Persevering with People (drawing) 

It’s been a while since I blogged on here.  No excuses so I’ve decided to get back to it with a post about Persevering with People drawing.  In fact capturing people (in my drawings) is something that is often on my mind (perhaps more so than any other element of drawing).  This is because capturing busy places and people is a focus of some of my commissioned reportage work, including weddings and other events.    My view is that like most aspects of drawing, constant practice is required and maybe this is even more so with people!  When I don’t draw people for a while I definitely notice and find it more difficult.  The way I capture people, the materials, the type of drawing, the level of detail etc, is also a source of internal debate!

My current approach to people sketching 

My people drawing technique has been either watercolour-first ( mainly crowds in which case the colour is very non-specific) or contour/gesture line drawings ( to which colour may or may not be added).  Sometimes I will use colour first to capture individual people ( so the colour is of the key shapes to which minimal linework is added ( not as an outline but to add detail not indicated by the colour).  

When capturing events in whatever setting , I now tend to focus on capturing both the big picture and then, more zoomed in captures of people at work/play/rest.  These later portrayals tend to focus on people and their actions with just enough context to tell the story.  These 2 different types of image often go hand in hand but it depends upon the circumstance.  Here are some recent examples: 

Local Markets

People drawing at smithfield market



Ashton Market people sketching Lizsscribbles

Manchester Histories Festival 2018

People Drawing_Manchester Histories Festival sketches 2018 _LizAckerley

A London Wedding

LondonWedding_People Drawing_LizAckerley


The approach outlined above also formed the basis of my summer Workshop, Sketching People In Busy Places.  This was one of the USKManchester 10 x 10 summer workshops.  My demo piece sought to use colour first to capture the market scene on Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester.  Watch out for more information on the workshops I’ve been leading and my planned series for next year.


People Drawing Practice  

My ongoing practice takes a variety of forms!- I go to Life drawing (but not as often as I probably should!) and this tends to be one single pose rather than several shorter gestural poses.  Therefore it tends to be about proportion and tonal value rather than capturing gesture and movement.


I also take a small book around with me to help me capture people on the go, eg. in the tram; at a bus stop etc.  These are mostly pen and ink drawings or pencil drawings.


In addition, I frequently visit places or events with lots of people so that I can practice.  Sometimes, these places are quite extraordinary, like the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships last weekend……

BlackpuddingThrowingChampionships_People Drawing_LizAckerleyillustration

Persevering with People drawing-Future plans

I have several key areas of development  as follows:

-life drawing using watercolour to develop my tonal and more detailed figurative work. ( I am aiming for 2-4 sessions a month).  I,m looking to develop rich lose works that convey tonal values whilst being somewhat looser and more intuitive than my current work.

-A more sketchy, energetic people sketching approach perhaps using coloured pencil for colour .  This will sit alongside my colour first work and should enable a more rounded capture of the occasion.

-More practice and focus on people moving in various situations and people at work or play. I’m interested in capturing the energy and the shapes to produce more dynamic drawings.

Watch this space to see how I get along with these new challenges!

4 thoughts on “Persevering with People (drawing) 

  1. Your sketches are intriguing, I love the positioning of the colour and your style. Your collage work is amazing too.
    It was lovely to meet you yesterday at Woodend Mill, Mossley and I am looking forward to finding out about your work shops.

    1. Hi Samantha,
      Lovely to meet you too and I am so sorry for the delay in response. I think this one got lost in the ether. If you are signed up to my newsletter then I will definitely be using that as a way of letting people know about the workshops and other news. All the best and thanks so much for taking the time to post on here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.