Part 4: Summer 2011 to Summer 2017

Subway sketch step by step on the Stillman & Birn Sketchbook

Here's an attempt to fill a double page spread of my Stillman & Birn 4X6 inch sketchbook with people on the commuter train and subway. I remembered to take photos of the sketchbook at most of the stages this time.

This is from the morning train. First I penciled in the standing man. When he left the train, I sketched the man reading a newspaper sitting not far away. This is the "capture" stage in my "capture and render" approach to sketching. First I capture the subject in pencil, carry it with me unfinished until I reach my desk, and then render it in ink and watercolor.

Next, I rendered it in ink at my desk, using a Kuretake brush pen with Platinum Carbon ink for the outlines, and a Platinum Carbon ink fountain pen for the hatching within the figures.

Then I added watercolor from my nine-color palette. Commuters in Tokyo tend to wear a lot of black. The next popular color seems to be olive drab. I try to stick with the colors as I recall them because I do want to keep a fairly accurate record of what people are actually wearing in Tokyo right now, but sometimes when there's just too much black, I'll use a different color which I might have seen somebody else wearing.

On the evening train I captured more figures in pencil. First I drew the sitting woman and then added the pointing man (OK, he was actually hanging onto a strap). Then I transferred to a different train and drew the standing woman. The commute to and from work takes two trains and usually lasts about an hour when the trains are not delayed due to accidents. Then, all bets are off.

Here I noticed my big mistake; the pointing man was standing a bit far from me, so I placed him in the background. This took away my options for what I could draw in the foreground. I couldn't put a standing figure very close to the sitting woman now, and I couldn't put anyone sitting next to her either -- unless I wanted to erase most of the man I just sketched. That's why the woman on the left is so far from the others.

I must remember to draw the foreground figures first and then add background figures last.

Later at my desk I rendered in ink what I had captured in pencil.

Then I added watercolor.

The next morning I captured two more figures in pencil.

Later at my desk I rendered in ink and added watercolor.

Then I added a few shadows or reflections so the people are not floating in space, and filled in the gap a note reminding me to always draw the foreground figures first...

I took this last photo under the window, and apparently the blue sky affected the results.

This turned out OK, but I must admit that for commuter sketches like this, the awkward panorama format of the Moleskine is more novel has more impact than the more "sensible" format of the Stillman & Birn.

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