Review: Proko Art of Caricature Course Taught By Court Jones
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Proko’s videos have taken the art world by storm. He’s published some amazing courses on figure & anatomy by focusing primarily on the fundamentals of drawing.
Recently another artist joined with Proko to publish his own video course under the same brand. Caricaturist Court Jones launched his course in 2016 and it’s quickly become a popular resource for anyone studying illustration, exaggeration, or the detailed process of capturing likeness in drawing.
I nabbed a copy of The Art of Caricature just for this review. And if you’re thinking of getting a copy yourself then you’ll probably be quite happy with the quality.
But this course is not for everyone so let’s take a peek and see what it offers.
Who Is Court Jones?
Let’s talk a little about the guy behind the course: the very talented Court Jones.
He’s a skilled caricature artist with decades of professional experience including many works published in The Washington Post & Wired Magazine(among many others).
We published a detailed interview with Court so if you wanna learn more about his journey be sure to check that out.
But you can trust that Court’s knowledge shines through in this series. It follows a similar format to the other Proko videos where you’ll have shots of Court explaining topics(with visual FX) along with top-down views of Court drawing.
If you’re familiar with Stan’s teaching style from his other videos then you’ll notice Court follows a similar cadence & method of teaching.
It still feels very unique, but it blends nicely into the overall Proko brand—including the usual humorous bits that always get me smiling.
You can actually get a taste of Court’s teaching style from the promo video on the Proko YouTube channel.
In fact many of the caricature videos have been released in smaller snippets on YouTube. All freemium videos are listed in this playlist if you wanna go through and preview them for yourself.
Keep in mind these videos are just a taste of the premium course so they’re merely a sample of what you’ll get.
Art of Caricature Course Overview
The Art of Caricature breaks down into two parts. This spaces out the types of lessons you’ll learn so they’re more focused and linear.
Part 1 teaches the concepts of caricaturing from the ground-up. These ideas take you through the entire process from thumbnail sketching to finishing a completed drawing.
Part 2 is more about practicing those techniques with live examples while building on top of that foundational knowledge. You might consider this course like a “novice to expert” video guide on caricaturing.
As of writing this post only the first part has been fully completed. Part 2 is at least halfway done as well, but Court’s still releasing some lessons for that. Here’s a general breakdown of the chapters in the first section:
Let’s Review(wrapping up everything)
Each chapter includes many sub-topics with relevant videos.
For example the first chapter “Exaggeration” talks about the history of caricature, how to exaggerate properly, and includes a narrated caricature drawing from start to finish.
The 2nd part of this course is primarily examples & practice exercises. Each chapter in the 2nd part teaches a different technique like crafting a checklist of features for your caricature, or how to gather ideas from other caricature artists.
Most of these chapters include 7-10+ video lessons each featuring a different exercise. And these lessons feature well-known figures as practice subjects ranging from James Franco to Bill Clinton and Abe Lincoln.
Each part sells for $89 separately. But you can buy both parts together and get the full course for $153, saving you about $25 overall.
This price feels close enough to other Proko premium courses and it’s reasonable considering you won’t find many other in-depth caricature courses online.
However the $25 savings isn’t really a huge deal.
So you might try the 1st part to see if you like it, then grab the 2nd part if you want more.
Account Dashboard & Course Assets
Once you sign up to the course you can log into the Proko site and get full access to all your new videos.
From the backend you can browse through all chapters, all exercises, and all the course assets including downloadable premium study guides & photo references.
All the videos come as streamable embedded players that you can view in your browser. You can also download the videos directly to your computer as 1080p HD MP4 files.
I’m always stunned by the quality of Proko’s videos and this caricature series is no different.
The audio & video quality is superb and Court’s teaching style really shines through all of it.
Note you can stream these vids from your phone or tablet but it may be easier to download the videos and move them over to your device instead. This way you don’t need Internet access to watch.
But along with the video pages & all the downloadable assets you’ll also get access to a Facebook group just for this caricature course.
You can share your work for critiques, comment on other’s work, and pick up tips from all the other discussions.
Proko’s FB groups always feel like a small support community and they’re worth joining if you need help along the way. Granted the FB group isn’t going to make or break this course. But it’s certainly a nice addition!
