Project: The moving figure

Exercise: Sitting and waiting  

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People talking around a table make lots of gestures with their hands, so it is a good time to draw them.


Coloured pencils are good for drawing people as an alternative to graphite pencils.  They have a range of different qualities of line, depending on how sharp they are and how much pressure you put on the pencil.


People in crowds.  The drawing below has people in the foreground and background, moving down a busy street.img969 Man eating crisps.  I used pencils at the beginning of this exercise, before exploring a wider range of media.  You have to be really quick drawing people eating, but the movements they make are repetitive, so you can return to a drawing again and again.

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This sitting person caught my attention because she looked happy.  The children below are holding hands.  This makes them move out of their central axis.


Below are some ink drawing studies.  I made these studies from the television, mostly studied faces and expressions on this page.  Television often gets right up to people’s faces.

notebook (2)The woman below was in a magazine, this was good for studying the angles of the hands.
notebook 3I think working in colour, like in the image below, it is easier on your eyes than working in black because it is less contrasting.


The man above was outside a restaurant, his hand is on his head to adjust his sunglasses.  The women below are whispering together.


Below is a woman carrying a big handbag.  She has an angular stance.

img009 img011 Here I was working with a graphite stick which I held differently than a pen or an ordinary pencil, using the broad side to get a different effect.img010 img012


People relaxing on a bench.  It is good to draw people who are sitting on benches.  This caught my attention because the women looked comfortable and thoughtful.


Below and above are drawings with people using their hands.  When people use their hands I think it’s a fascinating thing to draw.


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Above and below are people waiting.  Waiting people are good for drawing because they have varying postures and they usually stand still for a while.



img019 People in a shop, above.  People in a cafe, below.

I used coloured fine-liner for the woman on the left, and pencil crayons for the woman on the right.  I enjoyed making this drawing because I just kept going with it.  I was drawing quickly, and I found that I had drawn her head disproportionately from her arm and shoulder, so I worked on top of my original drawing and fixed the problem.  I like that you can see the smaller figure within the corrected, larger figure.

In the fine-liner drawing I explored tone with hatching, cross-hatching and stippling.  This was good practice.
img027My  tutor has recommended I try to use chunkier media such as oil pastels . So I have been trying them out for this exercise – it is a challenge to break the habit of using pencils for exercises and studies.  It is exciting to use pastels for quick drawings like this, because they create more dramatic and interesting images than a grey pencil might.img030  I have also explored brush and ink at my tutor’s recommendation – ink and brush, though unpredictable, creates striking pictures.  Compared to pencils you can make lines with personality – you cannot help making lines with personality.img033  I have been practising with felt tips and I have discovered that you can make a brilliant selection of marks with them,  because each one is different.  The broad dried felt tip creates a grainy, frayed line while a finer felt tip can make a narrow inky mark.    Some of them are old and blobby, or damaged giving an unusual line forms, or fading and returning and fading again in the process of a drawing.

My attention was caught by the blue woman below because she looks so thoughtful.  She was in a magazine.  The other woman, a ballerina fascinated me because I find ballerinas fascinating generally, because of the unusual poses and outfits that they wear.



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People who are reading (above) I find really interesting to draw.  It is a good narrative image which suggests ideas and possibilities.

Below I used oil pastels.  I really like working quickly with pastels.


My attention was caught by these men (below) because they look so happy, and they just make you think about narrative ideas and there are so many possibilities for something with narrative potential.

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Above and below, I was interested in drawing these people because they are reading, and it is such a serene thing to draw.  It sparks your imagination because you want to know what they’re reading, why they’re reading, where are they, who are they etc etc.


Below is an inked background with white oil pastels drawn on top.  I’m pleased with these drawings, and the uneven background adds mystery to the image.


I am pleased with the stance or posture of the two men on the page below.  I used different media – felt tips and pencil crayons – but they are really successful drawings capturing the sense of the people and the atmosphere.



The drawings below are from a magazine.  I thought it was a really good posed photo to draw, so I drew it first in wax crayons, quickly, and then again in felt tips, not so quickly but not slowly either.

I am pleased with the effects of both, but especially I think the felt tip drawing was excellent.  This is because I used three or four different pens, and I used a broad pen for the man and a selection of finer pens for the woman.  It worked out really well, just by chance.






Left side, felt tips broad and fine.

Left side, felt tips broad and fine.

