Everyday Sketching, Learn to Sketch, People Sketching, Sketching

5 Minutes Sketches

People move, it starts raining, someone stops for a chat. You settle for a sketch and things don’t go to plan.  Twenty minutes sketches turns into a 5 minutes sketches.

The doctor will call you for your appointment shortly, or your train will be there any time. There’s no time to crack your sketchbook open. Thirty minutes later you’re still waiting. You dream of the sketch you’d done if you’d got stuck in!

5 minutes sketches - Pen and Watercolour by Sophie Peanut
A few sketches on the same spread. Guests at a wedding  on the top left. Quick value study of the view from our caravan while camping (see unfinished chap in glasses in the mountains). 5 minutes family sketch – everyone is moving faster than my pen!

The value of 5 minutes sketches

It is nice to have a sketchbook full of lovely finished spreads, but sketchbooks are also great to play, experiment and get messy. Quick 5 minute sketches might not impress people as much (although you’ll find that often they do), but they are great to hone your drawing skills.

You learn drawing or painting through practice. All those quick drawings will add up. You’ll find you are faster and more confident when you start a ‘proper’ drawing.

Think of 5 minutes drawings as quick notes – gather them on a spread of your sketch book building the composition as you go along. You’ll be surprised how sometimes your quick sketch might turn into a much longer one.

There will be no pondering over missed sketching opportunities either!

Paul's birthday party drawing in pen and ink
Quick drawings of party guests with captions – I added the black ink work later to tie it together

Tips for quick sketches

  • Don’t think – just draw. Don’t think about what to draw. Just open your book and get started
  • Embrace wonky. You are drawing fast, some lines will be wonky, proportions will be out. Embrace it – it gives your drawings character
  • Not all drawings will be finished. Accept it. My sketchbooks are full of half drawn people. They just moved before I finished. It can’t be helped!
  • Make time for quick sketches. Arrive to meet friends a few minutes early, stay a few minutes late. Stay to watch the kids sports practice. Soon you’ll love waiting as it will mean drawing
Quick sketches in Ink - Sophie Peanut
Quick sketches in the doctor’s waiting room. Some people look a bit odd as I finished the sketch from memory after they moved. You can see bits of drawings underneath the self portrait, including an action sketch at a karate tournament!
People sketching in ink Sophie Peanut
A long wait at the doctor’s turned a quick sketch into a detailed study. An attempt to sketch people at a wedding every one is moving, so I end up drawing the chandelier…  off the page as I mis-judged the proportions.
Quick study of fruit trying a new watercolour set by Sophie Peanut
5 minute sketch at home. Testing out a new watercolour set. You can see a pencil sketch for a recipe layout underneath.
Sketchbook page in Watercolour and ink by Sophie Peanut
Drawing the family at home. I like the effect of the colour swatches on this messy sketchbook page.

5 Minute Sketches - How they will help you develop your drawing practice

10 Comments to “5 Minutes Sketches”

  1. Bryanna

    I had a person in a doctor’s office demand my quick sketch and ripped it up in front of me. It didn’t even look like her as I was doing gesture drawings of the room which included her. Oh well, people are crazy. Next time I won’t let anyone touch my sketches at all.

  2. Jay Artale

    Hi Sophie … do you know of a good reference site, book or video to help break down the face for quick sketches? I love doing quick pen sketches, but I just can’t grasp the features in the right places!!

    1. Sophie Peanut Author

      I haven’t got any specific ones in mind but if you carry out an internet search you should be able to find lots of info about the basic proportions.

  3. Debra

    I would love to let go of needing to get each detail, it makes me not even want to get started.
    Any tips for quick drawing of buildings, architecture, with surrounding foliage?
    I love line and wash but want it to look sketchy instead of too studied.

    1. Sophie Peanut Author

      Maybe time yourself and try 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes and 1-minute sketches. With practice, you will get quicker. Exercises such as continuous line drawing or blind drawings will help too.


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