Workshop I: Actors on Stage: Sketching Characters on the Street

Instructor: Marc Taro Holmes (Canada)

Location: Waterloo St (Outdoor Bazaar & Cheng Yan Court)


Workshop Schedule

This people-sketching workshop will consist of four short exercises, each building on the one before:

– Crowd Scenes: The Cast of Thousands
– Character Actors: Costumes tell a Story
– Tell a Story in Three Poses: Beginning, Middle, End
– Actors on Stage: Bring the Street to Life

We’ will practice quickly sketching gestures with the emphasis on getting postures instantly. Then we’’ll try some tricks to make portraits of specific characters. Finally we’’ll apply what we’’ve practiced on real people in action, and finish off with a final sketch of a street or square full of life.

At first, we will be drawing very quickly – one minute, or five minute drawings. It might even feel too fast until you get warmed up!

But don’’t worry – the idea is to practice the real skills we need to capture people on the street.

It’’s important not to concern yourself about the quality of your drawings while we practice. Just have fun, and you will surprise yourself with a few great sketches!

You will come away having tried a method that is fun to practice, always gives you a few good sketches out of every couple of tries, and will help you learn on your own back home.


Learning Goals

– Gesturing: capturing instant poses in continuous line,
– Break the figure into big shapes, detail falls naturally in place,
– Key framing, storytelling with sequential poses,
– Filling your architectural urban sketches with people.



Students can work with whatever tools they are use to. This is basic urban sketching not requiring any special equipment. Fountain Pens, Roller Balls or Pigment Markers are likely choices. But, crayons, colored pencils, or pastel could work too. I like to have a brush pen to quickly note shadows and dark shapes. A portable watercolor kit is handy, but most people will not have time for color in this workshop.

I would recommend a medium sized sketchbook (6 x9” or 8×10”) so that you can draw multiple figures on a page without carrying too much stuff. I use binder clips and a backing board to support my book, and hold the pages open.

You can also just draw on loose paper, 80lb or more, smooth surface. You can get this at any stationary store, usually called ‘cover stock’ here in North America – for use in printers and photocopiers.

For detailed information on my sketching gear, go here: