Part 4, project 5, exercise 2 – groups of figures

I have posted these elsewhere although I had this exercise in mind when I made the sketches. This first group of sketches is from the live web stream provided by NASA/JPL of the teams building the 2020 Mars rover. 

This is conte/charcoal and less a group as individuals within the group. The build takes place in a clean room, hence the suits and masks. The teams move slowly and carefully, as you might expect, which is ideal for me.


I’m quite fond of this central figure, leaning on the arm of a ladder. Less so the one on the right which is too outlined for my liking. Bottom left satisfies me too, even though there’s an outline because that isn’t so defined.


I tried loosening the line with ink dripped into water over a basic charcoal/pencil guide. I don’t find these figures too convincing although the one on the left has some movement, I think.


This was an extension of the water/ink approach and something more like negative space. Again, the one on the left feels to have more of the essence of the individual than the others. I’ve realised I usually start on the right (I’m left handed) and so it shouldn’t be too surprising that the final figure on the left is likely to be the best of the group.


As the whole environment in the clean room is white, grey, and blue, I decided to see how red would affect the drawing. Again, this goes right to left and again, my preference as regards shape and movement is for the figure squatting on the left, looking at a small object on the floor.


At one point while I was watching, the whole team formed a perfect Fibonacci spiral which I felt obliged to draw out on the screen grab and describe here. The post was picked up by the NASA/JPL media team and resulted in an unusual number of hits by people no doubt wondering how they’d found themselves on an art blog!


For contrast this is a first sketch using the Abbey Road crossing live web cam. There were so many people, standing, walking, leaning, one waving, that it was hard to keep track. I used biro just to get a hold of the frame and the geography. For my next attempt, I think I’ll confine myself to a smaller area and focus on the people moving through just that.


Abbey Road crossing via webcam. People just milling around and some posing on the crossing itself.


All there at the same time but all being very individual. Abbey road again. 7B pencil.


Back to NASA. Small group of three people leaning on and presumably discussing a technical issue. 7B pencil.


Old photo of the madness that was the Adur Bathtub Race. 7b pencil.


Runners. From a photo. Charcoal smeared with transparent gesso.


It’s fair to say moving figures are not my forte, and that’s partly because I don’t have access to many but also because making the visual transition between what I see and where I’m drawing is not as easy as it used to be. This doesn’t mean it won’t improve with practice and I’ll use the single moving figure continuous exercise to find compensatory techniques.




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