Last  night I received a call.
My friend told me that I should draw something that I am not used to. That it would be a great start for the365 keep sketching challenge”. That night he was playing football. He asked me to join them to sketch them playing. I told him that I tried such thing in a park. That is really a hard exercise to sketch people playing sports. Why ? Because players are non-stop keeping moving ! At your first stroke, the players are already far away.

I accepted the challenge. I took my graphic tablet, ready to draw with Sketchbook Pro.

football-saigon-choutac-chung_thumb[4]Warm-up time.
I calibrate my pencil thickness and start with something simple.
Let’s start with the goalkeeper who is waiting for some action.

football-saigon-choutac-chung6_thumb[5]Let’s get some action !
The whole body is in movement. Make sure that the clothes follow the gesture.
Ask yourself: is he trying to stabilize, accelerate, block the ball ? In which direction goes his leg, arm…
Capture the player emotion and the intensity of the movement. Both are mostly related.
Despite these observation, the player remains quite static.

football-saigon-choutac-chung8_thumb[4]More action.
Looking for more intensity, I choose that head action which the whole body follow.
But the sketch also end kind of static. I could imagine him sitting on a bench.

Capture fast, replicate fast.
Any action last less than 1/10 second. To capture that, I can’t possibly remember every single detail. I had to prioritize the elements to remember.

At first, I decide to do not bother with the clothes, but the player silhouette. That gives me a rough shape of the whole body, looking at negative space (example: space between the legs of the player). It helps to get the player attitude. Is he confident, clumsy, scared ?
I imagine the players skeleton and muscles underneath the clothes. If you capture that and put these few lines on paper, you have done 80% of the job. That’s a perfect example of the 20/80 law*.
*The 2 first step can take 2 minutes to draw, when detailing, 8mn.
After that, you got free time to add clothes and details as they remain on the field. The initial silhouette will help you to build it up. If you understood well the movement, you can reproduce the clothes dynamic not much by memory but logic* (instead of trying to copy what you see).
*Think of how a flag react when you shake it.

“Gravity line”
I paid attention to how the players stands and stabilize on the ground; looking for what I call the “gravity line”. But, I was still not satisfied on the body movement and realized that I didn’t practice properly the action line.

Action line.
The poses are more natural and fluid. The whole body seams to be more harmonious.

football-saigon-choutac-chung10_thumb[2]The action line is the main and simplified line of the whole body gesture.
I start with it, then I build up the character around it.

football-saigon-choutac-chung1_thumb[3]football-saigon-choutac-chung12_thumb[2]I pay attention to the joint, elbow, knees, wrist… simplifying them by a circle or ellipse. Connect them to build a rough body skeleton.

football-saigon-choutac-chung9_thumb[6]As a shoe lover, i couldn’t resist to make a quick sketch of a sneaker.

I took my loyal ballpoint pen and sketchbook for a last sketch.

Running player

Sketch the world

I invite you to go out and sketch people and anything you could meet along the way.
Books, magazines, Google image will never beat real life. See things in volume, under lights and your observation skills will improve!

football-saigon_thumb[2]The football field of Ho Chi Minh. It’s not rare to see them playing until 1am.

Hope it helps. Let me know what’s in your mind !
That’s all for today !

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About The Author


If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my career, I believe that they can also help you to learn, and help you with your projects. Whether Design is a job or a hobby it doesn’t matter, so long as you do what is important to you.


  • bas

    Reply Reply December 1, 2014

    more exciting to do my own 365 follow each of your tips. like I am in the classroom that no walls 🙂

    • Chou-Tac Chung

      Reply Reply December 2, 2014

      Hello Bas, yeah please go ahead. I am sure it will be exciting !

  • Hi Chou
    Yes really a good exercise to go out and draw real people in motion!
    I really live the negative drawing, this is the technique that lade me go further

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