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
• 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.
• 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.
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