I have started doing small, really quick capturing of people moving. Putting a pen to paper en sketching them on the move, not lifting the pen and only trying to capture the movement of the body, the suggestion of a movement, no details. I also choose people a little further away in distance, not close to me, so that I don’t get trapped in doing the details. Just by looking at the first and last image, you can already see the improvement – in the first, I still wanted to capture details and even if I couldn’t see it, I somehow sketched what I thought should be there, which turend it all into failures. In the last, I’ve more or less started succeeding in only going for suggestion, with some still not at all recognizable, but much better than the first images.

These sort of figures are very useful in paintings – adding some figures into a beach scene or a landscape, or a street scene. It gives movement and some personality and life to a painting. Not always, but I’ve seen street  and beach scenes come to life with just a few “idling figures” around.

It also helps a lot with concentration and focus and “connecting” the hand with the image you’re trying to capture. When looking at fast moving legs, it is hard to decide where to put which line and this is a great practice for that. I fist started looking at what the arms and shoulders do in movement and then move onwards to the hips and legs.The people sitting next to me on the sidewalk(having coffee) were very impressed by this kind of capturing and thought the little figures were trés mignon…very cute.

I so admire Gabi and José with their ability to quickly capture these little action figures in ink and they inspire me to keep working at these. I might just get better at it the more I do it. And besides, it is really fun!

They are done in moleskine with ink, and are really small and quick. Measure about 5-6 cm (1,9″-2,3″) for a little figure)…and look…NO WASHES!

21 thoughts on “Sketching moving people

  1. Oh Ronell!!! Even your ‘failures’ are gorgeous!! I really love how you’ve showed us the progression over time — beautiful …. and I can definitely see the ‘challenge’ in doing these .. but oh so helpful for some paintings!! Super exercise — even better — your figures!! BRAVA!

  2. these are really great and lively – and practice will make them even better! moving figures aren’t easy are they? I don’t often do figures – I ought to do more of this too.

  3. thanks for the kind words Ronell! i try to freeze the image of the person in my head as if i was taking a photo and pressing click in that instant. sometimes I just observe, don’t draw, to learn how the body moves, right arm forward means right leg is back, etc… you’ve got many good poses in these pages. i like the fourth person from the left on the bottom one. keep it up!

  4. What a great and rewarding challenge you set yourself, Ronell. I particularly love the figures on motor bikes (scooters) and bikes, and you have some super babies there.

    It could become addictive. Really lovely to look at.

  5. I love these busy little figures – they are cute! And great to see how much better they got as you went along. This is such a good exercise and can’t fail to improve drawing skills – think I must join you on this one (I’ve been trying to sketch tennis players at Wimbledon, but cheated and paused the TV to catch them – they were just way too fast!)

  6. Hi Ronell,
    I found your blog quite a while ago and am following your articles from time time which are really very interesting.
    The funny thing is that exactly this weekend I started to do the very same thing like you – doing quick sketches at a lake with the scenes there and realized how difficult that is sketching people while moving, tending to add too many details as well and making sizes just too big.

    I feel very inspired by your examples to continue to train this and admit it is just great fun!!!

    Thank you and many greetings from Munich,

  7. those are wonderful! I have tried to do exercises like this and should try more often–I find it difficult. I try to just get a basic gesture, but I don’t process things fast enough, I think–you did great! I will be inspired by you to try some again.

  8. These figures are wonderful and such good practice. The funny part is I am doing the same thing with faces-trying to be fast and still capture their looks.

  9. I think they are tres mignon too! I love setting personal challenges. I love the way that a focus on something brings such deeper understanding – often not always directly related to what you are studying! BTW, I have got Art and Fear too, cos I saw it here. It is a great little book, and its insights are not restricted to artists. I am working at the moment with a group of people who are also specialists but in quite a different way. People for whom what they do is their life. And as I read Art and Fear, I can relate it to these people as well.

    Have a lovely week, my friend.

  10. These are fabulous! I was trying to do something like this (on a much smaller scale) today while I was waiting for the commuter train and I know just how hard it is to do. I can vouch for not only do you get better when you do lots of these, but the reverse is true when you don’t (I’m experiencing the latter).

  11. Nice work! It’s not easy, but once you start, you’ll just keep going on. I started drawing people using my kids as models. No time for detailed drawings or paintings, I had to watch them all day and they were constantly moving, so I started drawing them because that was about all I could do while with them. It was very difficult at first, but it became easier with time and I’m so glad I tried it. And I still have that same problem you mention: always have to sketch from some distance, otherwise I get lost in the details!

Leave a Reply to Pequete Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s