Drawing People in Crowds or Smaller Groups

When Drawing People in groups or crowds find a good vantage point or angle. A reasonable distance from your scene will give you vital seconds you will need. I will explain this later. Static crowds are easier when sketching so go where people are watching something. A football match or other sporting event, a fayre or a gymkhana. Even a shopping mall can be a fruitful hunting ground. People stop for a coffee and a rest. Gangs of kids hang around together.

My drawings of people below are made on typing paper with HB and 2B Derwent Graphic pencils. I have a clipboard I take out if I'm not using a hardbacked sketchbook. This works really well.

This is a quick guide but demonstrates the main principles of how I sketch from life.

1, Focus on one area and quickly block in basic shapes as shown with the Hb. I drew this rapidly. Circles, ovals and simple lines gave me a starting point. What I'm trying to do is get gestures correct, how people are walking, where they are looking, that sort of thing. You'll note I put in eyelines where possible.

2, I use the 2B to put details in.

3, A close up showing how simple the sketches are. Concentrate on what you consider the important details are. Clothes, hair, gender, age or whatever else you are interested in capturing.

4, This is a different part of the drawing. As we follow the crowd into the distance the figures are simpler. This is really mimicking how the human eye loses details the further a subject is from us.

5, The entire drawing. The distance from the crowd has aided me by giving me extra seconds to capture the figures I found interesting. I was also likely to see more interesting figures with a broader view. As many people as there are in this drawing they only represent a fraction of the people at the scene. This self editing is essential for Drawing People in crowds.

Click on the image to see a larger version. Opens in another window.

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