My minimal approach to this year's OneWeek100People challenge

March 18, 2024 | 14 Comments

Last week was OneWeek100People2024 and I love doing this challenge!

Some years I’ve been able to dedicate a fair amount of time to sketching people… but this year was not one of them. I’ve recently moved and so I was flat out building furniture, unpacking boxes and all the chores associated with setting up a new place. (BTW the packing and move all went very smoothly and I’m extremely happy with my new home and studio! I’ll share more soon!)

I wasn’t sure how I would manage to get 100 people drawn but I did have a scheduled trip on the Wednesday night to the airport (picking up friends) so I knew I at least had that. I chose a little Nostalgie sketchbook by HahnemĂĽhle and decided on a limited palette of watercolour pencils and a few markers. My goal was to keep it simple and do the minimum possible! 🙂

I ended up only having time for three sketching sessions during the week:

  • Monday 5pm – a 15-20 minute session before going for a supermarket shop (20 people)
  • Wednesday 2pm – an afternoon work cafe work session at Goodfields (21 people)
  • Wednesday 9pm – 1 hour session at the airport (over 60 people)

I’m happy that I managed to hit the goal of 100 even though I was tired and had limited focus.

Despite it being a struggle to find time, the overwhelming thought I had throughout the week was how much I love this challenge!

As I haven’t been sketching people on location for a long time (with the exception of adding a few simple shapes for people in my urban sketches) I was extremely rusty! Doing 1w100p again was a good prompt to me that I need to get back to some research and development. But it was also very encouraging… reminding me even though I know my skills are not where I would like them to be, I should still go for it!

A few other thoughts:

  • Having to sketch 100 people in a week is good for refining my process – where am I going to start? what tools will I use? where will I sit? what size should I draw the people?
  • Cafe sketching is so much fun! I was happy to get back to Goodfields for a sketching session last week as it’s been my base for this challenge in many previous years. The staff all know what I’m doing and that makes it enjoyable and engaging! I also had a lovely conversation with two ladies sitting next to me. I firmly believe that this challenge makes interacting with others easier. “I’m doing a challenge to sketch 100 people in a week” is always a fun conversation starter!
  • When doing this challenge it’s a lot easier if I can find a location where there is a constant stream of people to sketch (no waiting time). Airport sketching is perfect for this however 9pm at night during a hectic week wasn’t the best time. I was just a bit too tired to do my sketching justice.

Final thought… drawing 100 people in 2 days last week was simply a warmup! A way of seeing where my people sketching skills currently are, what my weaknesses are, and what I need to work on next. Once I’ve settled into my new place I will definitely be doing some people sketching research! Maybe even do this challenge again on my own in a few weeks time!

Did you do the challenge this year? How did it go?

(If you are reading this via email, please click on the article title link below and add a comment on my blog. Thanks!)


  • April Andrews says:

    This is my second year of attempting the challenge. Last year I managed 100 people but mostly from photos that I snapped that day. This year I decided no photos. I would only draw people in the wild! It’s still a little cold here to do much sketching outside so I did my people hunting indoors; in a restaurant, library, and from the car while waiting outside the subway station. I only managed 38 in total.

    I haven’t yet figured out where to start and how to end up with reasonably realistic proportions when done. I have a lot of weird faces and legs that are too short. I have read tips about combining parts of different people when your subjects move but that wasn’t as easy as it sounded. I think I need to make a conscious effort to sketch people during urban sketching outings. I’d like to think that sketching people more regularly will allow me to figure out some kind of strategy and shorthand for capturing people on the move.

    • Liz Steel says:

      HI April! thanks for sharing and well done for doing 38 on location! The trick of combining people doesn’t work for me – I prefer to finish off the person from memory as it can be hard to find someone else similar.

