OneWeek100People next week - my prep and some tips

March 4, 2022 | 6 Comments

The OneWeek100People challenge is on again next week (if you missed it, the details are here) and I’m really looking forward to focusing on people sketching again. At the beginning of 2020 I was sketching people all the time but the pandemic obviously stopped that. I’ve never really gotten back to it and so thinking about doing the OneWeek100People challenge does indeed feel like a challenge.

Yesterday I started my prep!

This involved initially getting my hand back into gear by tracing a few photos (I have a cool book from my architect days with lots of photos of entourage – cars, people, trees etc – that I use) and then I thought about what my strategy would be this year. Due to the Scavenger Hunt, I’ll be sketching more full figures (in the past I mostly did faces in cafes) and I want to add colour. So I tested an approach that used watercolour pencil, a little paint (I think I’ll start using a waterbrush for this) and then pen.

Next, I started thinking about my palette and decided that I need to create a skin colour mix  (Monte Amiata and Potters Pink) and also realised that a black  (Van Dyck Drown and Indanthrone Blue) might be helpful as well.

And then I thought about the layout of my sketchbook pages and also worked out how many of the items on the scavenger hunt list could be done in a cafe!

Note: as I’m left-handed I often work from right to left.

There is more prep that I could do (I’m referring mainly to research), but at least I’m ready to start now.

After doing this page I went out to my local cafe to test this strategy, and then I had another cafe sketching session today. On both occasions, I realised how out of practice I am!!! I’ve also had conversations with two friends who are really good at sketching people (Chantal Vincent and Suhita Shirodkar) and as a result, I’ve decided to slightly adjust my technique. Instead of a watercolour pencil I’m going to do my initial lines with a fine fountain pen with grey ink.

I should also mention that I’ve decided to start the week drawing people with straight lines so that I can focus on angles and points. More about this during the challenge itself.

A few other thoughts

As mentioned above, I want to focus on sketching full figures this year. The above image shows the last pages from my 2020 and 2021 work. In 2020 these were done while sitting on the steps of Town Hall (my last sketching outing before our first lockdown) and in 2021 I really worked on a paint-first approach to sketching cafe faces (more about that here).

So I want to combine these two ideas plus work on my accuracy.

As always I expect to mix sketching on location with research at home (including drawing from photos and tracing from photos). One of the best aspects of the 100 People week is the constant switching between sketching in public and research – intentional practice – and IMO this is the best way to see development in your work.

I will be looking for the people described on the scavenger list, but if it adds too much pressure, I’m not going to stress about it. The main goal of this week for me is to have fun… and every year that I have done this challenge I have enjoyed it immensely. This is mainly due to all the interactions I have with people while I’m sketching. It does take a lot of time though (a number of hours each day… even with my rapid sketching style!) so I hope that in the coming week I’ll be able to dedicate the hours I want!

Important Notes about the challenge

  • Hitting 100 is not that important – the goal is simply to push yourself to sketch more than you would normally. But if you want to try for the 100 consider including some simple line drawings in the mix.
  • The challenge has always officially been for 5 days (makes a nice goal of 20 per day) but if you need to extend the time period, or start early that is completely fine.
  • Sketches can be done from photos and do not need to be done on location  – though the scavenger hunt list is for sketches done out on the streets 🙂 And of course, if you are part of an Urban Sketchers group make sure your sketches comply with their guidelines before posting your work to the group.
  • Your sketches do not need to be done in colour or include the full figure – the first year I only did simple line drawings. You could even consider doing some blind contour drawings as warm up on the first day.
  • Working small helps as does drawing with a pencil.
  • Drawing people on location is hard! Don’t be discouraged by the results on the first day… just keep going and you’ll be surprised by the work you are doing at the end of the week. The overall collection of your sketches will be impressive!
  • The goal is to have fun! Sketching people on location can be a little scary at times, but I always find that doing this challenge (and having my pages filled with lots of people sketches) always does a lot for my confidence. If anyone stops to talk to you, tell them about the challenge and chances are that they will cheer you on!


Further Reading

My articles

My courses


I’m still trying to find a book on anatomy that I really like but I often refer to these two books by fellow USKers:

  • People and Motion by Gabi Camanario
  • Sketching People by Lynne Chapman

And finally, Suhita wrote a great article this week about the challenge here.

Well, putting this article together and doing some prep has made me very excited for this year’s challenge. Are you going to be joining in?


  • Ceri Donovan says:

    I always shy away from drawing people, but love doing realistic drawings of animals and I often use tracing to get the proportions right, interesting to see you mention tracing as part of your strategy, I might give it a go as a way of “training” myself to see the shapes and proportions of human faces, so that with time I should be able to include them in freehand sketches!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Ceri – yes tracing is a tool I use to help me see my mistakes. I don’t rely on it for my actual work, but for teaching purposes its so useful!

  • maria bergman says:

    Hoping you and your family are safe from the devastating floods near Sydney.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Maria – all ok and we live on higher ground … but the floods have been terrible. Thanks so much for asking.

  • kristarella says:

    This post is so helpful! I was tempted not to participate because I feel like I’ve only successfully drawn a person maybe three times and doing 100 is going to be super hard with the current rain in Sydney and looking after my baby. Giving us leave not to finish 100, do really simple lines, and drawing from books is all good encouragement. I can definitely stretch myself with this challenge!

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