10 Steps To Sketching In The Landscape

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‘Pencils and Pixels’ is a learning resource aimed at helping you to improve your communication skills through drawing. An important part of the design process is to develop ideas from the imagination …

‘Pencils and Pixels’ is a learning resource aimed at helping you to improve your communication skills through drawing. An important part of the design process is to develop ideas from the imagination and share those ideas in the wider world. Whether you are having a conversation with yourself or with others, improving your drawing skills will help you to explain that most important of questions, ‘but what will it look like?

For more information and related videos, visit: http://pencilsandpixels.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/lessons/lesson-1/

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  • 1. 10 Steps to Sketching in the Landscape: Film 1: Keeping a Sketchbook 10 Steps to Sketching the Built Environment Step One: Position yourself correctly Start by finding a view that you like and that you feel you will enjoy drawing. Walk from side to side until you feel you have the most interesting content. Next think about the ideal distance from the subject you want to draw. Make sure you are not so far away that all the important details appear too small, but not too close that you cannot see the view without moving your head from side to side. Dominium means ‘to find the right position’ in relation to the subject. Remember the subject will not change, but how it is viewed will alter depending on where you choose to stand. Perspective will also be affected by where you stand. Take a moment to analyze how the perspective will look in your drawing so that you can choose the most appropriate place. Try to avoid perspective that is too narrow on one side and so is hard to draw realistically. Make sure you will be comfortable standing or sitting for a while to complete your drawing. Get ready to ignore the world around you and concentrate on your sketch. Step Two: Decide on the limits of your drawing Once you have established your position, you need to decide how much of the subject you are going to include from side to side and up and down i.e. the horizontal and vertical limits of your subject. At this stage you should decide if you wish to hold your sketch book in the landscape or portrait position. As a rule of thumb, if your subject focuses on horizontal elements, draw your sketch in landscape format. For images that focus on vertical elements use a portrait format. Identify key elements on each side so that you can subconsciously use these as the limits of your drawing, but make sure you can see all these key elements without moving your head from side to side, concentrate instead on what your EYES will see. Try to do this quickly to establish the relationship of the proportions of your sketch to the proportions of your sketchbook. Step Three: Find the horizon line Fix your eyes in the centre of the subject you plan to draw, look straight ahead and define where the horizon line would be. Remember – the horizon line is ALWAYS at the same level as your eyes whether you are standing, sitting or lying down. Carefully draw in this straight line as gently and accurately as you can so that you can refer to it without it taking over your drawing. Look carefully at how parallel lines join at multiple vanishing points on the horizon. Step Four: Making visual notes Don’t panic! Now you have set up your drawing it is tempting to be overwhelmed by the complicated subject you can see. Remember it is possible to record a ten second view as a visual note – you do not have to be an ‘artist’. What you draw will be an informal conversation with yourself. 10 Steps to Sketching the Built Environment: Pam Locker
  • 2. 10 Steps to Sketching in the Landscape: Film 1: Keeping a Sketchbook Try not to be distracted by the detail that floods through your eyes into your brain. Be firm with yourself and organize the most relevant parts of the subject. Take a moment to look at the subject and analyse the key objects, trying to imagine them without any detail. Set yourself a time limit. Step 5: Sorting out proportions Try to avoid being distracted by the detail. Analyse quickly how you can divide the subject into different parts and limit this to four or five. Look at where you can see simple shapes e.g. squares, rectangles and circles. Look at how they relate to each other proportionately. Identify the main large elements e.g. a large rectangle that forms a building. Now look for other similar shapes and think about how big they are in relation to each other e.g. the next building may be made up of a rectangle that is roughly the same width but is half as high. Take a little time to control these judgments as accurately as you can, as this will help you fill in detail later on. To start with draw these elements as dots until you are happy with the proportions. Also try to control the ‘line’ making, as this