How to draw people sketches quickly. Drawing characters as a portion of your everyday urban drawing practice is great fun and great for improving your skills. But how can you draw visitors externally, making them feel uncomfortable? Drawing someone without them realizing it is a skill that can master as much as drawing itself. There are a few of easy-to-do methods you can understand.
Why you should draw people
Their free limbs, signs, and overall progress make human beings somewhat tricky subjects, it’s true. They never appear to sit still long rather. And, of course, they are often found in places with other people, noise, and lots of distractions. But precisely because of these complications, mastering people’s drawing will help you substantially improve your skillset. It is also an excellent practice for lotus drawing figures, composing, and spending time waiting for the train.
Is it okay to draw a newcomer out asking?
In truth, the solution is yes and no. It depends on how you stare at it and whatever your preferences and values are. It’s a bit of a gray area. I like to consider it in times of photography to view it correctly. Imagine walking up to a stranger on the street and taking a picture of him without asking first. If they notice this, they will likely feel a little uncomfortable, if not angry. And you would have no problem understanding why. When we draw, it often looks slightly different, although it is precisely the same situation in principle. Taking someone’s photo without permission is an invasion of privacy in many cultures. But in terms of urban design, the emphasis is on “similarity.” The likelihood of whether or not you will exceed the limits largely depends on the drawing you will make.
As an urban designer, his work is used to “take visual notes,” like a diary of what he sees during the day. It means you wouldn’t usually ask your human subjects to pose specifically for you. Instead, you would draw whatever and whoever catches your attention, ideally without them or anyone else noticing. The sketches themselves are usually quick, rough, and spontaneous. They’re not meant to be clean or super precise. Check out my ultimate guide to urban sketching for more on the subject.
Why not ask for permission?
They are being looked at, especially without knowing why it is not a comfortable experience for anyone. So why not go to the person, explain what they do, and ask if you can do a quick little picture of them? Because it takes the purpose. If you want to automatically capture a scene or movement that got your attention, getting yourself known will likely change that scene. If they know they are being watched, most people will notice and automatically twitch a little and adjust their posture, albeit subconsciously.
As a result, your subject will look less actual and natural, the exact reverse of what you were looking for. They may also feel obligated to stay in your position longer than they would without you drawing them, so you get in the way of their schedule. Also, asking someone will draw attention to you and most likely want to see the sketch when it’s done. It would be very unpleasant for any shy urban designer.
Some simple tips to avoid getting noticed
The best way to build great sketches of visitors is to do it so that they don’t realize that you are the object of your artistic attention. Some are just practical. Other tricks you can implement right away. The simplest way to be viewed as a minor “threat” to your subjects is to make it appear writing rather than drawing it. If they realize that you are watching for a moment, they will think that you are deep in your thoughts and it is a coincidence. If I want to be very careful, I will also use a regular pen instead of a pencil. This trick doesn’t work with watercolors or other artistic mediums. Another great way to make sure your unwitting subjects aren’t the wiser is to use your peripheral vision. In the case of sketches, you don’t always have to look at someone directly.
Good places to draw people
The best places to attract strangers to cities or towns tend to be where people are too busy with their lives to notice what’s going on around them. That’s why I like to draw in train stations and airports, as everyone usually has more important things in mind than observing the environment. Cafes are great because you can sit comfortably, often tucked away in a booth or back table, and your subjects generally don’t move significantly or quickly. But the best places to attract people are the performing arts centers. Any kind of theater, dance school or even concert hall is excellent because your subjects are used to being watched, it’s part of their job after all. For rehearsals instead of official performances, of course, you will need permission. It is very similar to how Edgar Degas practiced for his unique dancer paintings.
Situations where it is not OK to attract strangers
While it’s generally OK to make a quick sketch of a stranger without asking consent (see above), there are some places where it’s technically feasible, but it doesn’t feel right. Any condition that feels entirely private comes to mind, as do areas where the dress code is very relaxed (like swimming pools). Graves are great places to study view and still life (tombstones, flowers), but I wouldn’t recommend drawing mourners. The same goes for religious buildings. Again, perfect for architecture and intricate detail, it’s not suitable for drawing people.