Difference between Cartoon and Caricature

Key Difference: A cartoon is simply a two-dimensional visual art. Originally the term was used in the Middle East to refer to a preparatory drawing for a piece of art, such as a painting, fresco, tapestry, or stained glass window. A caricature is described as a portrait that has exaggerated features of a certain person or thing. A caricature can be rendered in two ways; it can either be oversimplified or exaggerated.

Cartoons and caricatures can easily be confused as they both seem quite similar in nature. These both can be confused as the other at the first glance as they are both sketched by hand and bear heavy resemblance. Cartoons and caricatures can be found in newspapers, magazines, with caricatures being more popularly referred to as Political Cartoon. Hence, caricature is a type of a cartoon or a subset of a cartoon. Let’s look at these two terms separately.

A cartoon is simply a two-dimensional visual art. Originally the term was used in the Middle East to refer to a preparatory drawing for a piece of art, such as a painting, fresco, tapestry, or stained glass window. These days cartoons are non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting that is intended for satire, caricature or humor. Cartoon can also be used to refer to the one or three-panel strips that are found in newspapers and magazines. Many cartoons these days have become associated with children and have also been designed with similar plot lines that are acceptable for kids. Many cartoons cover the concept of good vs. evil or have morals at the end of the stories in order to teach kids certain values.

The term ‘cartoon’ has been derived from Italian ‘cartone’ and Dutch word “karton” meaning “strong, heavy paper or pasteboard.” There was used to describe a full-size drawing that was made on paper or a sturdy cardboard that was used as a model for the painting, stained glass or other art forms. Cartoons then transitioned to print media where cartoonists would draw realistic or semi-realistic images to describe funny situations that happen around us. Cartoons can be found in print or in animated form.

A caricature is described as a portrait that has exaggerated features of a certain person or thing. A caricature can be rendered in two ways; it can either be oversimplified or exaggerated. In many cases both exaggeration and oversimplification are used together, where certain features will be exaggerated, while the rest are oversimplified. For example a more detailed and prominent head, while the body would be plain. Caricatures are often used in political or social situations as a satirical illustration of a person, place, thing or situation. Caricatures can be done to shed light on a controversial point, entertainment or to insult a person. British caricaturist Ted Harrison states regarding the subject of a caricature, “A caricaturist draws on (1) the natural characteristics of the subject (the big ears, long nose, etc.); (2) the acquired characteristics (stoop, scars, facial lines etc.); and (3) the vanities (choice of hair style, spectacles, clothes, expressions, and mannerisms).”

The term ‘caricature’ is derived from Italian ‘caricare’ meaning “to charge or to load.” English doctor Thomas Browne defines the term in his book Christian Morals as, “When Men's faces are drawn with resemblance to some other Animals, the Italians call it, to be drawn in Caricatura.” According to Sam Viviano, a caricature instructor at the School of Visual Arts, the term is used to depict real-life people and situations and cannot be used to refer to fabrications or cartoon-like characters. The oldest caricatures can be dated to the time of Leonardo da Vinci, who used people with deformities as models for his drawings.

The major difference between a cartoon and caricature is the element of realism. A cartoon can be fabricated and use un-realistic scenarios, while caricatures require real people and scenarios that are used as models. Cartoons also may be purely for entertainment or education. However, caricatures are commonly used to create a statement, a point or spark a discussion about ongoing controversial topics. Cartoons have also become more associated with children and depict similar storylines such as good vs. evil or oversimplified plot lines. Caricatures do not require a set storyline but usually has a one-panel drawing that depicts a certain situation or the main character. These days caricatures are done at carnivals and fests as an portrait form.

Image Courtesy: amazingwallpaperzz.blogspot.com, fanpop.com

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