Art Tools of Daryl Stephenson

For this installment of Art Tools and Gears, we have with us guest artist Daryl Stephenson from Canada.

Originally from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Daryl is currently based in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. Daryl is a full-time and self-taught caricature and portrait artist, and he started drawing digital caricatures at live events since 2011.

We have invited Daryl today to share with us some of his caricature/portrait artworks and the art tools that he uses, as well as offer some tips for aspiring caricature artists.

Qn: Could you introduce yourself to our readers? (Also, how did you learn the ropes of caricature art on your own?)

My Father, whom I never lived with, got me started on drawing. He introduced me to the art of doodling. My fondest memories are sitting at his dining room table finishing off each others doodles.

I have always been fascinated with drawing caricatures. I started out drawing as realistically as I could and feel that I excel at this but caricature artists always fascinated me. I wanted the ability to draw fast and draw a recognizable portrait/cartoon or caricature with exaggeration

One cannot be taught how to draw a caricature. One can be taught how to draw what they see but to draw a caricature, one must develop an “eye” for it and it takes time and practice. So in a nutshell, I researched as many artists as I could find online. Studied their drawings, tried to re-create their drawings to learn from them and practiced as much as I could. I was “ok” at it but not until I started drawing live caricatures, did I really learn how to draw fast and accurately.

Qn: What are the traditional art-tools you use for drawing caricatures and portraits?

For live events I use black bullet tip markers on 11X14 paper, I rarely draw traditional colour caricatures at live events but when I do I use prismacolor art-sticks.

For most of the other traditional drawings I do I use pencils which could be followed up with either ink pens (pigma) However these are mostly just done for fun and practice. I rarely sell or market traditional caricatures.

I do, however, offer traditional portrait drawings (people or pets) which I use charcoal and or pencil (graphite) as my main drawing tool. I sometimes use ink but only when requested as this is quite time consuming and expensive for clients.

Qn: What are the digital tools you use to draw caricatures and/or portraits?

I have a series of Wacom Cintiq Tablets that I use for my studio and/or events. Right now as I write this in my studio, I have the following equipment set up

Click for a bigger view

  • Cintiq 21ux. (center of screen under small monitor) This is my primary studio art tablet running windows 7.1. The computer is hidden under the desk. This computer has never touched the internet. I use USB sticks to transfer files from this to my other computers that I use for e-mails. Because this computer has never touched the internet, it is the fastest Machine ever!!!!
  • Cintiq Companion 2. Small tablet to the right of the 21ux. I use this for emails, working in bed or out of town. It is a stand-alone computer and tablet and what I take to events as a backup.
  • Cintiq 22HD. This is the tablet set up in portrait mode to the very right of the picture. This is hooked up to a Mac Mini and this is what I use primarily for live digital events.
  • To the left of the 21ux is my older laptop. This is connected to the monitor that is above the 21UX and I use this for surfing the web, displaying photos of clients or celebrities or watching youtube or Netflix as I draw.
  • I have two printers in my studio, both HP’s. Both can be wirelessly accessed from anywhere in the house. One prints large format (up to 13X19) and this is what I primarily use for gift caricature commissions.
  • I use SketchBook Pro by Autodesk as my primary drawing program for 99% of my artwork, in studio or at events. If I need vector drawings I use CorelDraw and for image manipulation I use Corel Photo Paint. I have yet to use Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. For what I do, I don’t need them.

Qn: Compare and contrast traditional and digital caricature drawings? (Which is more popular?)

The only time I draw traditional caricatures at live events is when a client wants me to draw as many people as I can in a set amount of time. I can draw 50% more people when I draw with a black Marker on paper than a colour digital drawing. I never get asked to draw colour traditional caricatures at live events.

Drawing digital caricatures at live events and displaying them on a large flat screen TV or other large display is so entertaining, even for those who do not wish to be drawn.

In a nutshell, digital is more popular and the best thing about digital compared to traditional is…

..the UN-DO button.

Qn: Is it more challenging to draw caricatures 'live' rather than from a picture? What are some of your most challenging experiences in drawing caricature art?

Live caricatures are much easier because the person is sitting in front of you. They are not a small pixelated photo that you are expected to draw from.

There are a few challenging experiences that one comes across. I’ll go over a few of them here.

  1. Some of the pictures people send me to draw from are downright nasty. Low resolution snapshots from a distance. Some with hats and sunglasses on and they ask for no hats or sunglasses in the drawing.
  2. Some people accept the price because they understand the work involved, some can’t figure out why it costs so much. Others expect it for free. No kidding, people actually expect it for free sometimes.
  3. When a drawing is done, clients end up showing a bunch of people the drawing (I send them a low res watermarked image file) to get feedback but if you show 5 people a drawing you will get five different opinions on how to make the drawing better. I always allow for in revision on my quote because it is rare that someone will not ask for changes and when you do it digitally, it can be very easy to make minor changes.

Those are some of the challenges of working with non-corporate clients. Something you have to get used to.

The most challenging experiences while drawing live have been stepping out of my comfort zone, whether it is graphic facilitation for a corporate meeting or sitting in the front row of a tech conference drawing the speakers as they’re giving their speeches on topics you have no idea about.

Qn: What are your most memorable pieces of caricature art works? (Do you have any favorites you can share with us too?)

My favourites are the ones I do on cheap copy paper with pencils and markers that were available at my last workplace. These were the practice ones I did and when I started to “get it” it was really satisfying to know I could do it.

Qn: I imagine that caricature requires much creativity - where do you get your inspirations from?

From other Caricature artists. I recently joined the International Society of Caricature artists. This has given me a plethora of experience and inspiration to draw from (no pun intended).

My son, who is an artist working in Vancouver, always inspires me as he is 10 times the artist I could ever be. His artwork blows me away and makes me proud.

Qn:How will you advise a beginner wishing to start out on caricature art?

Practice, practice and more practice. Then you have to throw yourself into the ring and start drawing live. This is the quickest way to see if you can do it. As I said before no one can teach you how to draw a caricature, you have to develop the skill and that only comes from practice and sheer determination.

Qn: Have you read any art-books that you can share with us?

For caricatures there is only one book that I need to recommend.

The Mad Art of Caricature by Tom Richmond

Tom is an freelance cartoonist caricature artist that works for Mad Magazine, drawing all those movie and TV parodies. You can buy it from his website in print or in digital form. Just google his name, you’ll find it.

Qn: Which other artist/s do you think we should interview next?

My son, Brandon Stephenson.

We are thankful to Daryl Stephenson for sharing his artworks, art tools and experiences in this informative interview. For more about Daryl and his artworks, you may visit his website or his blog.

Daryl also has a twitter page where he regularly shares his caricature sketches.

Check out other artist interviewees at


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