Tag Archives: urban sketching

Sketching process notes

“Loose is how a drawing looks, not how it is made” – Anon

I’ve been reading ‘The Urban Sketcher’ and building a checklist of tips which I plan to use in some experiments with line and wash following the advice of my tutor. It also reflects some useful practices I have discovered intuitively to improve my sketching and some tips from a 1-2-1 lesson I had with¬†fabulous sculptor Billie Bond in 2016 on proportion and perspective.

  1. Consider how you feel and what you want to convey. Design don’t document.
  2. Find your focal point and what you want to put most attention to.
  3. Think about what you want to leave out and suppress detail as you move away from focal point.
  4. Mark top and bottom point with a dash then outline main subject, also marking outer most edges.
  5. Sight size to measure from top of subject to its base (Line A) to use as a reference measure for all other subjects
  6. Continue taking measurements, working larger to smaller and outwards from the centre of the page.
  7. Angle check by sight sizing, moving your pen from the subject back to the paper without moving it.
  8. Once a silhouette is created, draw the inside contours of shadows on top. Outline dark shapes where the object turns away from light. Look for contact shadows where two things touch.
  9. Blend light and shadow shape together with gradations of half tone and some indications or surface texture in pencil.
  10. If composing a scene, the elements that attract the eye (items with greatest detail and greatest contrast) should combine / be placed at the compositional focal point and fade away towards the edges.
  11. Visual weight (areas of high contrast) will attract the eye so think about where darkest darks are and lightest lights. Edges where brightest light and darkest dark meet with a sharp line command most attention.
  12. Use a ‘point of view’ check to see if you are finished by holding the drawing in front of your face superimposed over the subject to check how the drawing lines up.
  13. After the pencil armature, ink over the top with impressionistic marks and begin adding all the details e.g. ornaments, chips and cracks in surfaces. Avoid cross hatching.
  14. Use a brush and ink or brush pen to place solid black marks into the shadow shapes. Lay in darkest darks, feather shadows into the sketch with hatch marks then use rubber to remove showing pencil.

Ideas for sketching near work at lunch:

  • Start small e.g. a window or a statue
  • Squares with a fountain, statute or other object in the centre
  • Ornate entrance ways and interesting doors or arches
  • Towers or domed rooftops

Papers to try

  • Smooth finish Bristol – Strathmore series 300
  • Stillman and Birn Epsilon

Pens / brushes to try

  • Lamy safari fountain pens (ink not waterproof) – fine, extra fine, 0.9 chisel nib
  • Pentel pocket brush pen, Kuretake #13
  • Da Vinci Maestro travel brushes