Putting people into your sketches

We all avoid putting people into our drawings because we ‘can’t draw people’. Well you can! The advantage of putting people in is that it brings your landscape to life and it gives a scale to your drawing. We aren’t talking about detailed portraits, but just capturing the human element.

Take a look at this sketch of a town square in Italy:


There are a few people wandering about. Look closer and you will see they are ‘carrot people’. Their body, from the shoulders down is the shape of a carrot, with a circle for a head (the head is about one eighth of their height). Very simple, but enough to give a bit of a population:


Of course you might want to have people closer to you, so you will need to go beyond carrots!

In this pub sketch, I wanted a few folk enjoying a beer:


Looking closer:


So how can you learn to do quick sketches of people before they get up and move?

This is where PostIt notes come in. A pad of PostIt notes sits comfortably in your hand, you can do quick sketches on the train, waiting at the bus stop etc with no one noticing. This will not only help you catch a person in a few squiggles, but will give you a library of ‘clipart’ for future drawings should the subject get up and move before you capture them. I suggest the PostIt pad, as you can keep the ones you like and stick them in your sketch book; you can throw others away. You will be more relaxed as it is ‘only’ a PostIt pad and I think you will be pleasantly surprised what you can capture in a minute or less. People in queues or smoking areas are handy, as they stay still more….

Here are some – I did these in half an hour at break neck speed:


Looking closer, you can see it’s a woman in a thick coat with a hood and wearing a hat, with a bag over her shoulder – all from a few squiggles:


So, have a go. Try and do it regularly and you will become more confident and faster – also you will have an amazing resource should you need to come up with some population.

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