Urban Sketching Essentials: Drawing People and Crowds Made Simple | James Richards | Skillshare

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Urban Sketching Essentials: Drawing People and Crowds Made Simple

teacher avatar James Richards, Author, Urban Sketcher, Travel Artist, Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Gallery of Examples Part 1


    • 3.

      Gallery of Examples Part 2


    • 4.

      Tools and Materials


    • 5.

      Building the Quick Sketch Figure


    • 6.

      Sketch Figure Proportions


    • 7.

      Using Eyeline and Sense of Depth


    • 8.

      Line Drawing Demo Part 1


    • 9.

      Line Drawing Demo Part 2


    • 10.

      Adding Color Part 1


    • 11.

      Adding Color Part 2


    • 12.

      Your Class Project


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About This Class

Are you a beginning or even seasoned sketcher that’s intimidated by the thought of adding people to your drawing?  You’ve come to the right class!  People are the life of the city, and drawing them into your urban sketches gives your drawing movement, character and energy.  This simple technique will have you drawing believable people and crowds in almost no time.  You’ll learn:

  • Why I start urban sketches by drawing people first
  • An easy, step-by-step method for building a human figure in a sketch
  • A simple way to remember correct human figure proportions
  • How to use an eye-level line as the foundation of any sketch
  • Using people to create the illusion of depth on the page
  • Using darks and color to bring the scene to life

This is a class for all skill levels.  I’ve taught this technique to everyone from professional illustrators to adults who hadn’t drawn since the age of six.  All enjoyed and learned from it, and so will you.  By the end of the class you’ll be sketching people and crowds for the pure fun of it, and ready to learn more in the next class in the series. Have fun!

