Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sketching Tate Modern people

There's no great secret to how to learn to sketch people. You have to practice. You can of course go to life drawing classes and I would certainly advocate that as a very good idea for those who want to master the art of drawing people from life. However you still need to practice.

So if you want to practice you need to find somewhere where there are lots of people.

Tate Modern People
11.5" x 8.5", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in sketchbook

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

One of the best places for practising the weird and wonderful effects of foreshortening is the grass lawn in front of the Tate Modern on a sunny day. You can always guarantee there will be lots of people sitting or spawling on the grass, on their own, or with a partner or in a group. Accompanies by various bags and/or small children or both.

Here's what you do:
  • Sit yourself down on the rather nice big black benches on the Thames side of the grass.
  • Face Tate Modern
  • Start drawing.
  • Start with one person and then build from there.
  • Your sketch doesn't need to be exactly what you see in front of you - you can move people around
  • However do pay attention to their relative distance from you as that dictates relative size.
  • Fill the gaps - but also leave space between people - much as they do in real life.
  • You don't have to fit everybody inside the four lines of the picture plane - you can crop people right down the middle! It is allowed! :)
You can repeat this exercise anywhere where you can find people in the sun.

Where's your favourite spot for sketching people?

Note: This was the sketch I drew on my home from the Drawing London group outing to the Royal Festival Hall (see A view of Charing Cross Station and Embankment Gardens). On my walk home along the South Bank I stopped to draw this scene in pen and ink. I spent about 20 minutes on it and added the green to the grass when I got home.

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