  • Cindy Robbins says:

    Hi, Liz and all! This was my second attempt at OneWeek100people. Last year I didn’t get very far and was a bit discouraged to say the least. I generally avoid putting any people in my sketches. I chose not to pressure myself this year and decided to just sketch lots of people in a week – by Friday I had 91 people, all from photos, and so decided to complete the challenge on Saturday morning with living people on location. Well, I did it!! With encouragement and handy tips from Liz and others, I managed to get 104 people-ish sketches on paper – also, four dogs and a pigeon…. When drawing from photos, I found that Liz’s strategy of starting with the ear works very well. When drawing people on location, picking the location is critical for me. I tried drawing people entering and leaving a supermarket. I had little success. Sketching people waiting for a bus and people engaged at an information table at a dog adoption event was much, much easier and I had better results. All that said, I am not being too critical of my actual drawings….. I did it! I completed the challenge! That’s enough for 2024.

  • Susanna says:

    This was my 3rd year (loved it!) but I’ve yet to upload any pics. A friend recently gave me a 4×6″ mixed media sketchbook and I decided to use it, doing 1 person per page. I now have a fun sketchbook of 100 people on 50 pages but I’ll never do this again! It was a busy week and I just didn’t have time to photograph, crop & upload 100 sketches! I do plan to upload my last few, plus a few others, hopefully before this week is over.

    It’s late winter in my rural area with few places to sketch people inside, so I did many sketches parked outside the grocery store. Very challenging, but in a very good way! I could only see each person for 5-10 seconds, so I looked for something to capture with quick ink lines (adding a bit of color later) or using water-soluble ink & water brush for a toned sketch. I also did some sketching each day at the cafe, but I had the opposite challenge there…I was too slow, getting distracted with details or painting too much.

    The week before, I did some practicing sketching & reviewing “people-sketching” notes from Watercolor On Location & Liz’s blogs…all very helpful. It was encouraging to see how much better I “see” and how my approach is much more confident than 2 & 3 years ago! I also accepted my wonky lines & “mistakes” and just keep going. And doing 100 people this year really improved my sketching!

    Liz, you often mention that you need to sketch a bit before you are warmed up and finding your rhythm. This year, I really saw this in my own sketching; I needed to do a few people before I felt like was focused and relaxed. Thank you for all your great instruction over the years and for co-hosting this annual Challenge!

  • Patricia Wafer says:

    Congratulations on the move and on completing this challenge! I’m taking the edges class right now and that plus all the usual stuff is enough for me at present. But once summer comes I’m definitely going to do this challenge for myself.

    I just had a question about your colored pencils: what is your recommended way of sharpening them?

  • June Longardner says:

    This was my first year to try One Week 100 People! Your article about it, explaining the challenge and giving instructions and tips was so helpful and encouraging! I worked from photos online. I found ballerinas to be especially helpful in showing form. They were fun! Lots of reference photos of different kinds of people. It was very difficult but it also felt very stretching. It got easier as the week went on. I think one of the biggest challenges of this was not making it harder or more detailed than it needed to be. Your article also saying it is supposed to be fun and also get us out of our comfort zone was extremely helpful to keep in mind. I learned a lot, particularly where I am in drawing people. I am doing more research into human body proportions and drawing people in general. It felt really great to complete the challenge. I used a Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook and worked with Micron markers. I only used pencil on one sketch beforehand. The other 99 I used marker only. I could definitely see participating in this challenge again!

  • Jamie C says:

    I did 21 faces in one day! I had hoped to do all five days, but life had other ideas. However, I’ve always been afraid of trying faces. I did a lot better than I expected, and am really pleased I did it! Maybe I don’t need to fear faces so much anymore!

  • Martine says:

    This was my second year and I managed to do a bit more sketching on location. And although I found it scary, I was surprised how much more I enjoyed it. I became more interested in the people I drew, wondering what their story was. And as a bonus I got to sketch some people (from the comfort of my car and at some distance) who were involved in a weird car fender bender on a parking lot. Nothing seriously, no injuries. But somehow one car managed to bump one parked car in front and one parked car in the back. People were all standing, discussing and waiting for the police. It was quite a spectacle. I really wish I had better sketching skills to draw the entire scene instead of just individual people.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Martine – great to hear that you enjoyed it more this year. And it’s amazing what happens while we are sketching hey?

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