Get Started With Urban Sketching

Urban Sketching

All you have to do is look at a cool sketch of an urban scene and the urge to try it yourself comes knocking. Am I right? And once you get comfy with this way of documenting the world around you, you’ll never run out of fascinating subjects to draw. Problem is, getting started can seem a little scary. But not anymore!

First, pick a location

Make it easy on yourself and try somewhere close to home. You probably have a favorite building that’s within blocks of your doorstep. Start by drawing that. Not only will you be familiar with your subject already, but you’ll get to tap into the joy of recreating something you know so well.

Feeling shy? You’re not alone — lots of would-be urban sketchers are worried about being that person, drawing in public. You’ll get over that as soon as the joy of creating takes over. But for starters, bring a friend. It helps!

Now choose your supplies

Here’s the good news: you probably already know your favorite sketching medium, so just go with it. If you’re a pro at cross-hatching and wielding a pen, use that to draw with. But if graphite is more your speed, grab your favorite pencils. You could even use charcoal or a small watercolor set if you prefer.

The point is: It’s easier to start something new when you already have some familiarity with your tools. It will make the task of drawing less daunting. Add a sketchbook, throw everything in a backpack, and you’re set.

Finally, tailor your technique

Before you begin drawing, remind yourself that this is urban sketching — as much as you may like perfection, your first effort at spontaneous outdoor artwork isn’t going to be a masterpiece full of meticulously etched details. And that’s good!

Enjoy creating something that’s loose, gestural and — most importantly — in the moment. Sketching approaches like hatching, cross-hatching and even the scribbling will allow you to build form and depth while still being able to record everything quickly and convey the essence of what you see.

Draw a Little Everyday, Anywhere!

Develop a daily urban sketching routine into your busy 21st-century life.

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