I always insert groups of people in my drawings to give the scenes scale, action, create a story and context. Not all people need to be drawn at the same level of detail - a strategy that is often overlooked in the drawing process. Whenever I begin a project, I make strategic decisions on how much time I should spend drawing detail, what are my client’s expectations and at what stage in the process am I creating a design visualization.
Here are four basic approaches for drawing groups of people that range from minimal detailed sketches to highly illustrative representations. I hope these simple tips can help you in your own drawing process!
Sketch Technique: Low Detail
Sketching people with minimal detail involves creating simple shapes, hardly any commitment to gender or age, and no delineation of faces. The two drawings below have dozens of people drawn into them with a low level of detail. Only a few individuals in the foreground (musicians and the projected images) were illustrated. This technique is very effective in concept development of projects when many quick sketches are being generated.
Sketch Technique: Moderate Detail
The amount of detail has increased with these concept design sketches. Although people still don’t have faces delineated, I’ve inserted a moderate amount of detail into their clothing, body shapes, action and deliberate placement within the scene. Notice how some people are sitting at dining tables, grouped together, and even waving to each other. More time was invested into drawing these scenes as the images were used for more of concept presentation format.
Illustrative Techinque: Moderate Detail
As project designs become more refined, so do the illustrations representing them. The two presentation drawings below each show a much higher level of delineation of the people groups. The upper illustration by J.F. Mahoney clearly defines gender, faces, clothing variety, hand activity and much more of a commitment to detail. My lower drawing of an exhibit is carefully illustrated to show specific actions of each individual in the group. Notice that the larger you draw people in your scenes, the more illustrative detail you much invest into delineating them!
Illustrative Technique: High Detail
Both of the drawings below are from Kirk Fromm, who has illustrated his groups of people with a highly refined level of detail. Each individual has a unique character, action, facial definition and clothing style. The upper drawing used a photographic method for generating people. Kirk took his own digital photographs of people and inserted them into the image, manipulating each with a technique of overdrawing, filtering and digital painting. The lower casino drawing did not incorporate photography and was generated by carefully illustrating each individual from preliminary sketches and a series of drawing refinements. Great work Kirk!
NEW! - The 2010 Blog Collection , a 116-page catalog of my best blog posts from 2010 is now available on Blurb! http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1963744