Meet Your Teacher

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James Richards

Author, Urban Sketcher, Travel Artist, Designer

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction : Hi, I'm James Richards. Welcome and thanks very much for being here. This is essentials of urban sketching and it's the first of a series of classes I'm going to be doing for Skillshare. This one's called drawing people and crowds made simple. I'm an urban designer and I've spent decades designing great places for people. Part of the learning that craft involve traveling around the world, any opportunity that I got and learning the secrets of the world's most interesting places by sketching them. Now I'm a travel artist, an urban sketcher and writer and I teach sketching workshops all over the world. I'm also a long time instructor and correspondent for Urban Sketchers. I'm the author of Freehand Drawing & Discovery, published by John Wiley & Sons. Why start with people? People are the life and the heartbeat of any great city. They're the reason that urban places exist. More to the point for this class, I start almost all my urban sketches with a few people moving through the scene. I want to teach you why and how. Now this doesn't have to be a stumbling block for you. I've had lots of people over the years tell me they've never drawn people into their sketches. That they're basically afraid to. We're going to get over that very quickly. I'm going to teach you step-by-step, a relatively simple vocabulary for adding a person to your sketches, then a group of people, then a crowd, and by the time we're done with the class and you're done with your project, you're going to be adding people very naturally to your drawings and it's going to become an important part of your urban sketching repertoire. I'm really excited about this. I'm very confident that you're going to enjoy this and pick it up relatively easily. I'm super glad you're here and I can't wait to get started. Let's go. 2. Gallery of Examples Part 1 : Hi, welcome back. Before we start slinging pens around, I want to talk a little bit about sketching in general and urban sketching in particular. When we say sketching in general, we're talking about usually something that's done quickly, spontaneously to capture the essence of a subject. A lot of times it's preliminary drawing for a more involved drawing or painting later on like a painting sculpture or something like that, or perhaps a preliminary thought for design. Now, when we say urban sketching, that's actually a term that was coined by Gabriel Campanario, who's a journalist for the Seattle Times 10, 12 years ago. When we say urban sketching, we're talking about drawing on-location from direct observation, specifically to tell the stories about where we live and travel. It is a great way to see the world, to tell stories, to see and value culture. It's also a movement in which we share our drawings online with each other and with the world at large. That's largely what urban sketching is about these days, is not only doing the work, but sharing the work. People are very important to urban sketching. As I said earlier, I don't think there's anything that can add the life and movement and energy to a drawing that adding people can. Having said that, we're not talking about figure drawing, although I think that's very important. We're not talking about creating portraits or cartoons. What we're trying to do is capture the essence of the human activity that's going on there. Capture groups moving through, capture people talking to each other, sitting on benches and they don't necessarily have to be likenesses in order to do that. As a matter of fact, I like to play down things like facial features a little bit so that the drawing isn't necessarily about an individual in the sketch unless that's what you intend, but it's more about the overall environment that we're seeing it in and capturing the energy of that. What we're going to do now is look at a few examples that I think you might find helpful, I've certainly found them helpful over the years, from some books that you might enjoy and also from some of my own sketchbooks. I hope you find this helpful. Let's take a look at some references. This is a book by Norman MacDonald, called Artists on the Spot. He's one of these roving reporter. He is still working on assignments around the world, living in Amsterdam now, and this book is one of the ones that really made me want to start adding people to my drawings. This drawing in particular, it's not easy to see the people here because of this mass of form and detail on Florence's Duomo here. But look at this beehive of activity that's happening down here. People walking, standing in groups, moving through the same. There's just a lot of energy and movement, even at that small scale and it's important that they're there so that you get a feel for how big this building is. It's just absolutely tremendous. If you didn't have that as a measuring device, if you will, it would be hard to see how large that was. MacDonald does that with a lot of his drawings. This is a really nice study of church architecture, but it wouldn't be the same drawing at all without the people walking in front, the ladies and the children playing over here. Similarly with this one, it's lots of movement that's telling us that this isn't just a cold stone piece of architecture. This is happening in a city where people live and life goes on on a daily basis. This is one of my favorite drawings of MacDonald. These are monks in Thailand and one of the things that I really like about this drawing is that there's lots of monks in it. They're conversing, they overlap, they're walking in groups, they're walking singly. But the bottom of the drawing isn't defined by the edge of a frame or by shadows or anything like that. It's defined by their feet. That makes a really interesting shape when you look at this overall. Then you've got the detail of the spires and you've got the detail of these feet that enrich that big shape and make it much more interesting. This is a detail of that same drawing, and I'm glad that they put this in here because it really emphasizes the fact that these monks were probably drawn after some of the temple was just a restatement right on top of that line work. It adds a freshness and a casualness to it that makes it much more interesting in my view, and is really a stamp of something that's drawn on location. That's Norman MacDonald. This is David Gentleman whose work I also like a lot. I've got several of his books. He's based in England. This is his Paris book and talk about quintessentially Parisian with this four-story building, the narrow streets and this market with the beautiful awning on top. Look at all the people looking at tables, conversing with one another, pushing a baby carriage. Very simple shapes for their bodies and heads. A little more detail in the foreground figures, which again gives us that sense of depth. They're really close so that we can see that there's a gap and space between these people and those people. This is Notre Dame. If you've ever seen Notre Dame, this is how you probably experienced it as a big stone facade looming over you. But then with thousands of people down below taking each other's photograph and photographs of the building, that sort of thing. Again, very simple shapes drawn at different sizes so that some people look closer than others. That's a real key with this. Looks like that's a complicated scene, but it's really not. I'm going to show you how to do that very easily, I promise that. This really caught my eye because of the people. Notice how the building is drawn very stayed with the detailed, especially on the interior subdued, and then there's this wild crush of people down here and cars as well that add a tremendous amount of energy and excitement to the drawing. Again, restatement, people drawn on top of cars, people drawn on top of people. It looks like these people were probably added after a lot of the drawing was done and so glad that they were because wouldn't it be a boring drawing like that. All of a sudden Kapow, this is really an exciting city scene. 