I though I’d share this little exercise we set up in a room of my exhibit at History San Jose. The exhibit has an exercise for anyone that would like to give urban sketching a try: you sit indoors, (out of the rain, in a warm room) and look out the window and draw the view. We taped up a grid on the window and provided paper with the grid printed lightly on it. You seat yourself at an angle that gives you a good view out the window and draw what you see. Here is the poster that explains the exercise.
This technique really helps anyone who understands the principles of perspective, overlap and foreshortening but just can’t get what they draw to represent what they see and understand.
Using the grid to translate the three-dimensional world to a two-dimensional surface isn’t new. This famous illustration shows Dürer using a drawing grid to help foreshorten a figure.
I don’t use a viewfinder when I’m sketching on location simply because I feel like it gets between me and the view, but when it happens naturally, like a scene framed through a door or a window, I find it to be really useful to use the frame to draw the scene. Here’s that sketch I made out the window.