Practicing figure sketching. #OneWeek100People2017

Did you participate to that event too? 😊 Last week, Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel had the great idea to encourage the sketchers from all over the world to practice their people sketching, trying to make 100 people sketch in one week.


I decided to participate, even if I regretted the many people of India (always eager to pose!) and the warm weather helping to go out and sketch! At last, I reached the 100 sketches! 😀 Even if I wasn’t able to do a lot of sketches from life, I took the chance to experiment a lot with different sketching materials to try to improve my people sketching.

In fact, it was not on purpose but I changed the medium each day, funnily! ☺️
NB : I didn’t sketched all day but rather moved forward a lot on the challenge the days I sketched! 😉


The first day of the challenge, I was for a few hours in Paris, on my way back from India.

The gloomy rainy weather were really discouraging but, thanks to the #OneWeek100People2017 challenge, I forced myself to go out and find a cafe spot where I could sketch people. 😊 Cafes in Paris are just awesome for sketching, as they almost always have small tables in front of the window. That’s one of the best way I know to sketch people without being noticed! 😉

I sketched people with watercolors, changing scale and focussing on the colorful coats and umbrellas (I had to find a bit of color in the grey Paris!). ☺️


Then back home, a bit tired, sensitive to the cold and nostalgic of India, I searched for some photos as an inspiration and I painted this group of people, below, after a photo of mine. This little cutie with a bleu dress and some bunches was so cute!!

When I try to paint a quick portrait wet in wet with watercolor, it’s usually a mess but I like the work on the clothing style and postures these sketches without faces allow. By the way, do you know the painter Louis Toffoli ? He was painting people without faces with a gorgeous style… 😊

Hopefully, I will manage to gradually add a few shadows and details in the faces ! 😉


Then, searching what I could use as a reference for people drawing at home, I thought again of these videos you can find on YouTube with life drawing sessions. As I never had the chance to attend a real life drawing class, it’s a really special opportunity for me!

I used these kind of videos with timed photos named “Daily Life Drawing Sessions” this time but you could also use the “Croquis cafe” videos. Such amazing ressources! 👍😀

These sketches were my first attempt at sketching with a long unpredictable swordliner brush and watercolor. Mine is a synthetic Pro Arte Medium, btw. It was really fun to do! Some sketches ended up monstrous 😬 and others were rather fine in my opinion. 😌 I like their dynamic.


Surprisingly, the day after, when I tried some new life drawing sketches with the swordliner, the result was awful… It wasn’t working anymore!

In this case, don’t get stuck, turn one’s coat, try something else!
I then decided to used my Koh-I-Noor favorite magic pencil and my sketching flow finally went back! 😅 I like how the random color change gives interest to the simple sketches. The colors of the “Tropical” magic pencil are really lovely! 😊



I don’t know what you think but, in my opinion, even the double lines (when the first one was not correct or just an approximation) bring a sens of movement to the sketches… ☺️


Each sketch is made within one minute or less! 😊

I admit that I was really surprised when I realized I was able to sketch people so quickly! I figured out that when I spend more time on the drawing, I tend to overwork and it looses its freshness.


Thanks to these quick sketches, I ended up doing over 100 people sketches in one week!
Quite an achievement for me. 😃


And one week later (so this, below, is not really part of the #OneWeek100People2017 challenge), last Sunday, I went to a sort of indoor flee market and, this time, had a lot of fun drawing with a pen!! 😁
(Sometimes I am wondering what is messing up with my head!! 😯😅)



Realizing I was not interesting in buying the old stuff they were selling there, I started sketching and couldn’t stop anymore!
I then made 100 people in one go!! Yeah! 😝

I went back home with 10 pages of people sketching, can you believe it?! 😁

Of course, the sketches are not pieces of art but sketching the people more and including them more in my watercolors is one of my current goal so I am really happy that I moved forward so much towards it within a few days. 😊


Plus, I tried to implement some things I was thinking about (in my subconscious, probably) for a few months.

-> Using more loops, especially for the face features and less “one way lines”.
-> Experiment with giving depth to the sketches by drawing people at various scales.
-> Use continuity or broken lines in a more conscious way.
-> Trying to evoke gestures and postures in a better way, including hands and paying attention to arm direction.


For sure, I still have a lot of work to do to correct the imprecisions with the people positioning in relation to each others, to be more confident with my lines and avoid too much restating or weak lines, and to get more credible bodies and especially legs… But I feel I am in the right path. ☺️

Actualy, I noticed a huge improvement in my instant memory during the past months. I mean remembering for a few seconds a posture, a hair shape, a hand gesture of a moving subject to be able to sketch it. 😊


At the end, I was over the hundred of people and I had to go but I didn’t want to stop 😅 so I kept going on my last page, going wild with the incredible creatures I could find in this flee market : some stuffed animals, a doll, a wood horse, a teddy bear and a Mickey Mouse, some really weird masks…
Of course, including the people in such a strange environment makes the sketches even funnier and interesting. 😝 I will focus more on that next time, now that I feel a bit more at ease with spontaneous sketches of people.


