The purpose of this exercise ‘is to introduce you to observing figures’.
Key words from the brief:
- Start with someone you know
- Draw them doing what they do everyday or when you usually see them
- Do some quick drawings and at least one longer sketch
- You may just focus on the face, part of the figure or the entire person and may include key props
- Some are made with only a few considered lines and details and others made with solid shapes and possibly more visual information
- As you draw think about the process of choosing adjectives and focus on what you are saying about your subject, or what features are interesting to you
Crowds and activities
- Choose somewhere that is populated
- Think also about how you might approach drawing groups of people
- It should help if you concentrate not on them as an individual character or personality but describing their basic shapes, or the shape of the activity or crowd as a the whole, or how they connect with the space they are in
- If you’re still inspired by it, go back to your first route. Build up sketches of different people on the same page of the sketchbook
I draw figures very frequently on my daily commute and have included the ones drawn during the two weeks I was working on this exercise. It’s one of the few places I’ve found where the subject will stay still for 15-minutes usually reading or checking social media.
All the drawings were made in an A5 sketchbook.
Additionally I also did some sketches at home with family as they watched TV – a good time to get them to stay still for any length of time.
I had a lightbulb moment (which in hindsight is blindingly obvious but for some reason I hadn’t tried it before), and started using my dip pen with Ecoline liquid watercolour. This was a real revelation and I was quite excited by the results.
The pictures are A3 sized.
Crowds and activities
I used this exercise to develop what I’d started in Assignment 1 Recording and sharing your work. I was comfortable drawing crowds of commuters at Waterloo Station but felt that I needed to develop my visual language and/or drawing skills to more accurately describe posture and achieve greater fidelity with the figure drawing.
Rapid crowd drawings
I’ve split these rapid drawings out from the rest of the sketchbook because they were a mini project in their own right and it’s interesting to see how the visual language evolved over the two-weeks.
I wanted to use my observational drawing to capture people walking purposely to work. It became clear to me from drawing individuals at Waterloo Station that I needed a different approach. I can’t work fast enough or accurately enough to meaningfully capture travellers waiting for their trains let alone pedestrians walking past me on a pavement.
I found a perfect spot. A coffee shop that sells reasonable coffee and overlooks a fairly busy London street very close to the Guild Hall. I stopped at this cafe on my way into work, ordered a black americano and took up a seat in the window. I did this for 7-days and sketched for around 25-minutes each day.
The window was narrow and it took a pedestrian about 2-seconds to walk past. I knew this would force me to think and draw differently.
I realised I found drawing legs that give a realistic sense of movement a real challenge.
For my final crowd drawing experiments I drew parents and coaches watching kids playing Sunday football. I thought this would be a good subject because it’s easily accessible for me; my house overlooks playing fields that are always packed with Sunday footballers. Unlike the Waterloo Station commuters who may stay still for a couple of minutes at best, parents watching football stay still for much longer.
What went well
- The rapid drawings demonstrate an interesting progression in visual language. They were fun to draw.
- Using liquid watercolour with a dip pen was a great discovery.
- I feel much more confident drawing in crowds.
What I could do differently/better
- When I was drawing at a rush hour Waterloo Station I just couldn’t draw fast enough to capture figures with any level of fidelity. I’ll need to take photographic reference as well as rapid sketching to collect this level of reference.