is crucial for giving a proper sense of form and visual effect. Be kind to yourself – this skill will take practice and will not come easily at first. Step 6: Write down notes As you work on the drawing ‘information’, the image will begin to reveal itself. You will begin to notice things that at first you did not notice. Thoughts may go through your head in relation to your drawing. Write down your thoughts alongside your drawings so that you remember them. Sketching is a visual conversation with ones self. You may find you don’t get something quite right – make a note to yourself, but do not worry about mistakes. Step 7: What to draw By this point you should have the basic bones or a framework for your drawing. The shapes should be more or less in proportion to each other around the horizon line so that you can ‘hang’ the detail on your drawing. You now need to fill in the details of buildings. Count the number of windows and look at how they line up with similar elements elsewhere in the drawing and start to add these details. Look at strong verticals e.g. lampposts, trees or cranes and horizontals like roads, fences and handrails. These elements will help you to link your framework together as a recognizable image. Step 8: Light Now that you have started to add detail you will notice that light is an important element in revealing objects. Start by looking at how the light falls, where is the sun or light source? From this you will be able to see which sides of buildings are in the light and which are in shadow. A strong shadow alongside something will help to reveal its shape. Do not be afraid to add really strong shadows to your drawing. Some elements e.g. windows may actually be completely black. Shadows add tone and can be achieved by cross-hatching with pencil or pen. For large areas the more cross hatching you use the darker the shadow will become. Small areas can be simply 10 Steps to Sketching the Built Environment: Pam Locker
  • 3. 10 Steps to Sketching in the Landscape: Film 1: Keeping a Sketchbook ‘coloured in’ quickly with pen or pencil. The more contrast you manage to include the more dramatic your drawing will become. Including shadows in your drawing will help develop a three-dimensional quality to your sketch. Step 9: Adding atmosphere What happens from now is your personal choice. Add forms, textures, voids, sky, and people to produce contrast, atmosphere and scale to your drawing. Remember the quality of the marks you make, a couple of lines may be enough to represent a person or animal. Do NOT draw every brick or leaf but focus on the larger picture. Step 10: Finish and reflect Always keep in mind the relationship between ‘time and subject’. Do not spend hours on a single sketch. Particularly when you first start, force yourself to limit your drawing to 10 or 15 minutes as this will help you to concentrate because you are working to a deadline. Discipline yourself to focus on the object chosen and be selective about what to draw. If you are not careful you will find yourself focusing in on irrelevant details instead of looking at the whole image. Do not worry if you do not finish off the ‘edges’ of your drawing. Draw enough to give yourself the most accurate account of the subject that you can without fussy details. Know when to STOP! Finally but most importantly always remember that what you are drawing is a VISUAL NOTE, a personal conversation with yourself. Do not worry about creating works of art! Some of your sketches you will be really proud of and some will be terrible, this is how it should be, so do not worry. Sketching should be a fun way of practicing you’re drawing and analyzing the world around you. By doing this you will build up your own visual dictionary of how the world really looks and how it is made. 10 steps: To Sketching the Built Environment: A quick reference guide 1. Find a good subject and position yourself correctly 2. What are the limits of your sketch, will it be horizontal or vertical in format? 3. Gently and accurately draw in the horizon line 4. Do not be overwhelmed by detail – this is a personal sketch not a major work of art. Set yourself a time limit. 5. Identify the main key shapes and work out their proportions to each other. Draw them in as dots to start with. 6. Add written notes to your sketch 7. Add selective details to your sketch – windows and doors etc 8. How does the light create major shadows and tone 9. Consider including people to add atmosphere but avoid too much detail 10. Know when to stop, enjoy yourself and do not worry when some sketches are better then others. 10 Steps to Sketching the Built Environment: Pam Locker
  • 4. 10 Steps to Sketching in the Landscape: Film 1: Keeping a Sketchbook Pencils and Pixels by The University of Lincoln is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non- Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. For more information, see http://pencilsandpixels.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/license. 10 Steps to Sketching the Built Environment: Pam Locker