3. Gallery of Examples Part 2: So much for my house. This is a sketchbook from Vietnam, from the most recent journey that we took there, wonderful place to sketch, full of people. No place more so than the street markets. This is the one in Huaiyin and early in the morning, eightish or so, the streets are just elbow to elbow with people looking at produce, getting some shade under the stalls, walking back and forth. Here you see these people are greatly simplified. Again, very simple shapes, basically a rectangle, an oval head, and in this case with a hat on top, dropping a couple of feet down, close, further away, even further away. There's even a guy on a scooter here and all of these features and the fact that the guy was on the scooter and whatnot are things that I was really watching as I was out there and not necessarily trying to capture a portrait like this, but just trying to reflect some of the diversity that I saw. This is the Nissan Temple complex, temple ruins basically in the central highlands of Vietnam, a jungle environment. I wanted the sketch to have that heavy jungle humidity to it and whatnot. But also people because there were lots of people milling around checking out the ruins. I used these to create a focal point that was very important to leave that white to achieve that focal point and to add the dark around it but you can see some other bright colors. You can see some overlapping of figures which contributes to depth. You see some people way in the background that I've just shown in shadow to indicate that they're there but I don't really want to draw attention to them. This is the Cathedral in Domain. What I love about this drawing is that it was done very quickly in about 20 minutes because that's all the time that I had before being shoot off. I wasn't going to be able to stay very long. That's what I love about it, is that it looks hurried and therefore very loose and fresh, spontaneous and one of the things that makes it work, are all these people down here, notice again, very simple shapes, but they're human beings. They add some scale to the drawing. These people are drawn larger so they're closer to this. These people are drawn further away. These people moving through the same. You can see one leg in front of the other and that's very important to help convey a sense of motion, energy just interest, more interest to the entire scene. Heading for Europe now this is one of my Italy sketchbooks and this one turned out nicely. This is on the Island of Capri and you can see again, people in the pretty much foreground here, large rectangles, an oval head shape. They're walking away from me so I've just darken that to indicate hair. Brought leg lines down together to indicate motion. It looks complex. It's not. You can do this. I'm going to show you how to do this and you're going to laugh at how easy it is. As the people move out of the scene, they get smaller, less detailed. There's more people in the shade and they're drawn exactly the same way as these. I've just put some line work over them and then some great paint to really highlight this shaft of light. This is one that I really wanted to show you mostly because of this guy right here. He is in a group of people in Orvieto, Italy. People walking up the steps, people walking down this gallery here, further away. This person is drawn really large, which means he's close to us. Again, we've created a sense of three-dimensional depth on a two-dimensional sheet of paper. Pretty cool trick to pull off if you can do that and I promise by the end of this class, you will be doing it. There's some sketches from a recent trip around several places. This is Pisa. You'll recognize the Leaning Tower or some of you probably recognize the Duomo. But the thing that looks the most like Pisa is the crush of people that are in here. It seems every time I've been there, there are thousands of people elbow to elbow to go around and take cheesy pictures that make it look like they're holding up the Leaning Tower and whatnot. But there's no way to escape, there's no way to sit back and get a drawing done from a distance so that's how I drew it. This is my impression of Pisa with all these faces up-close notice they're very, very simplified and you can see some crowd in the distance, even places where it's blocked in its implied that the crowd is there so to me that's telling up pretty true story about what Pisa is about in my view. This is one that was done at Piccadilly Circus in London. Drawn on location as all of these are the statue of Eros is iconic. It's very recognizable as is the space that these buildings shape and it's another one of these places that regardless of the day or the time of day always seems to be filled with people. Look closely at this guy here. It's a rectangle with a semicircle indicating some a shirt neck, an oval for a head and a couple of pointy lines coming down to indicate feet. Similarly with this woman here. Similarly with all these people in this drawing, some have legs, one in front of the other that are indicating motion. This guy's drawn up close so again, we're establishing a sense of depth. But this drawing wouldn't work at all if it weren't for the people and a person who spent much time here would probably feel that there was something terribly wrong without even realizing why if there weren't people in the drawing. That's some of the things that I wanted to share with you with regard to how adding people to your drawing can really add another dimension of energy and excitement and movement. I hope you enjoyed that feeling inspired. Come on back and next we're going to talk about tools and materials. 4. Tools and Materials: Now we're going to talk about materials. I'm going to apologize in advance. There are workers outside, they've got serious work to do and you may hear a little of that in the background and that's just fine. That's life in the city. That's why it's urban sketching. Going to start with paper. For this class, you won't need a whole lot and it certainly wouldn't have to be top shelf expensive stuff. But, something like this little spiral pad, nine by 12 Strathmore watercolor paper. This is 140-pound cold press which is my favorite. As far as the tooth of the paper, we're going to be doing ink line work with watercolor wash on top of it. I like for that to be pretty smooth without going to hot press paper. I just like how watercolor works with cold press better. That's a pretty good option. This for me is a better option, is not really as you define unless you order it online. It's fluid, cold press, watercolor paper, 140 ponds. This is a nine by 12 but they make it in all different sizes and it comes in what they call an easy block, which is like a traditional block that's glued on all four sides but this one's only glued on two sides. That's very cool because it makes it a lot less frustrating to get your paper wrap. When I go out into the field, I usually carry one of two things. You won't need this for this class but I thought you might be interested. This is a Stillman & Birn Beta Series. It's a wire bound, which means that when I finish, if I want to give it away or someone wants to buy it or something like that, I can tear it out and I don't ruin the sketch book. It's a very smooth paper which is why I chose the Beta Series. As you can see takes ink really, really well. My workhorse for out in the field is the Moleskine. Some people say Moleskine. It's Italian, it's Moleskine, A4 watercolor album. It's got a lot of the classic Moleskine features like the rubber band that holds it together, and the envelope in the back where I like to put maps and stamps and those types of things. It does really well. I like this A4 because it allows me to do some things like, put several drawings on one page and add a beer label here and a stamp there, some notes that type of thing and it's really flexible in that regard. You can do a huge double-page spread and it's wonderful for that as well. But as I say, you'll need something much less ambitious just to get through this class. I would recommend getting at least 140-pound cold press. Now in terms of pens, there's all sorts of options. I work with two types of pens these days. A very fine line pen. Some type of a brush pen or a bent nib pen or something like that, that allows me to have thicker lines. We're going to work in black for this class. This is a humble uni-ball Eye Micro pen it cost about $1.12. I think it's a roller ball. It was given to me as a gift and I turned up my nose at it, until I drew with it. It's waterproof ink. It's almost jet-black. It writes like a dream. The fact that it's such an inexpensive pen I don't really worry about losing it. What I'm drawing doesn't feel quite so precious. That's an option. Same type of lines you can make with something like this. