How to Draw > How to Draw People

In this little book, I would like to pass on to you some of those very useful scraps of knowledge which are essential to the making of a good drawing. A student sometimes goes on for years drawing photographically, copying, faithfully perhaps, but only superficially, and producing drawings which might have been done by anyone of a dozen such people.

No character, no life. In fact, the artist must look beyond the surface. Once you are able to do this, your ability to copy accurately and shade carefully may be applied to a more worthy and enjoyable purpose.

If you always want to be drawing, that means you have a desire to express yourself in that medium, and to do this you must be something of an analyst, constantly searching for character; why is that nose that particular nose? What makes those eyes look so alive? The slope of the shoulders, the thrust of the jaw.

All these characteristics go to make up the individual. It is your job to depict them. The best thing to do is to start by drawing portraits of members of your family and friends. Fortunately most people like being sketched.

Even in trains and cafes few people object, but if you cannot bring yourself to sketch in trains, etc., you can make mental notes, and train your mind to observe such things as color effects or dramatic lighting effects. The first time I was thrilled by the effect of dramatic lighting was when I was about nine or ten, as far as I can remember.

I had been to visit family in Westchester with my Father and we were returning by an evening train. When we alighted on our arrival at Penn Station it was quite dark. We made our way along the crowded platform towards the ticket collector, when, alas, I happened to look into the cabin of the engine.

The driver and the fireman were there unwrapping some sandwiches. The glow from the furnace shed a red light on their shining faces, hands and overalls like splashy orange chalk strokes on black paper.

Massive black shadows lurked behind. I think I must have been very thrilled. My Father was completely forgotten, there I stood, no doubt open mouthed, for several minutes completely absorbed before the rude awakening.

My angry, and no doubt anxious Father having missed me and probably spent those minutes imagining untold horrors, at last found me and swept me towards the barrier and home.

It was quite a fortnight before my Father allowed himself to be persuaded into being a partner to my first experiment in lighting. During those two weeks I had used all the guile I possessed.

I did every chore in the house and behaved in a generally suspicious manner until at last (I suppose the strain was too great), he asked me what I was after. My idea, I told him, was that he should pose for me.

I explained about the engine driver and fireman, and that I thought I could get a similar effect with the aid of my cycle lamp. He seemed impressed, and for the moment quite enthusiastic.

It was a dismal failure, however, one reason being that we had gas-light which was an overhead fixture and couldn't be moved around. Of course, when I shone my bicycle lamp onto his face from the floor it simply lightened the shadows cast from the overhead light. I then put out the gas-light. The effect was wonderful, but Father couldn't see to read and I couldn't see to draw.

Next day I had an inspiration. Most rooms have a dark corner, which is, more often than not, near the window and I soon found that I could sit my model in the shadow and cast my bicycle lamp beam up from underneath, myself sitting by the window.

I must say my father behaved very well about it and was so pleased with the result that he bought me some crayons and black paper.

There are several important aspects in portraiture, such as quality of line, pattern, composition, treatment, etc., and if you learn something of these things, it will help you to derive a fuller pleasure from your work. For the purpose of this book I have drawn my own family and some of my friends.

Continue to
Materials Needed to Draw People

Introduction to Drawing People
Materials Needed to Draw People
The Essence of Drawing People
Posing the Sitter for a Portrait
Composition for a Portrait
How to Draw Hands
How to Show Age and Character
Drawing Clothes
How to Convey Emotions
Using Planes to Render People
Using Humor to Show Character
Examples of Portraits: Mother
Examples of Portraits: Brother
Examples of Portraits: Little Brother
Examples of Portraits: Uncle
Drawing Groups of People
Line Drawings of People
Watercolors of People

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