Capturing Chaos: workshop review (and downloadable pdf)

It’s always an honor to teach at an Urban Sketchers Symposium. I taught my first workshop in Brazil last year and was thrilled to teach again this year. My workshop in Singapore was titled  Capturing Chaos: Drawing a Crowd. Here is a recap of the experience – and the downloadable pdf I promised to post.

What better place to draw a crowd of people than at the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple (Chinese temple) on Waterloo Street? This is one of the demo sketches I did at the workshop: the ornate temple in the background, colorful red and yellow umbrellas with flower and incense vendors and the crowds that pass through.


Part 1 of the workshop was sketching people using quick line-of-action sketches (more about this in my handout).

I love this first bit, because we invariably begin with many of the participants claiming they can’t draw people, but halfway through the workshop, they proceed to draw pages of very convincing figures.


In Part 2, we talk about putting it all together to create a single sketch of a crowd.

To capture the crowd, we worked in alternating steps of structured and unstructured sketching, embracing this contradiction. The opening statement on the handout outlines the approach we used through the rest of the workshop.

Here are some shots from the workshop. It was a hot, humid, and challenging 3.5 hours, but the participants were super enthusiastic and we ended up with some really interesting captures of life on Waterloo Street, Singapore.


These are shots of sketches-in-progress by workshop participants.

Here is pdf_screenshota link to a downloadable version of my workshop handout, which includes a brief overview of the exercises we worked on and some random thoughts on drawing crowds. Click on the image below or use this dropbox link to download a pdf of the handout.

Thank you Shari BlaukopfRolf Schroeter, Veronica Lawlor and Barbara Weeks for letting me use your sketches in this handout.

If you download the pdf and use the material, leave me a comment, tell me what you thought… I’d love to know.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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23 Responses to Capturing Chaos: workshop review (and downloadable pdf)

  1. Thank you for making your notes available. Some great tips in there – I look forward to giving them a try!


  2. Annie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this handout, Suhita, I almost feel like I was there. I haven’t used it yet, but I wanted you to know that while it was printing, I started cleaning off my work surface of reports, lists, the detritus of everyday life. You have really influenced me to gather myself up for the sketching I’ve been neglecting. Thank you in doubles!


  3. Eric Ngan says:

    Thanks Suhita, a very enjoyable workshop in Singapore. Energetic presentation, engaging guidance with really strong practical drawing knowledge that I could take away and apply immediately.


  4. Virginia Hein says:

    This is fantastic, Suhita–so great that you are making this available on your blog (plan to do the same). Love your demo sketch–so full of energy while being so elegantly composed.


  5. edricism says:

    Thank you for sharing your notes so generously, Suhita! Plenty of insights and great tips in there indeed. It’s a pity I didn’t get to attend your workshop or meet you properly in person during the symposium. Hopefully next time! 🙂
    Edric Hsu (Singapore)


    • Edric, the symposium is always so hectic, I feel like I never meet even half the people I mean to… but there’s always next time. I’m missing Singapore, especially the people, such a fantastic and talented bunch of sketchers the Usk Singapore group is!


  6. sanjeev d. joshi says:

    thanks for sharing..i am also one of them who are not good at drawing people..but after reading this will give it a try!..lovely works too.sanjeev joshi


  7. Thanks so much for this, Suhita. You are always so generous with your material and for those of us who couldn’t go to Singapore, this is especially helpful. I know how great your workshop was as I have talked to some of the Australian sketchers here in Sydney who did your workshop and who’ve shared their sketches they did with you in Singapore!


  8. Luisella valeri says:

    Thank you! for me it is very interesting to know this approach, as quickly draw the characters and how to put them together. I am a beginner and I find it really interesting these inspiring examples which you have kindly shared. THANK YOU A LOT! Luisella from Italia


  9. theartistonetheroad says:

    I would have loved to have attended your workshop! Thanks so much for posting your notes Suhita, it’s the next best thing.


  10. jjadams100 says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!


  11. Swati says:

    Thanks a ton Suhita for sharing the PDF about drawing a crowd. I really enjoy your style and this PDF gives me an insight on how you approach your drawings. It also inspires me to just let go of my fears and sketch!


  12. 松川久美 says:

    Thank you so much, Suhita! You are so generous to share the PDF. I have attended your class last year and learned firsthand experience, now got the idea more by reviewing your words / instruction.



  13. Great handout — I love the initial gestural suggestion — thank you!


  14. I enjoyed your workshop so much, …. I’m using your technique to create chaos back home .. 🙂


  15. Amelia says:

    I loved your Craftsy class — would you consider doing a follow-on on crowds and building people into more complex scenes?


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