Sketching People Digitally and Traditionally

Where is the best place to go to if you want to sketch some people. I would recommend you sit in a coffeeshop or more popularly known as kopitiam in Singapore, or go to a food market and food center, order yourself a drink and sketch  away.

Coloured Pencils on sketchbook

People standing in line is my favourite. Everyone stands differently. One may rest his weight on one leg, while another would fold his arms. Everyone is dressed differently too. One great way to find out what’s the fashion trend is to observe everyone in the line. I would go to a stall that has the longest line and a slow moving one too. Anyone person would stay in the line for at least 2 minutes, which is long enough to capture the gesture, the stance, the shift of his weight, his clothing, and sometimes his facial expression if you are fast enough. I would keep the facial details to a minimum unless you decide to make a portrait of the person. To do this, you may need to go up close to someone sitting or standing still for a longer period of time.

Apple Pencil on iPad Pro with Procreate

When I sketch with my iPad, I would usually not look suspicious unless someone come over to see what I’m doing. It’s quite unlikely that someone would do this. Everyone plays with their iPad or smart devices all the time. Having one does not put you in the spotlight anymore. That said, someone came over when he saw me using the iPad Pro 12.9″ and exclaimed loudly to me, “What are you using here? I have never seen a tablet so big before.” If you want to prevent that from happening, you may now purchase the iPad Pro 9.7″ which is less conspicuous.

It doesn’t mean that people who are sitting down do not move at all. They move all the time, looking from right to left, pointing, gesturing, talking, waving, leaning back and forward repeatedly. No one can keep still for long period of time. I timed it again. I have a window period of 1-2 minute to capture the gesture before the person move. Still, there is enough time. Saving grace is, he or she remains in her location for long period of time. At least 10 minutes. You may wait for the person to resume the angle you were drawing and then fill in what you have left of. I save the details like folds and patterns to the last too. You may also find yourself drawing from your knowledge of anatomy too as you may not get back the same pose you were drawing before the person move. Drawing from life is not like drawing in a life drawing session. That’s the fun. Things change all the time and people are always on the go. The challenge is to draw enough details to show the essence of the person and the pose. Every second is decision making, at the same time pushing your line expressions to give the artwork or sketch a stronger visual statement. 😀

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