How to draw strangers in public (the easy way)

I’ve often felt a little bit nervous when drawing people in public; this is for a number of reasons, firstly that they might suddenly walk up to me and complain that I’ve made them look ugly and secondly I fear that they will suddenly walk away before I manage to capture the whole scene. However, recently I have spent quite a lot of time on long train journeys, during these I have realised that such journeys are the ideal place for drawing strangers!

Train 4-a

On my recent trips through both Germany and Scotland I have managed to do a few quick drawings of people and am now willing to share my secrets of how best to get them onto paper.

So here comes my advice:

1. Wear sunglasses. Not only makes you look sophisticated and stylish, but it also helps you to hide the fact that your eye keep bouncing between the object of your ‘desire’ and your sketchbook .

2. Keep your head still.  Don’t move your head while drawing – but only your eyes- and turn your head towards the window every few seconds, this way people might think you’re drawing the landscape outside.

3. Sleep is the key. At some point on a long journey most people fall asleep, especially when it’s warm outside, so all you need to do is wait. Once they have drifted off they are exactly where you want them!  In many cases they hold the pose longer than most life drawing models!

Train 6-a

Train 1-a


Train 7-a


6 thoughts on “How to draw strangers in public (the easy way)

  1. Ha ha. I would have written almost the exact same thing if I had written this blog, except that I do my drawings on an express bus ride home. I usually have about 40 minutes to draw someone. If you look at the ballpoint pen drawings on my blog, you can see that most of my subjects have their eyes closed. Good blog and it’s nice to see someone else out there doing almost the same thing I’m doing.

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