# The Human Scale

As human beings we?re naturally drawn to “people watching.” Luckily this can be accomplished anytime: while waiting to pick someone up or sitting on public transportation, for example.

Another wonderful capability we have is that we?re extremely astute about posture, gestures and body language, and about detecting what?s human and what isn?t. So a game I play is to add a tiny brushstroke to a painting to suggest a person or two. I challenge myself: What is the minimum amount of paint I can use and have others believe there?s a human being in my painting?

This exercise is fun, and putting people in paintings adds a dramatic sense of scale. We all know the approximate size of a person so once we spot the human in a painting, everything else is automatically scaled to the person. And the sense of scale can grow dramatically?and instantly?as our mind calculates the magnitude.

Tiny Brushstrokes Make Tiny People
1. Remember, we want to suggest the gestures with the fewest and simplest lines. So, forget the feet and the hands. They?re not necessary.
2. Add the head last and keep it tiny. Surprisingly small. Think: pinhead. You can always pump it up a tiny bit. But a big head ruins this effect.
3. Keep the paint a light value. These tiny people are usually quite far off in the distance, and their values would logically be diminished by the space between us and them. Often I use a light, watery purple or watery blue.
3. Start with a jab-stroke. On a practice sheet, make 10 to 30 jab strokes. Usually I start by pressing the heel of a small brush (maybe a No. 6 round) moderately into the paper, then pull and lift. The stroke usually is heavier at the top and trails to a point. Don?t overthink this part. Keep it fast, small, intuitive.