Ugly Sketchbook: Two Washingtonians

Two more pages from my “Ugly Sketchbook”, a cheap 3″x5″ cheap scratchpad used to quickly capture or doodle just about anything. These two pages were inspired by some of the interesting people I see while making the long walk from the Metro station to my office here in Washington, DC. The top image was a hipster I saw longboarding along the street, while the second image was inspired by some guy I spotted sitting outside at a cafe, seemingly relying on his coffee for more than just an alertly-awake state.

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Metro Sketch

If you’ve ever ridden the Washington, DC, Metro, then you’re accustom to the unique interior colors of the train; a palette of burgundy, orange, yellow, and blue straight out of the 1970s. Though decades old nowadays, they still sometimes visually complement the colors of the clothing worn by some of the commuters. I sketched this individual on the Metro, noted down the colors, and then completed the sketch with my markers at a cafe immediately after debarking from the train.


Metro Sketch

Full frontal/facial sketches are some of the most challenging sketches to attempt on the Metro; while I try to be discrete and respectful of the people I sketch, sketching people sitting directly across from me presents the greatest risk of being noticed. Generally, though, these people are either asleep or too fully focused on their devices to notice me. Of course, there’s always that other challenge; on-boarding passengers unknowingly blocking your view and pretty much ending the sketching session.


Metro Sketch

When sketching people on a busy commuter train, some days you just get lucky; this gentleman, with perfectly-coiffed hair, simple demeanor, and conservative wardrobe (including those cool wrap-arond earmuffs), slept still and poised for the duration of my commute. Best of all, my line of sight to him was at no time blocked as the train took on additional passengers.


Metro Sketch

Some more sketches of people on the Washington, DC Metro, and just in case you were wondering, no; people really don’t smile too much on the Metro (followers and guests of Sketchbook Warrior have actually asked me about this…) Without waxing anthropologically, I can tell you that the masses commuting into DC in the morning are usually vey tired, somewhat defeated, and stare blankly into space as they contemplate another day in the DC political battlefield. They may be virtually catatonic, but they sure do make for some great life drawing practice.

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Metro Sketch

When sketching on the Washington, DC Metro, I sometimes come away with a nice capture of a full person, their detailing and personality, or even a rich color study. Other days, though, I come away with bits and pieces of people, half-drawn poses, or a mangled-mess of heads, hands, and faces. I have a name for pages like these; I call them “practice”, and between every page containing a Behance-worty sketch, there are tons of pages that look like the ones below, with the former not being possible without the latter.

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