Make Drawings Out and About

Urban sketching is a hot practice, and for good reason: Cities provide endless subjects. As I write this, I’m still acclimating to the Midwest after a weekend trip to Manhattan, which was a feast for the eyes. Actually, it’s a feast for all of one’s senses. But if I wanted to draw the city, I wouldn’t know where to start! If only I had read Jake Spicer’s book, Draw: Teach Yourself How in 30 Lessons,  before I went. In it, he shares drawing tips such as the ones you can read below.

Tips for Urban Sketching by Jake Spicer

Photo reference of Manhattan buildings

I couldn’t resist taking photo after photo on a recent trip to Manhattan, New York. Building rows such as this street in SoHo beg to be drawn. (Photo by Cherie Haas)

• Start by mapping the limits of your composition. Think about the outlines of the buildings–the silhouettes they would make. Decide what you want to draw and block in big shapes.

• Divide the composition with big shapes and lines. Think about it like a jigsaw; each piece must fit together with another piece to make up the image. Keep your eye on what you’re drawing, occasionally letting it flit back to your sketchbook.

• Add in interesting details: windows, figures, signage, etc. The big shapes of the buildings set the scale for the drawing; use them to help you keep the details in proportion. Be selective–you don’t have to include everything you see.

Also Try:
A visual diary: Make written notes on things you notice. Include details around the edge of the page.

A splash of color: Add a touch of watercolor, pencil, crayon, or felt tip for a bit of extra color and tone.

Contour drawing: Improve your observation by drawing without looking at your paper; work the opposite way around, starting from details in the center and spiraling outward.

Spicer’s Draw: Teach Yourself How in 30 Lessons is newly available for pre-order at North Light Shop. Reserve your copy today so that you can get it hot off the press and start drawing with confidence and expert guidance.

Happy drawing,
Cherie

Cherie Haas, online editor
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