How to Draw Lots of People

By Amanda Tromley
Look at photographs to gain a better understanding of crowd dynamics.

Crowd scenes create a sense of setting and size, but drawing a vast number of people in one illustration can frustrate an inexperienced artist. You might struggle with how big to draw certain people in your composition or how much detail to add to the people in the far background. Making a large number of people appear realistic requires an understanding of perspective and line weight.

Draw one or more thumbnail sketches to determine the composition of your illustration. A little preparation will avoid mistakes, which might require you to change your illustration in the middle of the drawing.

Consider, when sketching your thumbnails, where you want to place your focal point and how the other people will interact with the main subject. Think about how to distribute the crowd. People generally gather in clusters except in the case of panic when people tend to scatter.

Sketch the basic shape of your focal point so that as you draw the other people, you can connect their reactions or emotions to the main subject. Don’t get too detailed at this point in case you need to adjust something later.

Lay out the actual background, which might include walls, mountains or buildings. Getting the perspective correct for geometric shapes in the background will aid your effort to put the crowd into perspective. Remember that all parallel lines have a vanishing point somewhere. Map out those vanishing points to keep things looking realistic.

Sketch the shapes of the people in the crowd. Don’t get detailed; just work on their body language and, if applicable, expressions. Move around the page often to avoid overworking any particular area. Draw subjects close to the viewer larger, and make them smaller as they get farther away.

Add detail to the focal point, crowd and background. Again, move around your paper often and don’t stay in one area too long. When tightening up your lines, objects closer to viewer should have thicker lines, and things further away should have thinner lines. Also, objects in the distance require fewer details. For example, a person very far away may only need dots or slashes for eyes and no nose.

Tip

Once you finish your detailed pencil drawing, consider inking, coloring or painting it to give it more depth.

About the Author

Educated at the Elkhart Area Career Center in Indiana, Amanda Tromley has worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for more than 10 years. Additionally, she writes and designs a blog that provides tips, tutorials, and tools for professional and amateur artists. Tromley began writing professionally in 2007 with articles on a variety of topics appearing in print newsletters and popular websites, including eHow.