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen. For my purposes I like to use an F for fine. It's more of a little felt-tip, but as you can see very similar lines there. Something like a Micron. Again, permanent ink, relatively fine line, this is a 0.5. On the paper those are indistinguishable. This Eye uni-ball, I've been using most often because the nibs don't dry out, it doesn't run out of ink very easily. Void, it's practically indestructible. I appreciate that in a pen. Now, in addition to the fine lines, I like to have something that is going to give me a bold line, something that I can color in big areas of darks with. For those, I might use a brush pen like this Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen and you can see that there's a B on the biro and a B on the top of the cap. It literally is a brush pen. It makes nice variable lines that you can work really, really fast with when you're trying to cover some dark areas. That Micron that I just showed you also comes in a brush pen. This one's brand new so it's making some beautiful, beautiful variable lines here. Which you can also cover big areas like that, and that is a good choice. What I carry, not sure that I recommend this right out of the gate you probably want to start with a brush pen, but this is a sailor Fude, F-U-D-E. Some people say fude nib, which means that it's got a bent nib on this fountain pen like a calligraphy pen. That bent nib allows you to go from thick lines to thin lines and get all variable characterin that. When I'm doing large areas of darks, it looks a little scratch here a little more handmade perhaps, than using a brush pen. That's why over the years I've gravitated more to this for that type of thing. For the basic exercises and for the projects that we're doing, you really don't need anything beyond this 140-pound cold press watercolor paper, and a fine line pen and something of a brush pen or a fude day nib, thin lines, thick lines. That's really what we're talking about. We're going to move on into watercolor from there. That's why we're showing you the watercolor paper. Obviously you'll need some brushes. I wouldn't go for really cheap brushes but I wouldn't go for really expensive either, some synthetic sable or something like that, that you can get it an art store. I carry a little set of travel brushes. Eventually you may want to do that if you end up doing a lot of urban sketching. But 12, 10, and an eight will probably do just fine. Pointed and if you want to throw in a flat just for fun, that comes in handy. But I like the bigger ones for doing big lashes across the sky or something like that. Then I like the eight or a rigor brush for doing small details. I've got six here and I probably use three of them 90 percent of the time. They're the 10, the eight, and the rigor. You'll need some watercolors and there's lots of different choices for that type of thing. Ranging from these little pre-made sets like this one, that come with cake watercolors already in it. The colors are predefined. They're sold with a discuss some mixing areas over here. There are scores of different types of designs for this thing and it's a matter really of your personal preference, the color choices that they offer and if those floats you vote in terms of the types of color that you like to use. Prepackaged as an option. Another option is to get a pallet with empty pens and fill them from watercolor tubes with your favorite colors. I got this one from Daniel Smith years ago. If you look closely at it, it has really been through the ringer. It's a workhorse. If you're going to carry one of these into the field I think a metal one makes a lot of sense just because it'll hold up well. That one is relatively affordable. This is what I've been using for a while. It's not particularly affordable but you may be interested someday. It's handmade by Craig Young in England. It's got 16 full pens and I put my favorite 16 colors in there. It's got these big deep well mix areas. If you're just starting out I would really recommend you not do something like this. I'd recommend you do something more like this, the prepackaged things, and just see how much you like it, experiment. As you get more and more into it you'll graduate to more and more complex sets of watercolors and your own preferences. I forgot to mention when we were talking about brushes. A lot of people start out with these little water brushes. What's cool about this, is that there's a reservoir in it that carries water so you don't really have to carry water around with you unless you just want to have some extra. Pop off the top and there's a nice little nib in there and you can squeeze it and water just runs right out. You can squeeze more water onto what you're doing or just keep a wet nib, and that works really nicely. If you decide to carry some water, you're going to need some type of little container to carry it in. In the studio, I've just got a cheap little plastic container with a screw on top, and it works really well. In the field I've got this nifty camping cup. They don't make this particular one anymore but you can get similar things in kitchen stores and what not, it expands to hold lots of water and then it compresses down. Do not take up so much room in your bag. That's really nice. That's what we're going to be working with. Remember, for this class all you're really going to need is a thin line pen, a thicker line pen like a brush pen, the watercolor paper 140-pound cold press, a little subtle watercolors and that'll take care of us. 5. Building the Quick Sketch Figure: Hi, welcome back. We've got some inspiration, we've got our tools and materials. Now, let's draw people. I'm going to show you a way that I've been drawing people and sketches like this in situations where folks aren't posing, they're walking through, it's too quickly there to really capture a likeness, so you try to capture the spirit or an overall gesture, or a particular piece of clothing or something that's unique to them, that'll help you remember that later on. To do that, I've got a pretty quick way of going about it to try to capture these things as quickly as possible. I always start with an oval, like this, and that's of course indicative of ahead. I'm going to draw a very quick, loose rectangle, maybe a little more of a trapezoid or so, I certainly didn't make it very geometric and that's on purpose because people aren't geometric. They've got weird angles, and one shoulder higher than the other when they walk, and you're lumps and bumps and those types of things. I've got my trunk, I'm going to come down and pull down a leg, I made just a little tick mark out here where a foot could possibly be indicated. I'm going to pull down another leg, watch this, rather than having another leg with two sides, I pull that down into here. Why? Well, because we don't walk like this where you can see two legs all the time, we walk one leg in front of the other, like this. Watch people, you'll see what I'm talking about. I've pulled one leg behind like this because it makes it look like this person is walking to us or walking away from us, whatever you'd prefer. A couple of arms, let's say it's summer time which it is where I am, we'll make a couple of triangles there for sleeves and pull down an arm. Now, the hands on the end of the arm need to come just below waist level here, not way below where we've got gorilla arms and not too high, we've got T-Rex arms, but just right about here and so I'm going to these fingers, if you will. Sometimes I put opposable thumbs on these guys, I was an anthropology student and I know that with opposable thumbs you can use a make tools and build civilization, so I think that that's important. Another hand over here with an opposable thumb to complete the ensemble. Now, that's not a bad looking figure, it looks a little robotish because there's not any features on it or whatnot. I want to show you how we can take this real simple thing we've just done, add a very few details, and turn it into something that's really believable in a crowd situation. This trunk that I drew with two lines becomes a vest. If it's two lines coming together, it becomes a jacket, but for right now, we've got a vest with something under it, maybe it's a chest, when we put that, no, it's a t-shirt, he's got a little crew neck going there. I'll put on some pockets. Maybe this is a photographer's vest, an urban sketcher might carry a lot of pens and something like that. We're going to have mercy on this guy and put a little hair on the top, or maybe even a bill there and he's wearing a ball cap. In terms of more detail, little shade on this leg that's behind, he's got these clothes hanging over his pants so there's probably a little shadow there. That looks pretty good, that's starting to look realistic. I'm going to put a little shadow under there and maybe just a little there where the sun is coming this way and drawing a little shadow from the head over onto the shoulders. That's a pretty good level of detail for the type of thing that we're talking about. You could throw on a line for some eyes or sunglasses or something like that, but something like this is more than enough detail to be able to populate a scene without drawing too much attention to the figures