Be sneaky

I just got back from such a fun weekend at the Chicago Sketch Seminar. It was a great event — fantastic organizers, gracious volunteers, enthusiastic instructors and talented participants. If you live near Chicago and get a chance to go to this next year, jump on it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

As a workshop instructor, I taught two workshops and had a chance to attend a couple of others. I love taking workshops and when I have a choice, I always take workshops that involve drawing people since it’s something that I can never get enough practice in.

The Saturday workshop I attended “Be Sneaky: Sketching People To Liven Your Urban Landscape” was taught by Nishant Jain, a writer and cartoonist who loves to draw people. It was great to hear him describe his fearless approach and he had some useful tips for drawing people in an urban environment. We started with quick gesture drawings of people walking on Wabash Ave, and then did a longer one incorporating some of the surroundings on the corner. I started with the lamppost and added the people in after.

He suggests starting with a contour drawing (look at the whole shape, not the individual parts of the figure) and then filling in the details later. I drew this guy the next day while waiting for breakfast.

One of Nishant’s tips was to start your drawing with what interests you. I loved this guy’s hat, which was on his head when I started the drawing. He took it off and put it on his suitcase so I drew the suitcase under the hat and then drew him on another page.

If you’re drawing someone and they walk away, move on to someone else. Or if they change positions, just start again like I did with the guy on the right. Sometimes you get lucky and you’ll catch someone napping which makes it really easy. The point of it all was just get in there and draw without being afraid. The more you practice drawing people, the better you’ll get.


11 Comments on “Be sneaky”

  1. karim waked says:

    Love the young man’s shirt 🙂

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  2. Prior... says:

    Thanks for sharing – and the phone guy at the end is my favorite of your drawings – also that street post and people – and the workshops sound fun

  3. Denise says:

    If you will be teaching a workshop at the event next year, we might have to schedule another road trip!. Thanks for sharing the people sketching tips. Your blog is always full of helpful hints.

  4. Bernadette says:

    Love the drawing of the hat that moved to so u drew it on his suitcase! I imagine looking back at your figure drawings makes you smile. Practice always helps improve skills. Thanks for the reminder and helpful hints.

  5. joantav says:

    How fun that you did his hat on the suitcase! These are really good. Sounds like his class gave a few helpful hints about sketching people in an urban setting. Nice sketches! I’ll have to see if I can attend the Chicago Seminar next year. This year I already had 2 big trips planned.

  6. Excellent post…valuable insights and info. I find that so much depends on how the head sits on the shoulders, and the angle of both. These sketches are great.

    Chicago 2020? Sounds good to me!

  7. Carsten says:

    Thx for sharing these sketches, Shari. So cool to see how different the participants Sketches from same location and time are. Your have a unique style in your sneaky Sketches here, I like it. I took Nishants workshop on sunday, and the Sketches from my group varied a lot between us. Chicago is worth a trip, for shure!

  8. Diane McDaniel says:

    love your work. thanks for sharing knowledge and love of all thing around! 🙂

  9. Judy Sopher says:

    This is very timely for me as I have recently decided that I really love drawing people I am trying to simplify figures as you did in the first one above. You do this so well. It is harder for me to do this than to do a realistic figure. But it is a challenge and I have to say-fun. Thanks for this post.
    It is very encouraging.


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