Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sketching People in Motion Craftsy class with Marc Taro Holmes

A sketch from this week in a café - 6 weeks after starting to use Marc's concepts.
Adding people to my sketches on location has always been a challenge. Particularly when I'd devote an hour or two trying to capture a building and then fear I'd destroy the overall image with distorted out of proportion figures that had nothing of the conviction I might be able to give my building.  However through Sketchbook Skool classes it became more and more clear that in order to communicate all that I want to in my sketches, to tell a story,  I needed people to complete most scenes.  Finally, I seemed to have found what would get me regular sketching people live in Marc Taro Holmes Craftsy class "Sketching People in Motion".
Live sketches from a week or two of using Marc's technique.
 Marc's style is I think quite unique to him and at first it seemed foreign and unlike my own work to add such things as a vertical shading/background line. But by having the focus of following a set method I seemed to be sketching without worrying about what people looked like until I'd made my way through all the stages. Only at the end of it did I stop to assess the sketch to realise I'd drawn a couple of people, sufficiently proportioned, telling a bit of a story. That they didn't always look recognisably like the people in front of me ultimately became irrelevant and liberating. I know that will come with further practice if I want it to.
3 weeks ago - Having to sit in waiting room became a joy - great time to study people!
I dedicated a sketchbook solely to sketching people live and ensured it was the only one I carried with me. Trying to keep myself honest to my commitment I didn't allow any food, coffee or building sketches in this sketchbook - if I had time to sketch, it had to be from live people. After getting a bit more confidence in doing this I started moving back toward more of what I think is my style and away from Marc's. One particularly huge help for me in Marc's strategy is being able to get the gesture and general shapes down in pencil first. I like sketching straight out in pen first often as it feels quicker but to get proportions right and get my confidence up, the pencil first approach is a great advantage to start with.
Last week - Watercolor first (no pencil) then pen after.
In the past week I have also been playing with watercolour first on some occasions (no pencil) which I still lose a bit of proportion on, but I find it fun and relaxing. My aim now is to keep up with the regular people sketching, maintain using Sktchy app once or twice a week (keeping familiar with faces up close helps me when people leave or are moving their head about a lot), move onto Marc's more advanced techniques (much of the above is based only on the first part of the Craftsy course) and learn more about communicating gesture, relationships and actions.
I would love to know what has helped you with sketching people live?


  1. Great sketches and inspiring to see you roaring ahead with this topic!

  2. I think my comments are working now.
    I have not sketched people in urban settings, only as models. However, I do sketch animals in various settings and I find that the regular practice of sketching in pencil to establish movement and context really helps in freeing me up to finish the sketch. I think maybe a few days of just quick sketching without expecting to formalize them afterward could be a really helpful exercise. Doing this also helps me to remember what I saw. If I know where I'm going to be sketching the animal or even moving cars or plants, I try to put in a sketch of the environs first, and then place the subject within it. It takes a lot of practice to get these things down quickly, but I also think the briskness of the lines gives the ultimate drawing the movement it requires!
    I love the work you've done here. I think you've got it, frankly! But we all have to make our own determination. I hope to draw people as well one day.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment - I'm glad you persisted in getting it to work! I think its interesting that you sketch the environs first before adding the main subject - I might try that! I agree about those first, often quick lines are the ones that capture the movement. When over reinstated they sometimes feel to lose their liveliness. I see that keeping on practice seems to be the key.. the hours you put into the study and preparation then to complete the actual sketch/drawing itself in as few reworks and lines as possible. Thanks for your kinds words!

  3. I draw the people first, as they're the interesting things....and they're going to leave. Only when they are drawn and painted (assuming I'm painting them) do I draw the setting...because it ain't gonna move.


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