themselves. Let's say we want to drop a female figure in as well. I've just put a bent rectangle on there to act as hair, not drawing individual hairs, but the overall shape of the hair. What's next? Trunk. Drop a couple of legs down. I'm going to do her the same way and pull one leg in front of the other. It's hot out, so we'll give her, it's either a short skirt or some shorts, it doesn't really matter in a sketch like this. We're going to pull her hands down, but we're going to make this a sleeveless dress. Oh, didn't come down far enough. Now, you see what I did just there? I messed up and I didn't throw my paper away, I didn't freak out or try to erase it, I just drew another one, that's what we call restatement. Just go over something until you feel good with it and embrace that little defect as something, it's like the scars in fine leather, it's proof that it's authenticity and you drew the thing right here on the spot. We'll give her a little shoulder bag, it comes down to her arm, what else does this lady need? Let's shade that inside leg. I just say not much else, I think we're pretty good to go with her. Now, you'll notice that when I draw these ovals for a head, they're not symmetrical, they're not straight up and down. This part, the left is pointing out further than this. Why is that? Well, it's indicative of a chin direction, which means it can tell us which way this person is looking, or if there's another one facing the other way, who he's talking to. I've got an oval, I'm going to draw a trunk. Now, here's something to pay attention to. Notice how these shoulders are sloping up and the hip on the same side is pointing down. Why would I do that? Well, it's another thing here, you see it on this. When people walk, the hips and the shoulders don't stay parallel, they're moving like this. If you watch people again closely on the street, or slow mo on your video camera or something like that, you'll see that that's actually what's going on. I've indicated a higher shoulder on this side, lower hip on this side. I am going to do something a little bit different, I'm just going to bring a leg down here and then pull one back like this, so we've got a little bit different stance, we've got a person that is possibly in movement, we'll give him a little attitude and a hand on the hips, the thing going on, what else can we do here? How about color for this person? Maybe he's got couple of pockets, that's looking pretty good. We go ahead and shade one of these legs, put a little shadow under here, here, here and maybe a little more hair on this guy, maybe some glasses. I don't like to go much further than that in terms of level of detail because then the figures start to call attention to themselves rather than being entourage and seen to bring life to it. Lots of ways that you can bend these figures, twist them once you get that basic vocabulary down. Here's an oval and I'm going to pull an action line down like this, shoulder up, hips coming down like this. I've really twisted that trunk this way and I'm going to have this leg follow that action line. This guy's running, he's done something bad, or possibly he's playing sports, soccer. Not that way to be be portrayed in a drawing, actually, we'll give him a little hair, he's keeping his balanced there. We're going to give him a little bit more neck than I've given the other guys and we'll give him some shorts so that he's a good athlete role model. There we are. That's just a really interesting example, you could twist this any number of directions, any types of way. Sometimes I'll twist one like that for a guy on a skateboard or a musician on a stage or something. You can just keep going and going with this type of thing. You've got a female figure here with a bun, I'm going to put a pony tail on the end of that bun, we'll give her some sleeves, an arm. Notice how these hands, these wrists are right at the waist level so that the hands are actually a little below waist level. She's walking her little yappy dog or whatever that is just to add something a little different to that part of the drawing. We'll shade the legs, we'll put our shadows on there, maybe the way that this top is turned, there's a little bit of just a wrinkle in it right there and boy, that will work for me, I hope that it works for you. Put a little shadow under the dog and we are good to go. Once again, these are techniques that I would use in watching people move across a space or a sports field or whatever it is and just with basic building blocks of anatomy, put together figures that are believable in that context, not so much detail and cuteness that they call attention to themselves, but enough detail that as I say they're credible as figures in a drawing. Next, we will look at overall human proportions to make sure that these people look realistic. Thanks. 6. Sketch Figure Proportions : Now, I mentioned proportions and how those can be problematic sometimes. There's a relatively easy way to think about this, that has a measuring device for a very long time, since at least Renaissance times, and informally for as long as people have been drawing, I suppose. Let's just start with our oval here, draw a trunk, draw our legs coming down, say the waste is about there. When we are doing drawings like this, we can generally think of people as being what we say, eight heads tall. That's the head, so, that's one head, that's x. If I go down 1,2,3 down to the waist, we'll call that 3x. In order for the legs to be long enough, typically they have to be 1,2,3,4 coming all the way down to the ground here, and so, we'll call that 4x. Add those up and it's eight heads tall. You can see that those proportions are looking pretty good. We'll go ahead and finish this guy out. Carrying something. I don't know what necessarily, and the shadow down there, good, looking good [inaudible]. What I get back from students lots of times is, people with really short legs or triangular bodies with little crab like appendages coming out in these really big heads. It's amazing how many times really big heads used to come back from my graduate students. People don't look like that. Aliens look like that and that's just fine if that's your intent, but it's almost always better if you're going to air, air on the side of making the head too small rather than too big. But generally speaking, if the shoulders are like this, we want that head to be about a third of that width of the shoulders. This is looking pretty good. If we keep those general proportions in mind, we shouldn't have any problems. This is just a good formula to remember, 1x , 3x from the waist to the ground, 4x, and that'll keep you out of trouble with proportions. 7. Using Eyeline and Sense of Depth: Let's talk about establishing a sense of depth and a drawing. Just using people. That's a trick I stumbled onto years and years and years ago when I was sitting at a resort, drawing people around a pool and I started with the people drawing in the backgrounds next and it was amazing how easy that made the drawing and I was working with this principle, called eye level line. If you've had any training and perspective, you've probably heard of horizon line and vanishing point. Eye level line can be interchanged with horizon line. I like eye level line better because a lot of times in urban situations you can't see a horizon. Also, the way that you draw relative to an eye level line really matters, whether you're standing, in which case your eye levels at about five feet or if you're sitting down, in which case your eye level is more down at three feet or so, makes a tremendous difference. So let's use the term "eye level" and let's put our oval for a head right on that eye level, and since we're so good at drawing people now, let's pull it truck down. Put some long legs on this guy. There's our arms. There's all the things that he needs to be to be a regular guy. We'll make him walking away from us just by virtue of drawing the back of his head there. So, there's a person walking away from us and, everything looks fine, normal. Let's draw another one, but half the size of this one, and drawing right next to him there. Now, as long as these two heads are on the same eye level line, we can look at it and it looks like they're standing in the same plaza, only this person is a lot closer to us than this person is. That's the sense of depth I'm talking about. This guy is here. This one is, there further away, you know what else? Drawing even smaller. As long as their heads around that eye level line, they're all basically the same height. If they were standing next to each other, they just look smaller because they're further away. You can take this just all kinds of fun places. Large people, small people, in this can fill in the