I should also mention all of this course’s reference photos come in HD sizes from 2000px to 4000px or larger. So when you get the premium course you have access to all the raw photos that Court uses in his lessons.
HD photos, HD videos, downloadable assets and a very simple premium dashboard. Overall a great experience and the files are super easy to access from any device.
What You’ll Learn
The goal of this course is to teach the fundamentals of caricaturing with practical examples.
You won’t be studying caricatures from afar, nor will you be left fawning over Court’s work(well, maybe a little).
Instead you’ll spend your time practicing caricaturing which is really the only way to improve.
Early videos teach many “basic” concepts with examples and smaller exercises for getting your feet wet. Then as you progress forward you’ll work through longer exercises based on very specific techniques.
Not all exercise videos are super long but they are narrated & educational.
For example the thumbnail sketching exercise videos average between 2-5 minutes each. But there are some videos that push towards 10+ minutes long.
Also at the end of each chapter you’ll get an hour-long critique video from Court. These critique vids analyze submitted work from Proko students who ask for critiques after each section. Court shares his advice along with a few draw-overs for dozens of people.
This is wildly useful not just for the people whose work gets critiqued, but also for people watching at home. By watching Court’s many critiques you’ll learn what to avoid and what you may be doing wrong(or right!) in your own practice work.
So what exactly will you learn from this caricature course?
Probably more than I can write, but these are the skills you’ll pick up the most:
Sketching ideas & fast iteration
Practicing portraits from reference
Observing proportions & relationships
Making your own characters from real people
Capturing a likeness of certain features(eyes, hair, nose)
One of my favorite sections in Part 2 involves memory sketching. This builds upon the idea of drawing from imagination which is crucial for anyone who wants to make cartoons or comics.
You’ll find tips throughout this course that culminate into many “a-ha!” moments that help improve your eye, your hand, and your imagination.
The Art of Caricature course will help to push your non-realist drawing skills up quite a few levels if you follow these exercises and just keep practicing.
Who Can Benefit From This Course?
This caricaturing course is not for a complete newbie. You really need to feel comfortable holding a pencil and have some experience drawing.
Since caricaturing is exaggerated portraiture you’ll do well by studying portrait drawing first.
Try to get comfortable drawing from life first, even somewhat realistically, before trying to push forward with caricaturing.
So how do you know if you’re at a level where you can comfortably work through these caricature lessons?
Not an easy question to answer. But generally speaking, if you feel at least somewhat comfortable drawing from life and/or from reference photos then you should be able to move into caricature with relative ease.
You do not need a professional skillset to learn from Court’s exercises.
Although it really helps if you understand your art fundamentals first so you’re not worrying as much about form, perspective, or proportions. Caricaturing is mostly about manipulating fundamentals to exaggerate them in a specific way.
It’s tough to do that if you haven’t grasped the fundamentals yet.
So to work through this course it helps if you already feel comfortable drawing from references. No need to be amazing, just OK will do the trick.
Now with that said, what kinds of artists most benefit from studying caricature?
Court says almost everyone, and I’m inclined to agree. But I specifically recommend this course for anyone that wants to create:
Comic books or webcomics
Most cartoonists use exaggeration every day to create funny drawings that hold a hint of realism.
This remains true for all cartoons from the newspaper funnies to DC Comics and Disney Animation storyboards.
I can’t say this course will make you an expert cartoonist. But it’ll teach you the main concepts behind cartooning and help you exaggerate your ideas in a more realistic yet entertaining style.
When I first learned about this course I wasn’t sure what to think. I had no idea what to think. Most Proko courses focus on realist art & core fundamentals, so this was a big shift in a new direction.
But Court handles the topic very well and his teaching style blends seamlessly into Proko’s well-known style of narration.
Video quality is impeccable, the exercises are crystal clear, and you won’t find a better course on exaggeration anywhere else. Court takes the idea of caricaturing and breaks it down from a type of art into a fundamental technique that everyone should learn.
My only warning is for complete newbies with little-to-no prior art experience.
This caricature course will feel overwhelming for a complete newbie so if you’ve barely drawn anything in your life start with Proko’s figure course instead. It offers a smoother introduction to drawing and it’ll pave the way for you to switch into this caricature course later.
Although if you’re pretty comfortable with sketching and drawing from reference then Court’s Caricature series will help you build confidence and accuracy in your work, especially in your imaginative work.