Urban Sketching Course
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Imagine becoming an artist where your inspiration comes from observing your everyday life.
You would gain an eye-opening appreciation for the town or city you live in and places you visit.
Bustling crowds, interesting architecture, and wonky lamp posts would become your subjects and a fine-line pen your only drawing tool.
You could start today!
This drawing course looks at how to develop the habit of Urban Sketching – sketching the everyday environment around you. Creating a visual diary of the world and develop the daily practice of recording the story of your life through sketches.
Over 3 hours of tuition, you’ll develop an eye-opening appreciation for cities and towns and their surroundings from the view out of a bus window to a half-built construction site. It will enable you to practice your drawing skills and create fast, bold urban sketches with pencils, pens, or watercolours, whatever tools you have on hand.
The simple step-by-step tutorials follow a logical progression from creating frameworks for successful sketches, understanding perspective, using tonal blocks for a composition to capturing the movement of individual figures and bustling crowds.
- Lesson Breakdown
- Course Delivery
- Course Requirements
- What Students Say
- Student Success
What would you draw?
You wouldn’t have to wait until you had the perfect view in the perfect place with perfect pencils and the perfect light.
Creating a visual diary of the world around you, developing the daily practice of recording the story of your life through sketches, is what’s so exciting about ‘urban sketching’.
But would you be happy with your drawings?
You could say that no artist is ever truly happy with their finished works but learning how to move away from overworked drawings can be a hard stage for many beginners.
But what if your wonky lines and ‘mistakes’ actually turned into an asset?
Learning to embrace the wobble, loosening your style yet still creating a drawing that looks realistic yet sketchy, is what I want to teach you on this course.
You can learn to leave the eraser at home and develop a confidence with line.
By setting up a simple framework of a scene and focusing on the key points in the gesture, your sketches of places and people can come to life.
I’ve developed a this course to show you exactly how I approach my sketches when drawing in the city, the materials I use and how you can do the same thing.
I’ve included an introduction to the materials you’ll need and demonstrations on how to create frameworks for successful sketches using free-hand vertical lines, perspective, and tonal blocks.
The lessons follow a logical progression, from sketching buildings and monuments to capturing the movement of individual figures and groups of people in cafes.
I want this course to demystify the urban sketching process and slowly introduce new concepts, from tackling static buildings and perspective to adding movement of people and capturing crowds.
When you understand the steps to take, it can be empowering to think ‘I think I can do this’.
“Do not fail, as you go on, to draw something every day, for no matter how little it is, it will be well worth while, and it will do you a world of good.”
Cennino Cennini, Artist & Author of The Craftsman’s Handbook, 1437
What’s in the Course?
The course is a mix of real on-location sketching with studio-based lessons and concepts. So you can learn the steps in the studio and then see how they translate to the street.
- Drawing theory
- On-location drawing demonstrations in Cornwall, England & Florence, Italy.
- Studio-based drawing & watercolour tutorials.
- 15 follow-along drawing demonstrations (including watercolour wash drawings).
- 6-downloadable video lessons, split into separate chapters that follow on sequentially.
- Step-by-step instructional videos so that you can follow along at your own pace.
- Downloadable jpeg reference, drawing worksheets and a full materials list.
- Over 3 1/2 hours of detailed video instruction.
- Lifetime access, downloadable on separate devices.
Sketching the Everyday
An introduction to a range of multi-purpose sketching materials that fit easily into a pocket or satchel. Open your eyes to the drawing opportunities that surround you every day, learning to capture a moment in time within a hectic environment.
Structure & Mark-Making
Discovering the importance of verticals lines and free hand architectural structures that form the framework to your sketches. Introducing tone with simplistic tonal blocks to balance composition and reveal light & shadow, using pencil, pen & colour.
Perspective & Making Depth Work
Introducing cityscapes, rooftops and panoramas, sketching the cityscape in twilight & nightlight, including a ‘Silhouette Skyline’ incorporating watercolour washes. Observing the early morning light, capturing shadow shapes on Italy’s intricate rooftops and tackling the tricky subject of perspective on location.
Figures, Groups & Movement
Creating a realistic individual figure using ink, pen & wash. Quick tips and techniques when introducing multiple figures into your drawings, giving a sense of movement and scale. Capturing a busy crowded cafe scene using bold pen marks and watercolour marker washes.
Monuments & Street Furniture
Sketching a monument with sepia pen and wash. Observing nature, trees, bushes and water incorporating watercolour washes to add colour and life. Capturing street furniture in strong light, observing dramatic shadow shapes with fine line pens and markers, looking at the different thickness of pens.
Bringing it all together
A final project of a busy street scene incorporating vertical architectural structures, street furniture, a wide tonal range, colour contrast and figures. Looking at composition, tonal balance and adding watercolour washes to bring the sketch to life for this final piece.
