Caricature Class with Tom Richmond

On June 9th, 10th and 11th of 2017 I participated in the Tom Richmond Caricature Workshop held in the Pittsburgh area. I was the odd duck in the workshop because of my background, or lack of one, in art. For the last 40 years I have been a woodcarving hobbyist. I have no experience in drawing or sketching but really like the art of caricature and the humor it provides. The other students ranged from seasoned live caricature pros to professional cartoonists/comic book artists and animators.

I met Tom several years ago in Pittsburgh and watched him in action. I knew he had a lot to offer so when I saw on his blog,, that he would be hosting a workshop 8 miles from my house, it seemed like a sign to make the leap. When I contacted Tom to tell him of my interest and experience, he assured me I would benefit from the class and would not spoil it for the other students. Although I must have been a challenge for Tom, his encouragement and individual direction gave me confidence to improve as the workshop proceeded.

As Tom hoped in his opening remarks, I am now seeing faces in a new way.  It remains to be seen if I can apply the vast amount of this new insight to my carvings. I’m excited to make this happen.

I’m also glad I had the opportunity to see the many aspects of Tom’s profession. I appreciate the skill and effort required to produce the art we see every day in political satire, advertising, graphic novels and comics.

Tom’s vast knowledge, skill, humor and willingness to share make him an invaluable asset to the industry. I would encourage caricature carvers, who are ready to expand their skills, to make an effort to attend Tom’s workshop. I still have many hours ahead to perfect the techniques from the class but I know it’s possible. I felt a lot of pressure during the drawing exercises, but that is what it takes if you’re serious about learning.

You can get a good sense of the workshop content by visiting Tom’s blog and clicking on the Workshop icon.


Here are the participants in the Pittsburgh workshop.

Here are some shots taken during an inking demonstration.











Tom explained the process to produce the artwork for a MAD Magazine feature.








Tom used a laptop and drawing pad to project his drawings while he described his techniques.

Carving Foam

Last month I met an artist from a nearby Ohio town. When he learned I was a woodcarver, he asked if I had ever tried carving high-density urethane. I’ve carved the rubber centers in golf balls, the core of softballs and Potatowood but never urethane. I learned that this HDU is used for sign making and is designed to be durable enough for outdoor use. My new friend, a sign maker, uses power routers, Dremels, pneumatic tools and saws to shape the material on a larger scale than I work, but I was interested in trying to use regular woodcarving tools. I was told the material is very expensive so my friend keeps his larger scraps, just like me with my wood scraps except I seem to keep everything. He generously gave several pieces to me for experimental purposes. The scraps are 2 inches thick but can be laminated to increase that dimension.

I have two densities now. One is called Signfoam and at 15 pounds per cubic foot, it’s easier to use of the two. It’s white with a smoother surface when carved. The second type, from Jasper Products, is darker with a grainier rougher carved surface. At 18 pounds per cubic foot, it doesn’t appear to be as dense. I can’t explain the logical contradiction except that it is a different compound.

I prefer the 15 PCF foam but, in both densities, a slicing cut is required. I used a carving knife for most of the work. A gouge will work but only if it’s rotated to make a slicing cut. A V-tool is not very effective because it’s usual cutting method tends to crush the material and a slicing action is difficult. I had to resort to using a knife for making hair.

Here is a link to a vendor if you want to learn more.

The first two examples are from the Signfoam.

This is an example from the Jasper Products foam. You should be able to see the rougher texture.

I still have some of both left so I may do some more experimenting. It is interesting but I’ll stick to Basswood for now.