Sketching People, Places, and Landscapes
As an artist, James Richards crosses many creative boundaries. His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and he’s a designer, an author, and an Urban Sketchers correspondent. Jim’s book, Freehand Drawing and Discovery, won a National Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. He teaches urban design and drawing at the University of Texas at Arlington as well as in international workshops.
Shari Blaukopf is a graphic design teacher, illustrator, and the cofounder of the Urban Sketchers Montreal regional blog. Shari has a BFA from Concordia University with a specialization in graphic design, but her true love has always been watercolor painting. Her watercolor paintings can be found in corporate, government, and private collections in both Canada and the United States. Shari is passionate about sharing her love and knowledge of watercolors, and she’s taught many watercolor workshops in the United States and Europe.
Paul Heaston received his MFA in painting from Montana State University. He’s also a correspondent for Urbansketchers.org, an internationally recognized website that showcases visual journalism. You can find some of Paul’s work on his sketch blog, Three Letter Word for Art. Paul has been teaching college-level drawing and painting since 2005.
Stephanie Bower is an architectural illustrator, a teacher, a watercolorist, and a correspondent for the blog Urban Sketchers. After working as a licensed architect in New York City, Stephanie gravitated toward a career in architectural illustration and concept design. She has taught architectural sketching at Parsons School of Design, the University of Washington, and Cornish College of the Arts.
01: Finding the Perfect Place
Meet James Richards and begin by exploring the ingredients that make a place perfect for sketching. From graphic elements and repetition to color and movement, learn to see a space with an artist’s eye. Plus, learn to select a “stimulus-rich” environment, perfect for capturing energy.
02: Drawing People in the City
Public spaces wouldn’t exist without people. Learn some basic building blocks for drawing believable people and crowds. Learn proper proportions and understand how to create a sense of depth within a crowd using your eye level line, diminishing size, and overlapping. Learn a quick shorthand for capturing people on the move.
03: Buildings as Backdrop
Learn to draw large, impressive buildings without getting overwhelmed by the architectural details. Follow along as Jim takes you through drawing Denver’s Union Station by first breaking the building into basic shapes and then simplifying details into a visual texture.
04: The Entourage
The entourage is the supporting cast that brings visual energy to a scene. In this lesson, learn to draw trees and cars step by step. Then, look for elements that are unique to your city or space. Plus, learn how to position elements within your frame to better serve the drawing.
05: Adding Color
Color can really bring your sketches to life. In this lesson, you’ll learn to make strategic decisions about where to add darks and colors. Use watercolor washes to create a vibrant look to your drawing. Then, refine the details with more opaque colors.
06: Hitting the Streets: On Location
In this lesson, hit the streets and put it all together. Get over your fears about sketching in public as you join Jim on Denver’s 16th Street Mall. Learn helpful hints and tools and get tips on determining where to start. Plus, get a step-by-step approach to bringing a lively city scene to life.
07: Thumbnails & Composition
Meet your instructor, sketch artist, and graphic designer Shari Blaukopf, and learn how to compose your sketches on the page. Shari shows you how to assess the scene in front of you before roughing in valuable details in the form of quick, informative thumbnails.
08: Drawing Facades
Whether you’re sketching skyscrapers or a small strip of row houses, Shari shows you the best techniques for breaking up buildings into manageable proportions and basic shapes. Learn how to subdivide your sketch before starting to add specific textures and details in ink.
09: Urban Texture
Add a vibrant splash of color to your work as you integrate watercolor into your sketches. Shari walks you through the steps needed to capture the look of a wide variety of building materials ranging from stone façades to metal awnings, and she’ll help you bring greater dimension to your scene.
10: Doors & Windows
Windows and doors add a great deal of character to each city neighborhood, and Shari shows you how to observe and capture those unique details with flair. Learn how to study the structure of each door and window, add color washes to enhance areas of light and shadow, and explore ways to depict reflections.
11: Details That Give Cities Life
There’s no shortage of fascinating details when you sketch in an urban area. Learn how to incorporate a symphony of people, pets, foliage, power lines, and much more into your scene without overwhelming your drawing with minutiae. Shari also shares professional tips on how to render signage and lettering.
12: Light & Shadow
Delve deeper into ways to depict light and shadow, which can transform an ordinary sketch into a true work of art. Shari helps you identify the best ways to record shadow patterns as you sketch, and how to mix and apply paint to create transparent shadows or large, dark shadows.
13: Panoramic Cityscapes
In the final lesson, step back from the immediacy of street scenes to gain a larger view of your city or town. Shari shares helpful techniques for creating panoramic scenes, beginning with identifying the foreground, middle ground, and background elements and finding key focal points.
14: Choosing & Using Sketchbooks
Meet your instructor, sketch artist Paul Heaston, as you discover the joy that sketching can offer and how it can improve your skills by leaps and bounds. You’ll begin with an overview of Paul’s favorite sketchbook and media choices before loosening up your drawing hand with some contour drawings.
15: Sketching with Pencil
Indulge in one of sketching’s most joyfully simple forms: carrying a pencil and sketchbook into the field to explore your surroundings. Paul explains graphite grading scales and shows you how to use this forgiving medium to refine your skills in perspective, distance, and more. You’ll learn how to create emphasis and dimension using a variety of line weights and textural details, gaining confidence as you practice.
