Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From Chicago: Tips and Tricks

Urban Sketcher of Chicago recently started a new feature called Tuesday's Tips and Tricks.  The first post was from Wes Douglas and I thought it was great:

Tuesday Tips & Tricks: How to include people in your urban sketches

Today we announce a new feature to the USk Chicago blog--a weekly urban sketching "Tips & Tricks" post.  Each Tuesday a new sketching tip will be shared.  Tips will span a range of topics and will aim to give you a new skill to work on during that week.  Before you know it you will have a new arsenal of sketching ideas, tips and tricks to use on sketching outings and to refer back to, all in one place, on our blog.  Blog posts will also be posted to our Pinterest board "Tips and Tricks," so if you want, you can share these and other pins with your own followers.  If there is something you would like to see as a post, please add your suggestion in the comments below.

Topic: How to include people in your urban sketches
The question often comes up about how to draw people. Drawing people can require years of anatomy study and practice to get the proper proportions. For those of you who do not have that kind of time, here are a few of my favorite tricks for adding people and a human element to your urban sketches. First let us review why you would want to add people in the first place. If you still have questions, pose your question in the comments section below. Thank you.

5 Reasons To Add People To Your Urban Sketch:

1. To give scale (size relationships) to your environment

2. To add a human element to your environment

3. To observe how people live, work or play

4. To capture movement and gesture

5. The "unintentional portrait" happens when a person is so engrossed in whatever they are doing that they will stay in position for a long period of time and present you with the perfect model from which you make your detailed sketch.

5 Types of People Sketches in Urban Sketching:

The Stick Figure Silhouette: Stick figures thickened up to look like clothes. Perfect for subjects that are further away and the people are not the main focus.

The A-Frame People: A variation of the stick figure based on the simple letterform “A”. It is the suggestion of a person without having to be anatomically correct. Perfect for subjects that are further away and the people are not the main focus.

Block People - Basic: The human form made up of blocks and circles. No facial details needed and the pose contributes to the scene.

Block People - Detailed: The human form made up of blocks and circles, but more detail is added such as clothes, hair, and the suggestion of faces.

The Close-up Portrait Study: A more time-intensive study of the subject focusing on anatomy, shading, details, clothing and environment. Careful observation and attention to small details are important here. Shading can come in many forms such as watercolor, hatching, markers or pencil.


  1. I saw this the other day and thought it was interesting too.

  2. Mark, thank you for posting this. I am not very good at following other USk blogs so simple re-posting of useful tips here is really helpful.


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