrow wrinkles in his face topology. Analyzing some pictures of him, I extracted some key points that, in my opinion, could characterize his most pleasant facial expressions (Fig.03).
I took this opportunity to smooth the skin color. Afterwards, I looked again at the caricature and felt that I was heading down the right path. Before refining the details, I was still missing the likeness and could see that I still had a lot of improvements to do (Fig.04 - 05).
Lighting, Likeness and More Improvements
Sometimes in my work, I simply cut off parts of the subject. Let me explain that better - I'm not a serial killer, but sometimes I feel that it is totally possible to split and mess up parts of a face. Okay, I'm still sounding a little manic, but anyway, in the J.K. caricature this wasn't the case. I did try doing this, but the result was better when I just put everything together (what a coward I am!). I fixed some proportions and distortions, and gave more attention to the likeness. After that I added a smooth rim light to highlight some volumes (Fig.06).
At this stage, I started adding the details and had fun painting this piece. This was a personal piece, and I always believe that this kind of job needs to be fun and an enjoyable way to study.
Details and Skin Texture
In this job I didn't created special brushes to paint skin and hair details. I tried to use brush stroke gestures to create textures and details. This little challenge reminded me of when I used to paint these kinds of details with real oils and brushes (Fig.07 - 09).
A final step that I do in my paintings is to create adjustment layers to correct some colors and bring out what I judge to be important elements. When I focus in on painting details and even through all the stages of painting, I tend to let everything become too highlighted.
I created a Levels adjustment layer to increase contrast, changing the relationship between the darker and brighter areas a little bit. Curves adjustments helped me to change high and low values of each color channel separately. Using Color Balance adjustment, I left diffused colors warm and shadow colors slightly cold. At last, I painted a color layer with rosy tones in the cheeks, nose and chin, to saturate the skin color in these areas slightly (Fig.10).
In my caricature work, I really try to register what I am able to capture about the subject's personality. I don't like to literally draw things that could underestimate who will look at the final picture. I also like to try challenging and diverse approaches, to experience things that inspire me to move on. The process has to be enjoyable, never boring. This illustration was no exception. This work encouraged me to try more and more, which is exhilarating because I am always anxious to do my next painting.