Tips and Ideas To Spice Up Your Sketches

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Urban sketching tips and tricks to experiment with header

Are you feeling unmotivated, bored, or stagnant with your art? Try one or all of these 5 techniques that prolific artists use to spice up your own sketches.

1. Pick the same object repeatedly.

urban sketcher coffee mugs like liz steel

For artist Liz Steel, sketching coffee cups is a staple in her sketchbooks. She spends so much time in coffee shops, that it came naturally to paint what was in front of her. For another artist, he sketches graffiti he finds around his city.

By sketching the same object found in different locations, you are able to build a link among your art. What do you come across often and appreciate the form of? Shopping bags? Chairs? Pick an everyday object to sketch and keep an eye out for it wherever you go. You’ll soon have a collection in your sketchbook.

2. Stick to a limited palette of color.

urban sketch color combinations to try

It can be overwhelming when you get a new set of paints or markers. There are some sets of paint that come with 72 colors! That’s not necessary for sketching. Some artists have a palette with 12 colors. Others choose only 3. The more limited colors you choose, the more creative you are forced to be.

Try starting with a warm color and a cool color. Try complementary colors. Mix up what colors you use.

3. Implement a fade.

building sketch art in sketchbook with a fade out

There’s no need to feel rushed to finishing a sketch. In fact, you can add more focus to a sketch by leaving white space. This effect can be especially impactful for landscapes.

Next time you are sketching, decide to focus on one point and allow the rest of the scene to fade. This can be accomplished by making the color saturated on the focal point and diluting the color on the non focal points.

4. Combine multiple images into one.

urban sketching in coffee shop combine images into one

This technique of overlapping sketches can be tricky. It is difficult to know exactly where to place objects so that the finished piece doesn’t look overcrowded.

Start with just line drawings of two objects in one piece. As you start to add color (if you choose to add color), don’t overlap colors. If you do, it could make the colors too muddy. Add selective color on parts you want to highlight.

5. Go BIGGER or smaller.

Urban sketching paint big or paint small

If you have been sketching in primarily one size for a long time, consider going bigger or going smaller. Lots of artists stick to whatever size their sketchbook is, but changing the size of your sketch will require some creativity.

Some artists like Alvero Castagnet like to sketch on a large sheet of watercolor paper on location. He’s able to use a large paintbrush to start and then go into finer details to finish.

A painting as large as his will require more water and space to paint. It also will take more time, but you can capture more buildings and people in larger sketches.

Another artist Katie Woodward, does her sketches on tiny postage stamp sized pieces of paper. An advantage of this style is that it requires very little supplies to use so you aren’t carrying a lot with you. You can also finish a sketch in a very short amount of time and therefore create more of them in shorter time. And by sketching so small, you can focus on one particular point of interest.

What other techniques have you tried?

Related Article: How to Get Started With Urban Sketching

~ Jojo 🙂

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