I have been exploring felt tips lately, to see how you can use a selection of them and they have a variety of marks to offer.  For this drawing I used a broad brown felt tip and two fine green felt tips, I think it is really successful.  Felt tips are good for layering in a line drawing.

Right side, felt tips broad and fine.

Right side, felt tips broad and fine.

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The woman above is eating breakfast.

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sitting and waiting2 sitting and waiting3 sitting waitning

Man at the art gallery

Man at the art gallery

People at the art gallery

People at the art gallery

People looking at the art

People looking at the art

People in the art gallery

People in the art gallery


My dad reading a book and a magazine at the same time, while eating his breakfast

My dad reading a book and a magazine at the same time, while eating his breakfast

Exercise: Fleeting moments

I have some good opportunities to draw fleeting moments at my work – I stand behind a counter and I can see all around the shop at people browsing.  Mostly people only stand still for a moment, so I have to draw very quickly.


These drawings are done in biro, so they are not very easy to see, but if you click them they get bigger and easier to see.

Above you can see a person bending down to look at things on the shelves.

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People looking around  the shop at things on shelves and hangers.

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Below is a drawing which was of a woman looking at the bookshelves.


Looking at books on lower shelves (below).img974


The drawings below are made with felt tip markers, at a bus stop waiting for the bus.  I really enjoyed making these drawings.

People waiting for the bus.

People waiting for the bus.

This man was talking to the woman in the drawing above, who had her back to me, so he was facing me, but looking at her.  This gave me the opportunity to draw his face.

Man talking while waiting for the bus

Man talking while waiting for the bus

Even though he was not looking directly at me, I stopped after drawing him three times, to avoid suspicions.

Man talking while waiting for the bus, again.  And a building.

Man talking while waiting for the bus, again. And a building.

Below is a drawing of a man on the bus.  I like the wobbly lines created by the movement of the bus while I was drawing.

Man sitting on the bus.  The bus made the drawing wobbly, which gives an interesting quality of line.

Man sitting on the bus. The bus made the drawing wobbly, which gives an unusual quality of line.

I like drawing a journey like this, because I feel like you really capture little pieces of life.  Below is a combination of red felt pen and graphite pencil.  I used a red pen because that part of the bus really was red.  the rest I drew in pencil, because I thought it might make an intriguing limited palette drawing.

Man sitting in the front of the bus.

Man sitting in the front of the bus.

Waiting for the bus again, in the town centre.

Waiting for the bus again, in the town centre.  (The drawings in red on this page were made mostly after the figures were gone.  From memory.)

Waiting for the bus again, in the town centre.

Waiting for the bus again, in the town centre.

Waiting people have all these different postures and poses.

On the bus again.  Ladies.

On the bus again. The figure in sunglasses was drawn from memory.

Man from the television.

Man from the television.

This man I drew from the television.  I realise now that his left ear is in the wrong place.  Probably because I was drawing so fast.

Little girl in shop looking at toys.

Little girl in shop looking at toys.

People eating in a cafe are good to draw because many of them sit still for a lot of the time.

People in the cafe.

People in the cafe.

Below seemed like a really good scene to draw, because it was two people sitting around a table.  It was a lot to draw quickly though.

Two men in the cafe.

Two men in the cafe.

Click here to see my Research point: People watching page, where I have made a record of my observations. 


Check and Log - Copy (3)

How well did you manage to create the sense of a fleeting moment rather than a pose?  

I made my fleeting moment drawings of moving people, so they had to be drawn quickly.  You can see from the lines and the unfinished drawings that the figures moved away or changed position while I was drawing.

In many of the drawings I kept my pen moving while I looked back at the figure.  This created unusual results, like facial features continuing off the head, and moustaches leading over the lips and across the cheek.

How successful were your attempts to retain an image and draw later?  

I have had some success with remembering an image to draw later – some faces I saw of people standing in the street as a bus (I was on the bus) paused and then drove on.  I am pleased with these drawings.

Were you able to keep to a few descriptive lines to suggest the person’s movement or were you tempted to keep introducing more elements into your work?

I think that moving people are difficult to add a lot of detail too, unless they keep repeating the same movements over and over, they are just gone.

I found that my fleeting drawings have an abruptness to them, which does not appear to welcome further tampering.  The quick lines capture the movement, and the more details you add, the less motion the drawing conveys.


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