Capturing the Crowd (with James Richards)

Capturing the Crowd - Albert Square sm

The second workshop I attended at the 7th Urban Sketching Sympo – er,”USKManchester2016″, let’s just call it (that’s the official hashtag by the way, #uskmanchester2016, if you happen to be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MySpace, well maybe not MySpace, anyway all those so-called media sites (that is the term right?), just use that hashtag and you will find everyone else’s Symposium stuff. It’s pretty damn wicked.) Sorry, just interrupted a sentence to shorten it with a longer sentence. Ok. The second workshop I took in Manchester was called “Capturing the Crowd“, taught by James Richards, assisted by his wife Patti, and held up at Albert Square (no, not that Albert Square, a real and much better one). Jim Richards sm

Jim is an excellent teacher who went through everything step by step, how to construct a scene with a crowd of people in it, tips on detail and colour, tricks for poses and perspective. I’d not met him in person before so it was a real treat to learn from this master, especially as I have been trying more and more to add crowds of people into my location drawings. The only thing we didn’t really have was a crowd – that afternoon was pretty rainy (hello Manchester!) – but that wasn’t a problem. People were always walking past, and if you draw enough of them, then voila – you have a crowd!

There is Jim on the right there, I managed a very quick sketch while he was going over the mechanics, as it were. He was extremely well prepared. Now I won’t go over every aspect of what he taught us, but if you pop over to Jim’s website, he has put together a thorough step-by-step demo.

Here are the first quick sketches I did in the workshop, just rapid sketches of people as they passed by, working on poses and using people to create perspective. The final drawing I did is at the top – I stuck around the finish it after the workshop had ended. The rain didn’t last all afternoon, though I stood beneath an arch. I did bump into former USk London sketcher and animator Nathan Brenville, who was visiting family in the north (he now lives in Madrid). He has a colouring-in book coming out soon which is all about Maggie Thatcher!

Capturing the crowd sketches sm

Key points I took away:

  • Go with the basic eye-level as the point to draw the heads in your crowd – the bodies will shorten as they get further away
  • Only the front ‘row’ of people need to have details – beyond that, simple people shapes – and bring some people right up close in your sketch, to add to the depth
  • Legs overlap a lot so many figures walking towards or away from you will appear to have one long ‘upside-down-triangular’ leg
  • Add a few different colours to peoples’ clothes – even if all the ‘real’ people seem to be wearing shades of grey, a few bolder colours will make all the difference
  • Yeah Manchester really does like to rain
  • I should look at a map and not just use the force*

Cheers Jim! Check out more of his lovely work at www.jamesrichardssketchbook.com/

IMG_7237

*Ahem. After this I was supposed to meet up with other sketchers at the Peveril of the Peak pub, but I totally got lost TWICE. Even after being given directions. I made it eventually…

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4 thoughts on “Capturing the Crowd (with James Richards)

  1. James Richards says:

    Fantastic post, Pete; you covered the workshop beautifully! I remember you telling me you were going to stay behind to complete a sketch–it’s brilliant! Great to finally meet you.

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