gaps. We're going to put some really small as back there. A group walking over here. In that fun. I'm going to go in between every now and then and dark and some just for, some variety and here's a neat trick to be aware of. I can come in and draw a larger head over here, maybe a couple of ears. Bigger ear, collar, trunk. He looks, much closer than these guys do. We don't even have to finish out the rest of the body on this guy. I mean, we can draw a waist and we can carry legs down, but it's not really necessary. We just go right ahead filling in more people and boy before you know it, you've got a little Italian pierce or something that is just absolutely follow people. That's how we use people in a drawing to establish a sense of depth. Really great trick that we're going to use in the next drawing and your project. So I think you'll find it really enjoyable. When you've got a few minutes, draw yourself on eye level line, draw some of the people that we've been dealing with at different sizes and see if you can't recreate that effect of drawing an entire crowd very, very quickly using that eye level line tool. I've mentioned eye level line being different if we were standing versus if we were sitting. If we're sitting our eye level line is about at the waist of the people that we are watching and so the people were looking at, look more like this rather than their heads being on that eye level line. Their waists are on the eye level line, similarly, we draw these people very, very small. We draw some in between. Keep going. Yeah, I drew her wrong, they're close enough. You see what I mean? That's how it looks, if you're sitting here. Let's say you draw a person sitting. Incidentally. If you're sitting here and looking like so, your head is going to be about at their waste. You are living in a world of belt buckles and belly buttons, and draw your people that way and that will always turn out right. So standing eye level, sitting eye level, little different, makes a lot of difference. 8. Line Drawing Demo Part 1: We've just learned how to make believable people in an urban sketch with just using a few simple shapes, a little bit of contrast, and a few details to make them look real, shadows, clothing details and the like. We've learned about proper proportions to make those people look correct. We've learned about how to establish a sense of depth in a sketch by being able to draw some people close, some people further away in a convincing manner. Now, we're going to do a full-scale demonstration that's going to end up looking a lot like this. I've got my 140 pound watercolor paper. I've got mine taped to the table. You might want to do the same thing to keep it from shifting under you while you're rolling. I've got my humble uni-ball micro pen that I'm doing the fine line work with on all these drawings. How am I going to start? Always eye-level line. There we go and notice I'm pulling that with my shoulder rather than trying to move my wrist and making a scratchy little line, pulling one continuous line across there, practice that and see if you can do that and it'll make life a lot easier for you. I'm going to start the way we started all these with my oval right there on the eye-level line. I'm going to throw some shoulders up, drop the trunk, down the opposite direction for the bottom of the trunk here, I'm going to pull down and give them a little bit larger leg there. Pull down a leg, pull down another leg. Looks like he's moving. That's a good thing. We're going to make him wearing some type of a jacket, t-shirt, we've learned how to do that. We're going to pull his hands down and we'll give him a little hair. I'm going to give this guy some glasses. That's about all the detail we need. I'm going to indicate that that had a sitting on top of those shoulders by putting a little bit of shadow right back there. As we've done on some of the others, I'm going to put some shading on that back leg. I'm going to put a little shadow on this clothing here. Little shadow under those and that's looking pretty doggone realistic for what it is we're trying to do here. Let's do as we have done on some of the previous ones and add some more people. I'm going to go ahead and darken this one in just a bit. This guy will just be wearing a t-shirt or sweatshirt or something like that, but we'll getting long pants, little dignity. There's another one over here that's maybe wearing a ball cap, maybe it's a she. Short, so there's a little tourism thing going on there. What else? How about some hair on this guy. Couple more. I'm going to put the legs out a little bit moving in the same direction. This guy's almost moving sideways. This one even more so, he's actually looking at this direction and I can tell by the way I've couched the body back behind the head, head sitting up a little in front. I'm going to drop a leg down, drop another leg down, and that guy really looks like he's tracking on across there. I'm going to have this guy talking on a cell phone. This legs going forward, so if you watch how he walk, if this leg's forward, this arm will be backward. This one will be out here. We're starting to get there. Usually I'll finish off a scene like this, at least out of the edges, by just having some really roughten people and not giving them much detail at all. The southern direction, that's another thing I'm going to put in and put a female figure in here. There's some darken hair, we may come back and darken that a little bit more. Another way. We're going to give her some short summer time. Sleeveless. We'll go ahead and give her the shoulder bag that she had in the last demo. What else? How about darkening in some of these legs just to emphasize that sense of movement. The fact that we have legs moving, I think is a good thing. Every now and then we can alternate these lights and darks throughout the drawing to give it more visual interest. We've got couple of foreground figures here. We've got some middle ground. I'm going to add some more background figures. I'm not going to get much detail, really doesn't matter if they're male or female, at this point it is hard to tell at that distance. We'll have another guy walking sideways here. It's fun. Carrying something, little bit larger so he's closer. This is just like playing a game. This is so much fun. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. At some point you're probably saying, Jim, you're going so fast on these things. That's one of the keys to making it look and feel realistic, I think, is to move quickly through it. You get these wonky lines, you don't want perfect geometries on these things because humans aren't perfectly geometric. You want to be able to indicate some variations in these body sizes and types. That's one way to do it, is to go fast. So much fun. See how we've got a little rhythm going here with the lights and darks, I'm going to keep that going. I'm going to maybe darken this guy here so that we've got a little bit of variation. Darken his legs. That's pretty good. I don't know really that we need much more than that. He says, as he adds, yet another person. 9. Line Drawing Demo Part 2: We've got a nice crowd going here. I said that we would give it a little bit of context, and we're going to do that as per the example that you saw on the opening card and that I just showed you a minute ago. I'm going to make a pedestal here with a piece of sculpture on it. A very simple column to building behind it a lamppost. We'll say that that's going to work. The context. How do we draw a statue of a human being? It's another person. I'm going to say that my pedestal is going to stop about here, and so I'm going to come up, there's a head, there's a trunk. We're going to make these legs then somewhat so that this person looks adventurous. Give me a stick. All important people carry sticks. Maybe one of these Napoleon type hats, one of these 17th century explorer type hats. I'm going to go ahead and just darken that entire thing. That maybe it's old brass that's weathered over the years, something like that. Seen worse. He's on a little brass pedestal, and then we're going to come down and pull a pedestal down to the ground down here. I have drawn sculptures like this. Many times they are not a mystery to me. I can come in and just add a few details like this, and I know that it'll be somewhat correct. You notice I've come down and faked in a little bit of perspective here. I didn't look at it, I didn't measure it. Not even sure that I previously considered a vanishing point just out of habit. I put it like so and I'm going to pull these down. Maybe there's some recess in this pedestal. Maybe it's a brass plaque or something like that. They often have some little details on and just make that more interesting. There