Wood caricature carving tutorial

Carving our “Yippie Hippie” is easy with just a knife.

This wood caricature carving tutorial will teach you how to create a turned head, a technique that caricaturist Jack Price uses. The head turns toward the left so you can carve the nose off the corner. 

We used a small piece of wood for this wood caricature carving tutorial. You will be amazed at how much detail you can pack into such a tiny carving. If you want to use a larger block of wood, you can easily adapt this tutorial.

wood carving caricature Pinterest

What you will need for this wood caricature carving tutorial

  • Basswood block, size here is 1 x 1 x 3 inches (2.54 x 2.54 x 7.62 cm).
  • Carving knife of choice.
  • 1 60-degree angle V-gouge (if you don’t have one a knife will work).
  • Paints of choice (we use acrylic and water ratios are provided at bottom).
  • Pant brushes of choice (we used round brushes).
  • Carving gloves (stay safe!).
Hippie wood carvingCarve this small guy if you want a challenge

1. Draw your guide lines for the wood caricature carving

These lines will be used to guide your wood caricature carving as you define the:

  • Hat from the head (photos 1-3).
  • Head from the body (photos 1-3).
  • Feet (photos 1,2).

The shape will emerge more clearly as you get into this wood caricature carving tutorial.

Head-turned caricature carving1. Left side and front guide lines are drawn
Basswood block marked with carve lines2. Back lines are drawn
Right side of caricature pattern3. Right side view

2. Carve from the top down with this wood caricature carving

  • Round the corners on the top of the block.
  • Start to shape the hat using sweep cuts, which is a bit like sharpening a pencil (photos 4-7). You will finalize the hat later.
  • Separate the bottom of the hat from the head using stop cuts and removing wood from underneath (photos 4-7).
  • Make a small stop cut to mark the end of the chin (photos 4,5).
Chin marked on caricature pattern4. Hat is started, head is separated from the hat, and bottom of the chin is marked
Right side of hat on caricature carving6. Right side
Left side of carved hat5. Left side of wood caricature carving with bottom of the chin marked
Back of hat started on wood carving7. Back view

3. Separate the bottom of the head of the wood caricature carving

  • Separate the bottom of the head from the top of the body all around  (photos 8-11).
  • Using sweep cuts (or push cuts) remove wood from the top of the head to create an angle where  the nose will be carved (photos 8,9).
Face started on wood carving8. Head is separated from lower body
Hat and head separated on wood carving10. Right side view
Left side of face on caricature9. Left side view
Back view of hippie wood carving11. Back view

4. Define the legs/pants and feet of the wood caricature carving

  • Using a stop cut, remove wood from the front to define the legs/pants (photo 12).
  • On the back side, start your cut a little higher up than the front and remove wood to define the back of the legs/pants (photo 13).
Feet added to wood carving12. Legs defined in front
Back feet on wood carving13. Legs defined from the back
Caricature carving progress photo14. View from right side
Progress photo on wood carving15. View from left side

5. Draw initial details for the wood caricature carving

  • Draw an arm on each side and the bottom of the shirt (photos 16-19).
  • Start to round the shoulders and the back (photo 19).
Drawing lines on wood carving16. Front view with shirt line added
Right arm drawn on wood carving18. Right side view with arms drawn
Left arm drawn on wood carving17. Left side view with arms drawn
Shoulders rounded on little guy carving19. Back view

6. Define the arms of the wood caricature carving

  • Use stop cuts to define the arms all around (photos 20-23).
  • Add lines on the front and back where you will separate the legs (photos 20,23).
  • Remove wood to narrow the neck (photos 21-23).
Cut arms in front of wood carving20. Arms cut in front
Right arm cut on wood carving22. Arm cut (right side)
Left arm cut on wood carving21. Arm cut (left side)
Back view of hippie wood carving23. Arms cut (back view)

7. Carve additional details for the wood caricature carving

  • Make a stop cut to define the bottom of the nose and remove wood from underneath it (photos 24, 27). Also remove wood from each side of the nose.
  • Start to round the chin and the belly (photos 24, 27).
  • Separate the feet and narrow the legs (photo 26). You will separate the legs further later. 
  • Using stop cuts, separate the shirt all around (photos 24-27).
  • Using line cuts, further define the shoulders and arms on the back (photo 26).
Nose carved on wood caricature24. Nose is started and shirt and feet are separated
Head turned on caricature carving25. View from left side
Arms cut on back of wood carving26. Feet are separated in the back
Side view of nose on wood carving27. View from right side

