A caricature is an artistic rendering of an image whereby distinctive features or peculiarities are simplified or exaggerated deliberately as a form of entertainment or amusement. The origin of the term “caricature’ stems from the Italian word ‘caricare’, meaning to charge or to load. A formal translation of caricature means “loaded portrait.”
Leonardo Da Vinci is credited with some of the early forms of caricature, creating artistic impressions more striking than a common portrait. Da Vinci used models with disfigurement or deformity in these ‘caricatures’.
Caricaturists and Cartoonists employ tactics such as gentle mockery, comedy, ridicule, satire, and even social or political commentary through the use of distorted drawings and images. Artists draw inspiration from natural and acquired characteristics of individual subjects such as large ears or facial hair, or will focus on pronounced vanities including clothing items or mannerisms.
Caricatures are traditionally drawn by sketching, using distinctive pencil strokes, or artistic drawings, although increasingly common is the use of computer software programs to digitize images. Creating caricatures or illustrations in computer graphics programs requires advanced skills in computer aided design, and knowledge of selected graphics software, and is typically a more intensive process.
Increasingly, software programs are attempting to automate the creation of caricatures using warping tools for rapid production. However, businesses seeking professional caricatures primarily opt to employ the services of a skilled artist.
Common applications of caricature include political commentary and editorial opinion in popular newspapers, and social perspectives in print magazines. Caricature type cartoons are frequently used in comics, or children's books, avatars, website illustrations, the creation of clip art, or for use in other publications. A skilled artist will design directly from photos, drawings, or with the use of a live model.
Outside of business use, caricatures often drawn specifically for an individual benefactor, purchased as a gift or souvenir. Accomplished caricaturists quickly complete drawings at public gatherings such as carnivals, fairs and popular tourist attractions with much hilarity.
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