I’ve taken care to film everything from my perspective so you can see exactly what I’m doing as we go through the entire drawing process in real-time with over 3 1/2 hours of video instruction, alongside full-colour photographs and drawing guides.
How is the course delivered?
- 6 Downloadable Step-by-Step Video Lessons – over 3 1/2 hours of video instruction that once downloaded – you have any time, anywhere access.
- A ‘Getting Started & Materials List PDF’ – which includes your materials list.
- A ‘Your Urban Sketching Downloads PDF’ – which includes all the reference images used throughout the course.
- The video files are large (3GB) so you need a broadband internet connection and enough space on your computer hard drive.
Please note: you do not receive a DVD
Cut by the Artist
I filmed, edited, and coloured the course myself (with a little help from Vanessa!) rather than working with a production company.
Artists have different needs than editors so I wanted to cut the course like an artist, showing you exactly what I wanted to see when I was learning.
I show all the real-time pencil marks so you don’t miss a step.
A broadband internet connection – the files sizes for the video lessons are quite large (3 GB in total) so can take a while to initially download (depending on your internet speed.) Once downloaded, they are yours to keep forever, watch without buffering or take to the garden and watch away from an internet connection!
Enough free space on your Computer or iPad – You can download the files to a separate USB stick if you need more storage space.
A Colour Printer – to print out the reference images or access to a Print Shop.
Glossy Photo Printer Paper – I use Epson Photo Glossy.
10 – 30 min – ‘you-time’ – You’ll need to be able to dedicate 30 minutes for each drawing demonstration, slightly longer for the watercolour lessons, but practice can pop up every day. On a tea break, a train ride,Some experience of drawing with pencils
A love of Italian Gelato or good coffee and a Croissant (optional, yet some might say essential)
What Students Say
Here’s a story from Stacey who took the course last year and how she’s incorporated the skills into her daily life:
Will, A year ago I took your Urban Sketching class. I had a little sketching experience and had tried to paint a few times, but my eye was too sophisticated for my skill set and I was always unhappy with what I produced, even when others liked it.
I took your class and not only enjoyed it thoroughly, but found myself able to stick with it and practice for the first time. I liked that you recommended specific pens and products and found that they worked for me as well. Your descriptions and instructions were soothing and encouraging but, more importantly, they are detailed and they work – and you never talk down to the student and neither oversimplify things that are complicated nor complicate the simple things!
Your step-by-step sections helped me see the thought processes and the steps and also helped me to trust my instincts and develop my own style even as I tried to copy exactly what you demonstrated. I practised in a notebook in the evenings and just enjoyed the process even when the drawings were TERRIBLE and the perspective totally off.
I took your advice and just stayed in the moment and had fun with the play of ink and water and line and colour. Within a couple of weeks I had improved enough that I began to share sketches on social media and in a few months people were asking to BUY them, so I had to begin playing on better paper! It is a year later and I’m drawing and painting up a storm and about ready to take your portrait class.
People remark on my “talent” and “relaxed style” — that is all a result of your teaching and your sense of humor and the techniques and attitude your classes cultivate.
This class not only taught me a lot, but started me on a path towards drawing and painting as a main part of my life, influencing much more than I could have anticipated. I’m selling drawings myself and paintings — something I literally never expected.
Stacey, Urban Sketching Course
Urban Sketching Course
No, there is no time limit, you can watch them as many times as you like.
The course is a series of downloadable video lessons, once they are downloaded they are yours to keep forever. If you change computer in the future just drop me an email and I’ll send you through some fresh links.
You can watch the lessons and courses as many times as you like and have lifetime access. If you change computer in the future just drop me an email and I’ll send you some fresh links through.
You can also download the video lessons to multiple devices (home PC, laptop etc) and if your storage space is running low on your laptop, you can download to a separate USB stick.
No, not at the moment.
The courses are available as a download only, there is not a streamable option.
If you only have an iPad you need to use either the Files App or the free Documents App to download and have enough space on your device
But there is one exception.
If you open the download links in the Safari browser on an iPad, Safari will give you an option to View or Download, if you click View, you can watch the videos without downloading.
Not hugely, I’ve kept the material list as small as possible.
For the painting courses, I try to keep the colour palette small and use the same base colours for many of the other courses. I demonstrate with artist quality paints which have a higher pigment ratio so a little goes a long way.
Yes, there are reference images and drawing worksheets to work from. You can print out the images in A4 size allowing you to work 1:1 with your reference image (a classical technique called ‘sight-size’)
An aspiring sketcher who has been working with pencil and erasers but wants to learn how to loosen up their sketches and has tried a few drawings indoors but wants to progress to sketching outside.
Well, wobbly lines are a must for urban sketching!
If you’re an absolute beginner who hasn’t even picked up a pencil before you might take to sketching street scenes as your natural style! – but if you’re not sure, I would recommend you take a look at my Absolute Beginners Drawing Course. It will guide you through all the basic materials and show you how to really understand how drawing ‘works’ when observing from life.