One Week 100 People is an art challenge where, over the span of a 5 day work week (or 7 as a normal week), sketchers draw 100 people – roughly 20 per day. I first learned about this challenge from a local sketcher friend, please have a look at his work and blog! 🙂 I have also participated in 2017 and all of the drawings are available in this blog post. Last year, I chose not to do the art challenge because the dates were set still in the dead of winter and there was no way I was going to see 100 people unless I lurked in food courts all day. This year, I see it’s in April so I was excited, yet this winter proved to be tiresome and long and even by April 8th it was still raining ice.
My Approach to Sketching 100 People
The previous time, I used a lot of video resources for drawing poses and this year I really wanted to be outdoors, sketching people in movement going about their business. Personally, I don’t do art challenges because I am having issues with productivity — it’s usually to push a skill. Sketching people outdoors in movement is not much different from sketching birds: they’re there, then they’re gone in an instant. Unlike figure drawing, the person is not frozen in time for the artist so the artist has to adapt to the model.
At one point many years ago, I read a book on drawing nature. I had a nature sketching journal that I filled with images of ducks, seagulls, farm fields, and weather. It’s a different process of drawing that emphasizes observing the subjects, describing them to yourself, memorizing as much detail as possible before setting pen to paper. I used this same technique here.
As the week went on, I realized when this technique works, when it doesn’t, and when gesture sketching is more effective. Basically, active observation works best for memorizing an expression, clothing detail, colour, and other tangible details. Gesture sketching captures movement and form.
Another challenge I faced last time was trying to get all 100 figures in… If you do detailed drawings, portraits, ect. — it is nearly impossible. Let’s say I spent an hour on 1 figure. That’s 20 hours everyday for 5 days? No one has time for that. I limited myself to 1-2 hours of sketching per day. I ended up finishing the challenge in 6 days instead (some figures did end up eating me up for an hour). The last time, I passed a week.
The Benefits of Sketching People Fast
There are pros and cons to drawing this fast.
One issue with drawing this fast is you don’t have the time to really meditate on a subject and extract all that’s possible. There were some really interesting people I would’ve loved to spend more time drawing. Eventually, it is exhausting to keep turning to a new subject.
The benefit is it really pushes you to make better drawings, faster and there’s no time to overthink. This actually helps with learning human anatomy because you are more focused on observing rather than analyzing, and all that goes somewhere in the depths. It’s kind of like playing a sport. You don’t learn to dribble a basketball by thinking about dribbling, you do it.
The other benefit I gained from this exercise is a mental encyclopedia of what people really wear, when, how in spring in this time period. This is very useful for any kind of concept art or illustration. It’s beyond frustrating trying to draw pedestrians in a city scene when you have no sense of what they look like without raiding a search engine. This is the real reason why keeping a sketchbook is important.
On the rainy days when going outside was not ideal, I created some custom brushes in Photoshop and experimented with color palettes. Digital is great for this. I tend to get stuck using similar colors and combinations partly because of my paint; in my opinion, watercolor somewhat locks you into a palette. With digital, I can use unnatural colors and colors I can’t mix with my paints. I used Croquis Café models to do some figure drawing studies, particularly focusing on different skin tones because that’s something I lack experience with. I think I learned a few things about drawing darker skin that I will apply to paintings in the future. I made some really fun sketches!
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