I've had the opportunity to work on a few of these large scale crowd drawings and it's always been a really fun and totally exhausting experience.
This is the pencil (actual pencil) scan for one I did a few years back for Aussie Home Loans. Back then I was drawing on multiple sheets of A1 paper sticky taped together. Any change that was made I would have to deconstruct the bits of paper, run down to Officeworks, wait it line, scan the paper on architectural plan scanners, run home, stitch the images together and fix them in photoshop. Then when it was finally approved I inked every one of the characters with a tiny watercolour brush and almost destroyed my hand. I'm really happy with this one but it was a struggle.
Last year I was approached by the good folks at BWM who wanted a crowd drawing for their client Jemena Gas. This is my first sketch, I took mercy on myself and worked all digitally this time which was a significantly better process.
The tricky thing in the initial stages is getting a sense of the scale of people in the drawing. You want it to be nice and dense but you need to get the larger architectural forms in there too. If you add the Sydney Harbour Bridge you have to consider how that will alter the scale of everything else. So everything ends up being just a little warped until the elements sit nicely together on the page.
This kind of drawing style is called oblique projection which essentially means there is no perspective. All lines remain parallel so it's imperative to have a gridded overlay and to keep all your lines working along that grid. To make this work you have to fight your natural instinct to make things in the distance appear smaller.
We knew we wanted this one to be big so I decided to work with assets instead of drawing everything individually. It was a really fun process of making one object then adapting it to be cut and pasted all over the drawing to slowly construct the final image.
Luckily I'd undergone rigorous training in this process by wasting a sizeable chunk of my early life on the Age of Empires map builder. No joke, it was actually surprisingly helpful.
Some more of the assets. It's a funny kind of drawing in that you can't escape drawing anything. I there's a house it needs a garden that has a fence which is next to the pavement with a light pole on it, you just end up drawing everything.
This is the tough bit, hundreds of people all doing something different. You want to make them all be doing something interesting to not only make a intriguing image but also to keep yourself entertained over the hours of inking and colouring. BWM provided me with a long list of things that could be taking place but I'd exhausted it pretty fast. Your mind goes to some bizarre places after days of trying to come up with funny drawings. Definitely my favourite part of the process though.
And here it is! Had a great time on it and a huge thanks to the BWM guys for all their help and for giving me the space to really try and push it to some interesting places. This took about two weeks but I'd love to have the opportunity some day to really delve deep on one of these.