Part 4, Project 5, Exercise 2: Groups of figures

‘People watching’ is a good way to understand human movement and interaction. This might be at the supermarket, on a bus or train, in a pub or café, cinema queue or takeaway. Night or day, observe different kinds of people – how they stand, how they interact, what they carry, what they’re doing with their hands, and how they dress. If you can do a few small and quick sketches on the spot, that’s great. If not, take a few discreet photos and try to keep the atmosphere of the scene in your memory until you return home, then try to recapture the colour, movement, drama, noise, etc., in your sketches.

How successful were your attempts to retain an image of a scene to draw later? How might you tackle this in future? Make some notes in your learning log.


This is a sketch done from the car at an athletics training meeting.  In essence I think it captures the moment and I had time to observe different people coming and going.  I spoilt the picture by trying to use a brush pen to enhance it- I wish I had taken a photo before I added that.


In this sketch I was experimenting- trying to capture the feel of a crowd/ milling group of people without getting bogged down in detail (a bad habit I would love to break!!)  I think it is much more effective than the sketch above as it leaves the viewers imagination to fill in the blanks, whilst still being very clear about what it is meant to be!  It has a sense of movement- people are entering and leaving the space!


I tried doing some drawing in a cafe- this is a composite picture- again people arrived and left during the time I was drawing.  They did at least sit relatively still!  I have not had time to develop this into a final picture.


Again- I tried drawing a group of people sat around tables in the sun outside the window from where I was sitting.  This was a greater challenge as they were all quite dynamic and kept moving/ and going in and out of the cafe!  I would have loved more time to really work on this- but in the time I had the dimensions/ perspective and general drawing was all wrong!!

These are both sketches that might be used to lead onto a more finished picture.  I have a feeling they are neither one thing nor the other.  As reference material to be used later in a final drawing they are a little staid- I got bogged down in detail again rather than thinking about the sense of place and atmosphere.  I didn’t have time for detail really as people moved about far more than I would have liked!!  I took some photos and will try to work on them later.

recapture the colour, movement, drama, noise, etc., in your sketches.


I am really pleased with this drawing.  It is only on a piece of A4 black paper but I really like the effect and the atmosphere the style captures.  I was influenced to try using aquarelle crayons on black card after looking at the work of Fred Hatt– which I really like.  The lines in this are in a completely different style to his work, but I liked the way the people were lovely built up in layers starting from mid tones and slowly overlaying light and darker tones to encourage the forms to emerge.


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