you go. That's fun. One more down here. We're going to let that go. Let's look at the possibility of a building back here. This was real easy. We need to make the building really easy as well. Let's pull something back, like this. You're right through that guy. I don't care. I'm going to come in and add another line here, just draw along with me. Then I'm going to indicate some columns. I'll put a little hat on this building, just another rectangle, another little rectangle inside and it's probably got some writing on it, but that's a background building, so we're not going to go to that level of detail necessarily. Maybe it's got one of these Coat of Arms type things on it. That's just a circle with a couple of swoops on either side. Maybe is got little figures. Here's a head, there's a Trump. No legs. Don't care. We're just going to let that go for right now. Let's add a street light right here. I'm going to come in and put a little dark pole here and I'm going to draw a rectangle on it like that. This is another item that's going to help give us a sense of scale. We're going to make this tall enough to where it looks like it's actually part of the scene. I'm going to draw a little oval at either end to show that we're looking up at it. A hat. Symbolically indicate a light standard in there. Going to draw another one down just a little bit. Another one just on the other side. Draw our little ovals. A hat. Look at you. You're drawing urban street lights. Proud of you. There's a crossbar to hold those two up. Very important. Since this looks like it's an older plaza, we'll make some fancy flourishes. Yeah. Like so to hold this thing up. Just to make it a little more sturdy. Looks funny that that's ending like it is right there. I'm going to drop down and add a little more building back here. Almost like as another wing. Same type of thing. Just a rectangle and some columns. Same on this side. It'll be symmetrical. Let's do one more thing. You know. I said I'm indicating probably a vanishing point down in here, some place the way that I pulled that line down like this. Let's just say that our vanishing point is right there. I'm going to come from that vanishing point in the one-point perspective. If we've got lines going across this plaza, they're all going to come back to that vanishing point and this is a cool little shameless trick that you can do to immediately add some context to something like this. I'm going to pull a line down and then I'm going to continue to pull all of them, go back to that vanishing point and if you were up in the sky looking down, they would look parallel. But since we're down on the ground looking at it in eye level perspective, they form a radial like this. It keeps coming out this way and it keeps coming up this way. These are going back to that vanishing point as well. Yes, I did just draw through those people. Remember the drawings we were looking at in the books earlier and there was all that restatement and I said this is cool really. That's so it doesn't bother me to do something like that. Since I had a little side on that, I'm going to put a little side on that. We can come in and put some horizontal lines end to actually make this look like paving stones, if you will, maybe old cut-stone and a European plaza or something like that and with very, very little effort, just a couple of tricks. You have done something here that really looks like a real place. Final step for this black and white version is little garbage leaves or something in the foreground. It's another way to trick the eye into thinking this is closer, and then we don't see things like that much further back or if we do, they're just little specks. Let's indicate that maybe there's some trees off in the distance. Watch how I did that curved line, curved line, curved line. Voila, you're an artist. Lastly, it's missing something. I'm going to put another little street light over here. If you follow my drawings much at all, you'll know that sometimes I like to throw some pigeons into a situation like this. Some with wings up, some with wings down. They don't look anatomically like pigeons, but what else is going to be up there flying by in a situation like this? That's where we are. Let's call this done. We will come back in the next segment and add some watercolor. Thanks. 10. Adding Color Part 1: Welcome back. We're going to have some fun now. We've got a really nice ink drawing here. We've used waterproof ink so that we can come back with some watercolor. I'm using the palette that I use all the time. You're using something different, probably. But it's got my 16 colors in it. But this time today, I'm only going to use Naples yellow. I've put some in this pan and in this pan, and then I've mixed the Naples yellow with some Mayan orange. Well, this one's a Daniel Smith color. This is a Winsor & Newton, just to be fair to everybody. This is cobalt, teal blue, that is a Daniel Smith color, kind of a turquoise that's really nice. I mixed up some purple here for shadows. I used Prussian blue and Alizarin crimson, both Winsor & Newton for that. Now before I started, I got a little spritz bottle and I freshened up the paint just a little bit. Now I'm going to slide this thing over. Let's see, I am using a number 10 brush to start things off with. Let's see how it works. I'm going to go into the teal first and that's nice. I'm liking it a lot so far. See I just went right over my shadow there. I think I'm going to carry it out a little bit further. That little piece of white there doesn't bother me. I'm just going to leave it there. Sometimes I will want to wet just with some clear water, the sky area first. But not this time. I want this to be a boulder, more graphic look to this sketch. I'm going to bring it down around the building. Now, I made a decision before we got rolling on this thing to leave some white space. This is where I'm going to leave it, on this white building right here. It may or may not be completely white in real life, but I need something like that in the drawing, so that's where I'm going to make that play. Just leave that white, work everything else around it. I'm going to go out on a limb and do a couple of those bladders here and rinse out my brush. Got a little too splattery there. Let's come back. What I usually do is start with some of this Naples yellow over pretty much everything that's hard like this beautiful sculpture mount, pedestal, if you will. The floor as well. I'm just going to carry it right down under that. Now, you can see it on top of that black ink. Some people don't like these yellows because they're considered opaque colors. Myself, I haven't found anything that works as well for coming in and laying down the base color, especially for stone masonry buildings. I haven't found anything anywhere close to this Naples yellow. Some people like titanium white for the same reason, but I like the Naples. That's a little thicker than I might want it right in there. I'm just going to tap it with my rag and I'm going to make it a little more interesting while it's still wet coming in here with some of this Mayan red mixed with the Naples yellow. Drop it in on this back area back here to pull the I. That way creates some interest. That's a little pure Mayan red just, let's say out of the tube, out of the pallet for sure. We're going to drop some down. That's a little strong. Drop some down like this. Let's pull the stripes across this way. This is nice, I'm liking it. Normally I would let something like this dry, but for the purposes of this demonstration, we don't want to take too much time. I want this to be a nice, easy lesson for you to get through from time investment standpoint. I'm going to come in now with a number 8 brush and start to work some of these items of clothing. I'm going into the Mayan orange now, which is really red. Leave it relatively pure right out of the pallet and come in and put a little on this woman to really pop out this foreground. Now, people write me, they actually do and they say, I love your color work. There's something about the way that you do this that just makes me happy. Of course, that makes me happy and I don't always write them back and tell them the secrets. But one of the secrets is that, with this yellow down, no matter what else I put on top of it, the whole page will seem to glow. That's a really nice thing to have. playing in your favor, is because watercolor is a semi-transparent medium. Whatever you put down is there and whatever you put on top of it, you're going to be able to see little hints of that color coming through. That's a really nice thing. Moving along, we've got some red, let's put a little Naples and maybe a little brighter yellow. Maybe a little more like cadmium on this guy. Left on