7 Urban Sketching Techniques You Need to Know

Once you’ve got your must-have supplies ready, you’re ready to embark on the fun of urban sketching. Before you pen to paper, however, make sure you know these urban sketching techniques that will help you make the most of your drawing.

Take these approaches before, during and after you’re finished drawing to take your drawing beyond a sketch and into a cherished work of art. 

Urban Sketching Techniques

Here are 7 urban sketching techniques you need to know!

1. Using loose guiding lines to plan your composition. 

Urban Sketching Techniques

It’s tempting to want to draw the first exciting building you see and ignore the rest of the page. Before you begin the working on the fine details, however, mark where things are supposed to go.

This is key to making sure things are proportional. Consider: How tall is that building compared to the tree? What’s in the foreground and background? How do they relate to one another? Make a loose outline that will act as your map for the rest of your drawing. 

2. Hatching

Urban Sketching Technqiues

This drawing technique uses a series of thin, parallel lines to build form. The closer the lines are together, the darker your subject will appear. To imply movement, use hatching that follows the contour of your form. 

3. Cross-hatching

Urban Sketching Techniques

Like hatching, this uses lines to build form — only instead of using parallel lines, your marks intersect. Often, hatching and cross-hatching are used in combination.

4. Scribble

Urban Sketching Techniques

Scribbled marks have no rhyme or reason, which makes them perfect for more natural elements of your urban sketch, like trees and bushes. To create this technique, take your drawing utensil and quickly move your hand over the paper in loose, loopy motions.

5. Stippling

Urban Sketching Techniques

When stippling, you create a series of small dots or specks on your page. The closer the dots are together, the darker the area will appear. This is a helpful approach to producing texture — wouldn’t it look great depicting pavement?

6. Ink wash

Urban Sketching Techniques

You’ll need to bring your brush and water for this one. An ink wash can help cover large areas of your composition and add a painterly touch to your drawing. Use water to dilute the ink — the more water, the lighter the pigment will appear. Layer your ink washes on one another to build volume (also known as glazing).

7. Add watercolor to your drawing. 

Urban Sketching Techniques

The fun doesn’t have to end once you’ve returned from your urban sketching session. Take your favorite watercolor paints and color in your drawing. You can add one or two hues for a bright accent or imagine the whole scene in full color. 

Remember, while these urban sketching techniques will help you get started, the sky is the limit. Have fun experimenting and exploring new ways to draw city scenes!

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