XD It's hard for me cause I focus on recreating exact photo's, I've got this crazy perfectionism. Makes caricatures and cartoons hard for me. But I love when people like you are able to create very photo realistic photos!
I know what you say. You're relly good copying. But, the secret is to, not only copy what you see, but UNDERSTAND it. Study it, understand the construction of the head, the anatomy, the shapes and the volume. Then you can take that information and make whatever you want, exagerate it, make it bigger, smaller, etc...
With your awesome painting skills, if you learn how to do what I say, you can become a really unstopable artist.
Yeah and acctually I do do that, but instead of caricatures, I draw my cartoons. The trouble I have is when I try to draw a simple cartoon I end up drawing so many lines and then by the time I color it, it's like a portrait. XD But I am able to draw people without recreating a direct reference, though I am better at recreating something down to the last detail. But I have been working on what you said, creating things not souly based on a reference, I have trouble exaggerating though, cause I like trying to get it as close as possible to the person as I can, you know. Caricatures aren't really my thing, but that's why I respect artist like you who do that.
And I totally know what you mean, I study the people I draw like CRAZY, Like I love learning someone quirks just to get a better grasp on how to draw them and how they act. Plus even knowing how someone carries themselves makes drawing them so much easier and natural. And I'm finally able to create, atleast a fairly realistic portrait without a direct reference, usually with digital painting for me it's not drawing the person, it's getting all the lighting and colors correct XD.
But alas I'm still improving, and working on stuff like that. I think I've done a pretty good job without a single art class XD But I've got quite a ways to go!