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The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective: Easy Techniques for Mastering Perspective Drawing on Location
The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective: Easy Techniques for Mastering Perspective Drawing on Location
The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective: Easy Techniques for Mastering Perspective Drawing on Location
Ebook218 pages1 hour

The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective: Easy Techniques for Mastering Perspective Drawing on Location

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A good sketch starts with good bones—this guide from an architectural illustrator shows how to think like an architect and master accurate perspective.

This book in the Urban Sketching Handbook series uses drawings and simple steps to explain the often challenging and overwhelming concepts of perspective in practical and useful ways for on-site sketching. Most books are either too abstract or don’t provide enough information that relates to what you actually do when you’re out in the busy, wide world about to start a drawing. Where do you start? How do you edit what you see to flatten and shrink it onto your paper? How does perspective work?

The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective helps you learn to think like an architect, to draw buildings and spaces by reducing what you see to simple, basic shapes, then adding layers in simple steps, and finally finishing your sketch with detail, tone, and color—in accurate perspective. Full of helpful tips, it even deconstructs sketches to show you how to create them! Once you understand perspective, it will change the way you see the world—you’ll see perspective everywhere. Key concepts explored in this volume include:

Basic Terms * Basic Spatial Principles * Types of Perspective * Building a Sketch in Layers * Special Conditions
Release dateJun 15, 2016
The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective: Easy Techniques for Mastering Perspective Drawing on Location
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  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    This book has a lot of good advice, instruction, samples and diagrams.

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The Urban Sketching Handbook - Stephanie Bower


Imagine you are standing in an amazing space, say the Pantheon in Rome. Snapping a quick photo like everyone else isn’t enough—you want to somehow capture this experience, but your group is leaving in only half an hour. What do you do? SKETCH!

Sketching on location is powerful. You have to look at something really carefully to draw it. The process of drawing imprints what you see into your brain in such a way that years from now, the sounds of the people walking by, the scent of the rain, the feel of the warm air, and much more will all flood back when you look at your sketch. Urban Sketching is about capturing your experiences on paper, and more important, in your mind and heart. It’s a great way to learn and remember.

That said, sketching on location can be challenging and overwhelming. Where do you start a sketch? How do you shrink the vast, busy scene in front of you onto your paper? How does perspective work? And where is that darn vanishing point? Understanding Perspective helps you bridge the theoretical world of perspective concepts with the real world of on-site sketching.

All good sketches start with good bones. Perspective is simply a set of rules discovered during the Italian Renaissance that allows us to translate what we see in our three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface, such as a piece of paper or canvas. These principles provide us with a simple structure we can use to create the foundational lines in our sketches.

Perspective doesn’t have to be frightening or something you avoid. Once you know some basics and a simple process, your sketches will be faster, easier, and more believable—and it will change the way you see the world, as you’ll see perspective everywhere!

Best of all, when you leave Rome with sketchbook in hand, you’ll be bringing a bit of the Pantheon with you...

Pantheon, Rome, Italy

16 × 5 | 40.5 × 12.5 cm; Pencil, watercolor, Pentalic Aqua Journal; about 45 minutes.

One-point/eye-level view.

Even in this digital age, learning to sketch what you see is an extremely valuable skill, whether you’re an architect, designer, or artist who draws from imagination, or someone who simply loves sketching over coffee at a neighborhood cafe. Thinking and drawing in perspective is powerful because it helps us understand spaces and places in the way we actually see and experience them.

This handbook provides the tools you need to create a believable sense of perspective in your sketches, no matter what style or media you use, by looking at a variety of work produced by different sketchers from around the globe. It also includes a lot of thumbnail diagrams to explain the perspective concepts featured in various sketches.


Try using a colored pencil to draw right over the thumbnails as a way to better understand the information.



King Street Station: Compass Room

11 × 14 | 28 × 35.5 cm; Noodler’s Black Ink, Winsor & Newton watercolors, watercolor paper; 2 hours. Two-point/eye-level view.




5 × 12 | 12.5 × 30.5 cm; Ink, watercolor; about 1.5 hours. One-point/eye-level view.

We can learn so much by sketching the things we see. When sketching something like a castle in France or King Street Station in Seattle, it’s like peering into the past through a time machine, into the minds of the people who created the building or space.

What did they want us to notice first? Why did they want five windows versus six? What draws your eye? And what do you want to capture in your sketch?



Schooley’s Mountain General Store

5 × 8.25 | 12.5 × 21 cm; Ink, watercolor; 3–4 hours. Two-point/eye-level view.

Sketching is also a great way to record the large and small events of daily life...wherever you are. Your kitchen, your neighborhood library, or your favorite coffee shop are all places where you can relax for an hour with a sketchbook.

Lots of sketchers talk about being in the zone when they work…the part of your brain that keeps track of time seems to shut off, and you are completely focused on seeing your subject and creating your sketch…interrupted only by the passersby who say, Wow, great job. I wish I could do that!

Paul Heaston is a master of linework and amazing wide-angle perspective views. His subject is often his home, coffee shops, or streets where he lives. His sketches elevate the ordinary to the status of art. Paul

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