My book “The Urban Sketching Handbook: Techniques for Beginners” releases today!
This is a quick little video I created for it. (Sorry about the strange formatting, it’s a square format made for instagram and has odd black borders here)
Over 70 urban sketchers contributed their work to help create this book. There’s content, styles and tips for just about anyone, and lots of inspiration on how to keep on urban sketching, even in these challenging times. Simplified techniques for drawing objects, places, and people are included, along with lots of visuals to explain and inspire. A HUGE thank you to all the urban sketchers who shared their work
And because I think a lot of us, in certain parts of the world, really need a creative break today, I’m sharing a spread from the book as a downloadable pdf.
I hope you use it to sketch soon. (If you do, tag me online, I’d love to see your work)
Here is that same content , if you prefer viewing it as a blogpost. This spread is excerpted from the section on “Drawing Objects”. Most sketchers start with line first. For a fresh take jump right into big shapes using the method below.
SIMPLIFYING WITH SHAPE
Sometimes you look at an object and it looks so detailed you don’t know where to start drawing it. Seeing it in big shapes helps simplify and unify all the parts of it.
Step 1. This fire hydrant has a fair amount of detailing, but under all that is a single big shape. I capture that shape first, looking carefully at its silhouette. Switching colors, but continuing in a single shape, I capture it’s shadow to help ground it and add a few spots of color for the fall leaves on the pavement. Just shapes—no details yet.
Step 2. Observe the smaller shapes created by shadows and rust marks on the hydrant. Look carefully: rarely do you see perfect geometrical shapes you can name. The big yellow shape of the hydrant is cylinder-like, not a perfect cylinder. The smaller shadow shapes on it aren’t shapes you can name either.
Step 3. And to finish, I add just a few details in line.
Seeing in shapes first can be applied to objects small or large. It comes in handy when your subject might move away quickly. You can capture the big shape first, and then record the details in the time you have left.
When I spotted this tree-trimming truck, I quickly recorded a big shape in orange and gray watercolor. In what time I had left, and without waiting for the paint to dry fully, I added detail before it moved away. The suggestions of the road and the tree were added after the truck left.
If you enjoyed this excerpt, you might want to get yourself a copy of the book.