By Ahmed Sharif

For most people, the start of summer means a long-awaited holiday, the end of school and studies, or quiet walks in parks. For urban sketchers it means one thing - time to get the sketchbooks out.

Urban Sketching is the practice of capturing people and places on location done via the medium of sketching.

Working as visualisers, a large part of our day is spent looking at buildings on a flat screen. Urban Sketching provides an escape from the 3D world - and a fun way to take a moment to appreciate the spatial presence of these structures and how they fit in our living environments. From an artistic point of view, it helps to understand how light affects buildings, instead of software doing this for us automatically. 

Even if you are not in the creative field, urban sketching can be enjoyed by individuals from all walks of life and with varying degrees of drawing ability. By taking the time to break down and draw buildings that you usually take for granted, sketching enables you to imprint that experience in your memory better than any photo.

This is especially true when visiting a new place. Some of my fondest memories of outdoor sketching are from my travels over the past years. I look at those sketches and they instantly take me back to that moment, vividly remembering the vibe of the place,  and the conversations I’ve had with the people who had stopped to say hello.

So what do you need to get started? For their simplicity here are a couple of techniques that can be used:

  • A pencil - The easiest to carry around and the most beginner-friendly since you can simply erase any unwanted mistakes.
  • A fineliner - Although less forgiving than pencils, drawing with a fineliner will train you to be more precise and careful with your lines. 

Once you get comfortable with a pen or pencil and you feel brave enough, you can start experimenting with watercolour or ink washes over your sketches which add an extra dimension to your images. 

So with summer now well underway, it’s the perfect time to go out and enjoy the sunshine in a new way. So what will be your tool of choice?

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