Thanks Marc and Liz for the challenge!
I especially liked following the posts of Shari Blaukopf, Suhita Shirodkar and Marc Taro Holmes during the week. 😌 It shows that, at every level, we can make progress. 😊
We shared our sketches with the friends I met in Manchester too, it was a great source of motivation as well!


I know this is already a long article with many links, but blogging is about sharing ressources and inspiration, isn’t it?!

So, I would just like to add that, regarding to people sketching, the reportage artists Veronica Lawlor and Julia Sverchuk are a never ending source of inspiration for me. ☺️ Moreover, they (and others) are making a amazing job at telling what is going on in the US lately with their drawing practice.

I am very impressed that some people think about doing that and do it so well!



In conclusion, sketching people in fun, interesting and meaningful. And there are so many techniques and ways to do it that we can always find something that work for us for the day. 😉

Did you participate to the #OneWeek100People2017 challenge? Are you used to sketch people ?
Which is your favorite technique? Do you tend to change from one technique to another, like me?

Happy sketching week to you all! 😃

5 thoughts on “Practicing figure sketching. #OneWeek100People2017

  1. I took part in #OneWeek100People2017challenge and was amazed at how it improved my skills in just a view days, even though I started a day later and restricted myself to drawing people from life, so I didn’t achieve 100 people, more around 70 or so…
    I’m used to drawing people from life (in cafés and public transportation, mostly) but I want to increase my speed, in order to be able to draw people *moving” and achieve more individual (not to say resembling) faces.
    What I found so motivating in this challenge is the idea of quantity: when you draw so much, it doesn’t matter if some of your drawings are not perfect, and sometimes, as you say, quite monstrous 😉 I’m very shy about posting my drawings online, but seeing other people’s attempts gave me courage to share imperfect drawings and I found it very rewarding. I’ll do again.
    Anne-Laure, I really like your reportage about the marché aux puces. I’m a great admirer of Veronica L. and it seems that you’re following in her footsteps 🙂 I especially like how you rendered some postures with only a few lines (the man with the hands behind in his back is excellent).
    The sketches from YouTube are impressive. Your training as urban sketcher makes you able to catch a posture very quickly. Well done 😀
    (and I’m a big fan of rainbow pencils too).

    • Hello Benedict!
      Thanks a lot for such a long and interesting comment!!

      Yes, that’s amazing how to focus on something for a few day can make us improve our skills so much!
      Whoooo, 70 people only for life with one day less, that’s pretty awesome! I was really disappointed when I realized I couldn’t sketch as many figures as I would like from life… I had this impression of cheating!
      But you did it! I saw your work on Instagram and I was so impressed by your postures and portraits!

      You talked about speed and I think that, yes, the timeframe we have when sketching someone from life is really shorter than we think.
      I remember the impression of being able to take my time when sketching a figure after a photo or video within 30 seconds to 1 minute!… I never feel that way when I sketch from life! We probably usually have 5 seconds before the people move or something happen, 10 seconds maybe? It might be sometimes a bit more but with the crazy on location situation, it’s always so tricky! (someone blocking your view, or talking to you, your model looking at you… ).
      We really have to be crazily fast to be able to sketch people from life.

      Yes, for sure, the flow is really enjoyable when we work with speed on quantity! And when a figure is messed up, we just start another one! That’s so relaxing! Relaxing, too, not to draw someone we know, from our friends, family, as in this case, the likeness problem is really an issue!
      That’s just amazing that you at last shared your sketches and get some motivation with it! We have to be humble enough to do so, as our sketches are never perfect, of course, sometimes not even really good!
      But, I am often surprised that people favorites are not the same as mine. Usually, when I hesitate to share a sketch because I think it’s not really good, people end up loving it!!!

      I really don’t think I am in the footsteps of Veronica 😉 but that’s really nice from you to say so! ☺️ (I would like to, of course!!)
      Thanks for your compliments about my work on postures. I hope I will improve them but that’s nice that, even if the drawing is not good, the intention about the posture shows up so the expression of what I wanted to share is there.

      Oh, I am so chatty this morning! But I like to talk about sketching so much!!
      Have a good day, Bénédicte! (btw, I finally answered in English but I coudn’t have done it in French, I guess!! That way, though, people can keep talking with us if they want too.)

  2. I disagree with you that your sketches “are not pieces of art”. They are lovely! I especially like the ones using different colors and your gestural line drawings are excellent. I love to draw people. Like you, I use different techniques, watercolors, colored pencils, pens & mechanical pencils. Sometimes I sketch inside old books but was unable to attach a photo.

  3. Anne-Laure. so much inspiration here….I dont get tired of watching it. Thank you for sharing. I`ll follow you.
    Your friend an “old” room mate Berit

  4. Anne-Laure, Thank you so much for sharing this incredible “100 People” journey! I struggle with figures, and my head always gets in the way of my hand! I have drawn with the Magic Kohi-Nor pencils and they really do add a bit of excitement…(especially for me, since the drawing itself is not yet good!). I would like to know…when you draw, do you start with the head? Shoulders and Body? Have you found a “method of start and stop” that worked for you?

    Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful drawings…and I agree with Karla Kay Hull…these are pieces of art!

    I look forward to more from you!

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