Art Tools of Tony Marriott

For this installment of Art Tools and Gears, we have guest artist Tony Marriott from the UK with us.

Currently based in Gloucester, UK, Tony is a full-time caricature artist who is versatile with both traditional and digital mediums.

We have the honor of inviting Tony today to share with us some of his caricature 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 get started in caricature art? How did you learn the ropes?)

From an early age, I've always admired comic book and animation artists. I studied traditional art techniques, specializing in technical illustration (perspective engineering drawings), but felt pulled towards the comical and humorous side of art. I first started drawing my friends and family, searching for ways to get a funny reaction. During my work in a Graphics Office, there was a call for a leaving gift for when staff moved on. Working from photos, this was where my grounding began. For a while, I worked for a greeting card publisher, working on various cuddly bear illustrations, but was then made redundant. This gave me the opportunity to go for my dream of working as a full-time caricature artist. I threw myself in at the deep end, by working on the streets at craft markets, drawing on-the-spot caricatures. The aim of this was to develop my skills and push myself to drawing faster to enable me to be hired as entertainment at special events, such as weddings.

Qn: What are the traditional art-tools & materials you use for drawing your caricature art?

For caricature work at live events, I work on uncoated cartridge paper using 3H pencils to create a loose base sketch, which I then finish off with line work using Copic Ciao brush pens. This gives the ability to create great outline form in shapes with its thick-to-thin line capabilities. Also, because the ink is alcohol-based, it dries immediately, so no risk of smudging (speed is of the essence when working at weddings and corporate events). I then add shading, using grey pastels with my cloth-wrapped finger. You can get a great airbrushed effect by applying different amounts of pressure as you sweep across the paper. I use two types of board for my artwork. For live events, I wanted something light and portable and quick to set up. Also, a board that I could get close to, as, like a lot of artists, have suffered with back problems. I adapted a camera tripod, which works a treat!

Back in the studio, traditional-style work is created on a wall-mounted, angled board. Studio commissions that I get via my website take longer to produce, as they include much more detail. The first style is pastel, black & white or full colour, application of which is same as for live events. The second style is digital, which comprises scanning in a neat pencil outline and then painting using Photoshop on a graphics tablet. The final style is colour pencil. Using the Copics and other thin nibbed marker pens, these illustrations are then shaded using Derwent Studio colour pencils on Winsor and Newton 250 gsm Bristol board. When I've had spare time, I've also experimented with pencil/acrylic paint on canvas, creating a few caricatures of famous people.

Qn: What are the digital art-tools you use for drawing your caricature art?

For digital work, I use Photoshop software with a Wacom Intuos Stylus and Wacom graphics tablet. It's an old piece of kit, but still does the trick! Final artwork is printed on high-quality archival matt paper in various sizes.

Qn: Which do you prefer to use, traditional or digital tools, when drawing? (And why?)

I always prefer traditional tools. I'm a bit 'old-style'! In my opinion, you can't beat the good old-fashioned hands-on approach. The artist needs the tactile feeling of pastel and paint on his skin, putting him/herself directly into the work. Digital is too clinical and polished, but saying that, you can get some amazing effects, eg reflections and shadows and the colour spectrum on offer is pretty incredible too! But, if there's a power-cut, what are you going to do?!

Qn: What are some of the most memorable caricature art-pieces that you have drawn to date?

For me, the goal of my work is to make people smile and laugh, and some of my most memorable creations have been at live events. As they are being drawn, I get immense satisfaction listening to onlookers' comments and reactions, and then there's the bonus of the big reveal when the paper is turned around to show the subject. One of my favourite 'from photos' caricatures was of British comic legends Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson ('The Young Ones' and 'Bottom'). I then had the honour and pleasure of meeting Rik a few years back and presenting him with the original pencil illustration.

Qn: What do you think are some of the challenges that caricature artists face? (How will you suggest dealing with these challenges?)

The greatest challenge is to see how far you can exaggerate the features of a face while still keeping a recognizable likeness, with the least marks possible on the paper. Speed is always a challenge, but this improves with practice and continued experimenting with tools, materials and techniques. You must be prepared to put your heart and soul, plus plenty if time and practice, into your art. Most of all though, fun!

Qn: Do you have any person/people in mind that you wish most to draw a caricature of, but haven't had the opportunity to?

There isn't one person I have in mind. I relish the chance to draw as many of the older generation as I can, as these faces are the most interesting for me. Mainly because, as we age, our faces change and have more character, with the way the skin hangs, with and interesting shapes to draw such as creases and shadows. Searching for that one signature, iconic thing about a person, can also be interesting to try and replicate and push just a little bit further on paper. Just look at Jack Nicholson's eyebrows or Stallone's droopy eyes!

Qn: Do you have any tips to offer for aspiring caricature artists on the choice/use of art-tools (both traditional & digital) and in caricature art generally?

With traditional caricature art, some of the best caricature artists in the world prefer to only use a lead pencil and paper! It's down to personal choice. The joy of art is that there are so many different mediums on offer. Experiment with the tools on offer. Spend time seeing just what you can do with eg a set of pastels/pencils. Study the way a pencil works - twisting a pencil as you shade, helps to keep it sharper for longer! With pastel work, use an eraser to create amazing highlights and other effects. Search out a range of papers to see how they react with different types of colour applications. The same goes for Digital work, but with the difference of having a huge range of kit and application software on offer. Traditional or digital, which ever skill set you decide to go for - dive in! Be prepared to sacrifice time and you'll eventually come up with recipes that you can use to produce work in your own, unique style.

Qn: Have you read any art-book/s or instructional mediums related to art that you can share with us?

  • The Mad Art of Caricature - A Serious Guide to Drawing Funny Faces by Tom Richmond.
  • Hollywood Stars by Jean Mulatier.
  • Caricature Sketches by Jan Op De Beeck.
  • 'The International Society of Caricaturist Artists' - This is an international non-profit trade association. Its purpose is to promote the art of caricature, educate the public and the media about the art of caricature and to provide its members with helpful information about caricature as an as art-form as well as a profession. Please refer to this website link.

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

Kumi Earnshaw and Michael Ahearne

We thank Tony Marriott for sharing his artworks, art tools and experiences in this insightful interview. For more about Tony and his artworks, you may visit his website or his face-book and twitter page.

Check out other artist interviewees at


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