16: Pen & Ink, Light & Shadow
Gain the courage to leave your eraser behind and dive into ink sketches. Paul shares professional tips for developing realistic light, shadow, contour, and value using a variety of pen types and sizes. Beginners and expert artists alike will learn valuable hatching techniques as Paul demonstrates remarkable quick and effective shading methods.
17: Color Your World with Watercolors
Add color and character to your sketchbook with a bright and versatile watercolor palette. Paul demonstrates ways to apply washes and control your paints using helpful tips that will ensure a fun sketching session. Whether you're using color to fill large spaces or simply accentuating details, Paul's techniques will help you apply watercolor masterfully.
18: Sketching on Location
Pack your bag for the great outdoors as you employ Paul’s tips for sketching comfortably and quickly. You’ll learn what tools you’ll need and anticipate the creature comforts that will come in handy for sketching sessions before assessing your locations for light and shade. Next, discover pro tips for accurately capturing both the permanent and fleeting objects in your scene, including parked cars and people who are strolling by.
19: Composing in the Field
Explore ways to use a viewfinder and your imagination to create a unique and compelling composition for each sketch. Paul shares important considerations for your location and field of view, as well as valuable composition tips that can transform a seemingly simple sketch into a dynamic work of art. Work with horizontal, vertical, cropped, and panoramic scenes as you create thumbnails to take each composition for a test drive.
20: Location Sketching Process
Examine the construction of a sketch from start to finish as you block in the simple shapes and values in your scene. Next, work from the foreground to the background as you develop basic forms, training your eye to see what’s really there as you work. You’ll learn how to infuse character into your sketch with meaningful details, resulting in sketches that range from the whimsical minutiae of your everyday life to evocative snapshots of your favorite memories.
21: Shari’s Sketchbooks
Meet Shari Blaukopf, expert sketcher and graphic designer. Shari begins by introducing the tools of her trade: the various sketchbooks, pencils, watercolors, and brushes she takes with her everywhere. You’ll also get to see a few of her incredible sketches.
Join Shari in the field as she scouts the beautiful Colorado landscape for a perfect scene. Begin with a quick compositional sketch to help determine the orientation of your drawing. Then, see how to create a value sketch, a helpful roadmap to completing your final drawing.
Look out the window and you’ll see that no two skies are the same. In this lesson, Shari shows you how to sketch four separate skies—morning, neutral, stormy, and skies with fluffy clouds—each with its own unique challenges. Plus, learn how to use different marks to create depth in your drawings.
24: Big Shapes
With your skies painted, it’s time to work on the large middle ground and foreground shapes. Shari revisits her value sketch of the breathtaking Flatirons to add in sun-drenched rock formations. You’ll also discover Shari’s method of illustrating distant mountain ranges and large foreground trees.
Enliven your scenes and give them a sense of perspective by adding texture. Watch and learn Shari’s effective method of creating a variety of textures. Then, discover how to delineate foreground elements before examining the effects you can create using both wet and dry brushes.
26: Adding Depth with Value
Learn how to add depth to your sketches with value. Using her Flatirons drawing as an example, Shari shows how to make jagged rocks even craggier while maintaining variety in the darker tones. Plus, practice Shari’s technique of adding contrast to the foreground with ink.
27: Expressing Unique Moments
Discover the benefits of working with a limited palette. Shari shows you her process of using three colors to enhance one of her completed sketches. In addition, you’ll learn expert tips on sketching everyday scenes in new, exciting ways.
28: Measuring Accurate Proportions
Meet architectural illustrator Stephanie Bower and start learning how to apply basic perspective principles to your sketching. Ease into the process with head-on elevation views. Stephanie shows you how to quickly and accurately measure an object’s proportions before blocking in simple shapes and details.
29: Building a Sketch in Layers
Whether you’re sketching the Taj Mahal, an ornate chateau, or buildings in your hometown, Stephanie shares tips and tricks for effectively capturing the scene. Learn how to break a complex façade into basic geometric shapes. Then, discover Stephanie’s technique for adding multiple layers of detail.
30: Concepts of Perspective Space
Deepen your understanding of perspective as you practice sketching locations from aerial, eye-level, and worm’s-eye vantage points. With Stephanie’s expert guidance, you’ll see how to achieve a sense of depth from a variety of perspectives using size, spacing, and vanishing points.
31: Perspective Angles
Feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of a scene? Stephanie demonstrates how to develop the basic foundation of a sketch in three easy steps. You’ll also get detailed explanations on how to identify and work with one-point and two-point perspectives.
32: Using Watercolor
Once you’ve finished your sketch, enliven your work by adding watercolor. Get tips on selecting the right paper, pencils, paints, and brushes; then, learn simple techniques for mixing colors while creating a classic color wheel. Plus, find out how to effectively portray shade and shadow with watercolor paints.
33: Location Sketching: Interior
Go on location with Stephanie and practice drawing interior spaces using the techniques you’ve learned so far. You’ll get step-by-step instruction along the way, from blocking in basic shapes and measuring for proportion to sketching smaller details and adding watercolor to complete the look.
34: Location Sketching: Streetscape
Move outdoors and apply your perspective skills to a bustling streetscape. Stephanie guides you through the process as she demonstrates how to determine the vanishing point before sketching in the basic shapes of buildings and alleyways. Add layers of shading and detail, then apply watercolor for striking results.