ED. NOTE: Comic Riffs recently launched “Heads of State,” a regular feature in which we deconstruct — via step-by-steep construction — how we caricature political leaders. Last time, we caricatured Hillary Clinton; today: Marco Rubio!
— M.C.

THE OTHER WEEKEND, in Washington, I sat poolside with MAD legend Mort Drucker and lapped up any lessons on caricature that might float by in conversation.

Now, Drucker, at 86, was in town to pick up a career award at an industry convention, as hundreds of colleagues saluted the master artist with the truly signature style. And as I listened, what came through most was that Drucker didn’t exaggerate features with any intention of being cruel; his brush was not dipped in poison malice. His style of caricature is to capture personality first, be it in John Wayne’s walk or even the stylish back of Cary Grant’s head, with the artist says had its own inky-black swagger.

And so today, Comic Riffs takes that approach, too, with GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio: The aim is to reflect, and amplify, something of his political personality.

Also, in a twist, Comic Riffs will offer two takes on Sen. Rubio, for illumination’s sake: I will take a cartoon approach to his caricature, and Post artist/designer Mark Giaimo shares his painterly approach to Rubio’s likeness.

Here is my cartooning breakdown:

1. Working from Googled photos, I sketch a thumbnail that has energy — particularly because Rubio often has his hands up, striking the air, when he speaks from the stump:

2. Turns out, I need a better shot — something that holds up as better “clay” — and I find a series of prime photos, with stretched neck and upward eyes, to mold from:

3. I sharpen the thumbnail with bold ink lines, to see what comes to the fore:

4. I go back to my pencil and begin to play with what I can stretch, and squash, and pull and exaggerate to amplify the lively tension:

5. Now I lay in a few colors to see how this visually play with the “lights” on:

6. When I survey Rubio’s face when he’s politically stumping, I see a man reaching for something he wants so badly. How to get across that visual “attitude” of ambition? Hm. Lemme think: What’s Rubio’s most noted on-camera “moment”? A-ha!:

7. Now I want to make sure all the “hidden” architecture lines up — not just Rubio’s eyes, but his entire being (from muscle fiber to hair fiber):

8. Now I pull back to do a “no-photo-blue” sketch to make sure everything stays fluid and loose — focusing on the essential shapes and lines:

9. Next, let’s bold in the “anchor” lines around which everything else is built:

10. Now we “flesh” out the face in full color:

11. Let’s tighten both bottle and face, with pen and ink, to sharpen and define:

12. Lay in the details and background — and heighten the strained sense that Rubio is “thirsty” (now with a fluid field of 16 candidates!) — and voila!:

Next time: We aim to catch up to this flock of candidates that is multiplying like Star Trek Tribbles.