its own like that it's a little boring. I'm going to come in with some of that Mayan orange and just touch it right in here and let those things bleed together. Maybe on the shoulder right here. Not too much, but it's a nice drawing red that creates a nice orange effect here. Nice. 11. Adding Color Part 2: Now, you may have noticed that I jumped over here and put some red on this person, and in a scene that we've imagined like this, that's typically how I'll come in and add color to the people. Let's get some relatively bright colors and come here on about every fourth person, put a color, then I'll come back with something like a yellow on about every fourth person, put yellow on the ones that aren't colored and come back with a green or come back with some other things. That's perfectly valid way to do that. I've been doing it like that for a long long time, very nice yellow. Let's put some more on some other folks. Let's put one on this guy. Maybe over here, sure, and maybe over here. Why not? What else could we use? One of the things that I will do often is come in assuming that some of these folks are wearing jeans. I come in with a little just pure Prussian blue and drop that on some of the legs, not all of them. Maybe even on that figure there. These legs in motion look really good. I think when you darken them and really highlight that, they're moving by, it's nice. How about, I didn't mention green, but we're going to drop a little green. Let's see, I've got a spring green here. Then I'm going to mix with a little Sap green, and drop it on this guy here, and maybe on this one, and maybe on this one. I'm going to leave that when white for right now and see how that goes. We may come back with a little trick to give that a little more oomph. Now, I'm going to get a little Naples yellow, and I'm going to mix it with some more of this Mayan Orange to get more of an orange's color to use for skin tones. This orange, I think is almost very universal color to use for these types of things. You can mix it with other colors for various skin tones, I'll come back on top of it. I'm going to leave his glasses white. I'm just going to work around those. But these things always look unfinished if you don't have some kind of a skin tone on them, so I'm going to recommend that you do that. Let's see. I accidentally put no pants on that person, but I won't say anything if you don't. What else? Let's put a little more Prussian blue. That's a nice repeated element in here as well throughout. No one has ever said to me, why are all those people wearing blue jeans? It's just a dark color. Maybe this neutral tent is another thing that you can use in that situation to create some dark tones without repeating yourself too often. This is coming together nicely. She's got a shoulder bag. She's also got some pavement in that white spot right there. But she's got a shoulder bag. Why don't we do something a little different with that, maybe a brownish tone, that's a little thick. We'll back it off and they're good. What else do we need here? We've got some nice neutrals, we've got a good sky gone, we've got some nice bright tons for the color. This building back here is looking flat. I'm going to come in and add some just implied shadows with this mix of Prussian blue, it's a little dark. Prussian blue and Alizarin crimson is going to pull it across the underside in-between these columns. I cheated a little bit, I came out and I put a pencil mark, where the columns were and where they won't so that I would get this right. I'm going to make the lines a little bit thicker as we come down this way, just to give it a little more sense of the three-dimensions there. Same thing here, same thing they're, not bad. This just looks weak. I'm going to darken this up a little bit. All that's looking good. I like to just add a little sparkle by putting some yellow on those light bulbs. That's not necessarily something that you see on the street, but it is one of my elements that I'll do over and over again. You can recognize that in a lot of my drawings, now that you know about it. Let's see. We're going to dark in her hair a little bit with the neutral tint. We'll leave his salt and pepper. That person's walking away from us. I think we're in good shape here, folks. I wish the Mayan Orange had been a little more pronounced in here. I'm just going to add a little bit. It's nice, I like that better. I'm going to take some of that green that I mixed up and just put it over here on the side to to frame the building over there. This sign as well, very nice. I think we are pretty much done. If you want me to do anything else, maybe you could add some oranges bladders in the foreground and in the sky. Just to loosen things up a little bit, give it a little bit more that fresh feel, or maybe not, completely up to you. But I think that, that one will pass muster. Whole process really didn't take very long at all. That's the beauty of doing an ink line sketch then coming out and just putting some watercolor wash on it, almost in a minimalist way. Always decide in advance, where are you going to leave your whitespace. Here, I've got it in a few of the clothes and I've got it in this big piece back here so that we're jumping from strong color to white, down to strong colors, again down here. All that's working relatively well. Very good. Let's clean up and then we'll come back and wrap this thing up. 12. Your Class Project: I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. I can't think of anything that I enjoy more, than coming into a city setting up on a lively scene that's full of people milling around, starting with that island, drafting some figures and there very, very quickly and making the thing come alive in that way. You know the tricks now. The tricks or the foundation basically, but there are a small part. Next is practice. I would suggest a couple of things. One, is to practice at home a bit and work on those building blocks that we looked at, the head, the trunk, the appendages, how to use use the eye line, that sort of thing and then go out in the field. Find a place where you're comfortable. Watch the people going by and then adapt those building blocks to what you see. Maybe this person going by is very tall and thin, maybe this one is larger, maybe this one in a cowboy hat, maybe this woman's got a bun on top, sunglasses, eyeglasses, whatever. Find ways to individualize those building blocks that I showed you into the types of things that'll help you remember that place. I've got sketches from all over the world that I look back at it now. I'll see this woman in cowboy boots and a big 10-gallon hat walking the streets in Singapore and I'll never forget the moment when I saw that. So enjoy this. That's the whole point. Your project for this class is to produce something very much like we just did in that last exercise. Where you produce an incline, black and white drawing. Eye line first, head, trunk, feet. Put a bunch of people in there at different sizes so that it looks like they're at different depths. Come back with some darks and with some color and really add some life to that thing. This is not something that's going to hang in the loop. Don't sweat it, it's not a precious thing. This is for fun. Enjoy it and embrace the mistakes. This is my first skill share video. You'll see some things in this like, legs showing up in the frames and splatters that went too far, things like that. I'm embracing the mistakes and I hope that you will with your drawings as well. Be sure to post that project. At the end of this, I am told that you need to be on a desktop computer rather than a handheld device to actually post the project, so that would be good thing to do. Finally, thank you. My goodness, this is just such a tremendous joy for me to be able to do this in this forum with you folks. I have taught three our workshops all over the world, 10-day workshops. I've done video classes. But this is really special because this is really taken at a bite at a time. It's very accessible. I just hope that you guys have enjoyed it as much as I have and I'd love to see you back. This is the first in a series of urban sketching essentials. The next one will be a five-step process for putting together a larger scene with architecture and other types of things happening in that. I guarantee that it'll be a lot of fun. If you'd like to see more examples of this type of thing. I'm doing it all the time and posting it on Instagram. It's JR sketchbook. I would love to have you come along and follow and tell me what your thinking, and if you have comments and tell me where you are so that I can follow you and see what you're up to. Thanks again, folks from Siesta Key, Florida, I'd say keep dreaming and keep drawing. Bye bye.