8. Shape the hat for the wood caricature carving

  • Round the hat down into a beanie.
  • Notch the band of the hat. We used a 60-degree V-tool (3/18 of an inch). You can also use V-cuts with with a knife (photos 28-31).
  • Add smile lines around the nose and remove some wood to help create depth for the cheeks (photos 28, 29).
  • Use V-cuts to create the top of his shirt so his neck will show through (photo 28).
  • Add a peace sign if you want (we decided to go for a tie-die look with his shirt while painting).
Smiles lines on wood carving28.Defined beanie, smile lines, and T-shirt
Shaped legs on wood carving30. Right side view
Beanie from left on wood carving29. Left side vew.
Back view of beanie on wood carving31. Back view

9. Work on the sandals, face, and pants/legs

  • Remove wood on the feet to create a bulky sandal. Cut a line across each foot, creating a sandal strap (photos 32,33).
  • Carefully make small V-cuts to define the toes (photo 32).
  • Draw on the eyes, mouth, and two buck teeth (photo 32).
  • The eyes are carved in two steps. First, define the outline (photo 34). Then make a cut a little less than halfway across the eye to create a droopy eyelid (photo 35).
  • Carefully round the eyelids (photo 35).
  • Make a tiny triangle cut in each corner of the eye to add shadow (photo 35).
  • Shape and narrow the pants (photo 32).
Face drawn on caricature carving32. Feet are taking shape and toes will be cut. Eyes and mouth are drawn
Eye added to wood carving33. Toes, mouth, and teeth are carved
First step to cut an eye in wood34. Outline of eyes completed
Droopy eyelids added to wood carving35. Droopy eyelids are added

10. Carve the mustache, beard, and hairline

  • Carve the beard and mustache below the nose. We used a V-tool, but you can carefully use a detail knife. Some of your cuts should intersect (photos 36,38).
  • Use line cuts (or V-cuts) to separate the sides of the face from the hair (photos 36,37,38) and around the back of the head (right above the neck).
  • On the back, add another half circle to define shirt neckline (photo 39).
  • Split the legs/pants (photos 38,39).
  • Carve a curved line above where the legs are split to create the tush (photo 39) and remove a little wood below it.
  • Add some wrinkles to the arms and pants (photos 41-43).
Mustache and beard on wood carving36.The beard, mustache, and hairline on the sides are carved
Caricature carving prior to painting37. Left view
Front of wood carving before painting38. Front view
Back view of completed wood carving39. Back view

11. Paint the wood caricature carving

Painted caricature carving40. Front view of wood caricature carving
Little hippie wood carving42. Right view of wood caricature carving
Dry brushed wood carving41. Left view of wood caricature carving
Tie dye design on wood carving43. Back view of wood caricature carving

To get the same look as this wood caricature carving

All acrylic paints are from Craftsmart except where noted:

  • Teeth and whites of eyes: 100% titanium white paint (Artist’s Loft).
  • Shirt (first layer):  3 drops of titanium white paint (Artist’s Loft) and 5 drops of water.
  • Beanie: 1 drop of dark gray paint mixed with  4 drops of white paint (Apple Barrel) and 10 drops of water.
  • Beard: 1 drop of brown paint mixed with 1 drop of bright red paint and 20 drops of water.
  • Blue jeans: 2 drops of bright blue paint and 15 drops water.
  • Tie die design:
          -1 drop of yellow paint mixed with 1 drop of white paint (Apple Barrel) and 10 drops water.
           -Dry brushed accents: 100% cameo pink, 100% purple, and 100% yellow.
           -Using toothpick: 100% bright red paint.
  • Shirt (second layer): 1 drop of purple paint mixed with 1 drop of white paint and 20 drops of water. 
  • Flesh: 1 drop of burnt sienna paint (Academy) mixed with 1 drop of sun kissed peach paint and 30  drops water. 
  • Eyes: 100% bright blue (iris); 100% black (pupil); and 100% titanium white (Artist’s Loft) for speck.
  • Other dry bushed accents:
          -Nose and cheeks: 100% cameo pink paint.
          -Hat band: 100% dark gray paint.
          -Hair: 100% black (then sand a bit).

After painting, dip the carving in boiled linseed oil and set in on paper towels for 10 minutes. Wipe with paper towels and finish with polyurethane spray. Immediately dispose of paper towels in garbage outside as they can spontaneously combust. 

Wood caricature carving summary

  • If you are ready for a carving challenge, create the miniature-sized version of this wood caricature carving (otherwise use a bigger block).
  • This little guy offers fun little details that you can customize (tie-die or peace sign on the T-shirt).
  • Carving this Yippie Hippie makes a great gift for baby boomers!
  • See multiple tie-dye examples for inspiration here.


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