Sktchy 30 Faces 30 Days

January 31, 2020 | 7 Comments

I’ve just finished the 30Faces30Days challenge hosted by Sktchy and it was a lot of fun! I’m generally not very good at sticking with month-long challenges that require me to sketch something specific, so my usual approach is to find the minimal viable way to participate (eg. my Inktober collection of 2019). I’m also not very good at following prompts and sketching things that don’t relate to my everyday sketching. So, I’m very pleased that I managed to sketch all 30 faces this month.

If you don’t know, for 30 days in January there was a prompt – a chosen photo and some tips (mini demo) to explain one aspect of sketching portraits from one of 6 teachers – Chantal Vincent, France Van Stone, Gunhild Hope, Margriet Aasman, Patrick Hochstenbach and Robin Hilthouse. I think that it’s still possible to sign up and you could work through the 30 faces at your own pace.

These videos were great and were a big factor in helping me stick to the challenge. I was more or less able to keep up with watching them. The other motivating factor of doing a challenge like this one is seeing all the other amazing work by the other people creating art from the same photos – inspiring and super helpful.

However, unlike most other people doing the challenge, I didn’t do one face per day nor did I try to do carefully drawn versions of the chosen photo.

Instead I tried to approach the challenge in a way which would relate directly to my sketching on location. So I waited until I had a few faces to sketch and then sketched them quickly in a short period of time 5-10 minutes per sketch, doing 4-7 faces in the one session. I generally didn’t follow the prompt (technique or material suggestions) but simply sketched in my usual style – a few shapes with paint to start and then drawing in ink using my fude pen (often into wet washes.) As a result my portraits were a little hit and miss, just like they are when I’m sketching on location! I found some of the poses to be tricky and certainly not the type of facial expressions which I would normally come across when sketching people in my local cafe.

Speaking of my local cafe… I also followed this challenge up with sketching about 70 people in ink and watercolour out on location during the month.

And I also did a few of my own sketches from photos – so that I could sketch more normal 3/4 view poses with strong directional light.

So all in all, it’s been a very productive and inspirational start to the year in terms of sketching people.

MY 30 FACES – here is the entire collection.


My big takeaway from doing this challenge is how important it is to sketch people from photos!

I guess you didn’t expect me to say that, did you?

Sketching from photos is radically different from sketching on location. When sketching from a photo the subject doesn’t move and you can focus on drawing from observation. This makes it a lot easier than sketching moving people, but because we were all sketching from the same photos, the pressure to get a likeness was great. When sketching on location, the goal is to capture the pose or one characteristic of the person and more or less you have to sketch from knowledge! Drawing from photos really helps this knowledge, especially as, when you struggle with one aspect of a portrait, there is a strong desire to go and do some research. Drawing from photos makes your lack of knowledge of anatomy more apparent. And this is a very good thing!

When sketching on location, the fact that the people are moving means that it’s almost impossible to compare your sketch with your subject and so it’s easy to cement bad habits. I speak from experience!

I think that doing this challenge has been a really great way to become even more aware of the areas that I want to do more research on. And it’s been so much fun! Thanks to Sktchy for organising and the wonderful mentors. I have to make a special mention of how super cool it was to have my great friend Chantal as one of them, and she did an amazing job with her prompts and demos, didn’t she?

Did you take part in the30 faces 30 days challenge – what did you learn? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.



  • Chantal says:

    Great to see your collection of faces together and so pleased that the challenge has helped you in some way!

  • I also did the challenge – which explains why I haven’t appeared much in the Buildings run-through, but I promise I’ll catch up!! Yes, portraits are not normally my thing, but I learned so much, trying all the different techniques. All the teachers were great, but I particularly liked the ones that were not afraid to show us how they build a portrait from scratch, like Chantal! That’s where I feel I learned the most.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Marie-Helene – I saw your work 30 faces work and not pressuring you about Buildings! Although I do look forward to seeing your work and I’m sure everyone in the classroom will be delighted to see you active! 🙂

  • Jenn says:

    Hello Liz-
    I am a drawing teacher from Queensland and I have been hiding in the shadows watching your work for years now- I find you inspirational- how really good you are at what you do- generous
    AND your faces and layout so really terrific.
    sending love and thanks- Jenn Heibloem

  • Kathy Lewis (KjAllison) says:

    Love your sketches and LOVED the 30 day course. All instructors did a fantastic job. I really like how chose to sketch in your personal style in a sketchbook and several on a page with limited time. You always inspire me!

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