Planning an Urban Sketch: 10 Tricks for your Toolbox (Part One)

This is one of a series of tutorials on urban sketching. If you are a keen urban sketcher, subscribe to my YouTube channel, Roisin Cure, for more.

Whether you’re sketching in your sketchbook just for the sheer pleasure of it, or drawing something more formal, you always want to make the best sketch possible. Sometimes, though, you have a special reason for wanting to get a sketch just right. The scene might be somewhere you won’t be seeing again, it might be a gift for a friend whose birthday is around the corner, or you might even have been asked to sketch somewhere as a commission. I’ve been known to abandon two, even three sketches before getting it right for a client. This eats into your precious sketching time and is very frustrating – not to mention wasteful of paper – and if you have an audience, it can also be embarrassing!

So how do I avoid mistakes in the first place?

Planning an Urban Sketch

I’m going to share with you 10 things I like to consider when I’m thinking how to go about my sketch. By planning an urban sketch with a few minutes’ thought before I start, I can avoid lots of trouble once I’m past the point of no return. I’m not a planner by nature, but I have found it saves me a lot of grief when it comes to a sketch to plan in advance, even if only a little. Sure, you can go with the flow and let it happen organically – and that’s great fun too – but my 10 Tricks for your Toolbox are for those times when you’re looking for a certain look and feel.

Over a few weeks I’ll describe in detail how and why I look for elements that will make my urban sketch burst with life and colour. We’ll start with the first three tricks for your toolbox, as more than that might be too much to take in, and I’d love to see the tricks sink in over time. The next post will have three more, and finally the last four. If you want to reduce your urban sketching headaches with a bit of forward planning, then stay tuned.

So, let’s jump into the lesson!

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