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Urban Sketching


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Tools, Materials & Time
Line, Colour, Sketchbook, Outdoor Setup and Scheduling
Chapter 2: Sketching Techniques
In this section, you get a basic course in techniques, with a chance to explore the variety of marks you can make on the page using the kind of basic art materials discussed in the first chapter. You discover what flows, what erases, what will become your favorite tool, and which of these lead you where you want to go. This is a series of tutorials aimed at getting readers to experiment. It is not about learning to sketch in a certain style-but finding a way of sketching that feels easy and natural.
Chapter 3: Going Urban
Discover how to get outside and start to work on some of the classic subjects that fill up urban sketchbooks across
the world. It starts with some essential perspective rules, which will govern everything you draw, from a balcony view
of a cityscape to an interior sketch of your favorite cafe.
Chapter 4: Populating Your World
Figure drawing is a major part of urban sketching, but is often seen as a bit of a challenge for beginners, who prefer to stick with buildings. But as we show here, you can populate your sketches with people, or create your own impressions of the people you see-without having to be an expert.
Chapter 5: Sketch As Reportage
This section effectively puts together some of the lessons learned in Chapters 2, 3, and 4, and provides a series of annotated sketches with notes on where and why they were made, the drawing materials and techniques used, and the order of working.
Chapter 6: Reading The Sketch
Handwritten notes to accompany the sketch are a favorite of urban sketchers, recording when and where a sketch was made, and what was going on at the time. But equally, the sketch itself can reflect the enormous role that words, signage, branding, and typography plays in our urban landscape.
Chapter 7: Social Networks and Sketching
Urban sketching has become a major international movement thanks to the power of social networking, with artists sharing sketchbooks and commenting on their work. The author is fully involved in this, and gives some tips to newcomers on how to become a part of the international sketching community, digitizing work with either scanner or camera, running a blog and sharing via Flickr, Urban Sketchers, Sketchcrawl, and other groups.
Index & Credits

About the Author

Thomas Thorspecken (AKA Thor) first studied art as a teenager in a sculptor's studio in his hometown. In exchange for sweeping the floors, he was offered his first life drawing lessons. After high school, he attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City studying animation and Illustration. He paid for school doing freelance illustration along with other art directing jobs. In his ten years in the city, one of his assignments was for the Daily News doing drawings of historic buildings for a weekly column called, "Undiscovered Manhattan." Thor relocated to Orlando, Florida, in 1993 to work for Walt Disney Feature Animation. After ten years at Disney, the studio closed and he continued to pursue his passion for art through teaching. He rediscovered his love of Urban sketching when he entered two sketches done on location for a show featuring works done of Orlando landmarks. After winning first place and selling both pieces in the show, he was reminded of his longtime passion for Urban sketching. On January first of 2009, Thor made a New Year's resolution to post one sketch a day, sharing it with an online community through his blog "Analog Artist Digital World". What started as a whim has now become a daily commitment that has lead to both self-discovery and exposure to Orlando's diverse arts community. As he states on the site, "This is my way to finally put down roots, to become part of the community, one sketch at a time."


Mar 14

The first thing you notice about the sketches is how 'alive' they feel and draw you into the atmosphere and feel of the original artists. There is a vibrancy and modern feel to the book that the traditional art book can lose at times. The tips it gives are handy and can persuade the reluctant to pick up a sketchbook and just have a go. As a graphic designer and concept art lecturer this book gave me an insight into the urban sketchers. To a few of my learners I asked to have a look at the book it gave a sense of movement they related to with their own concept art work being used to then model in 3D. Now if only it would stop raining I might be persuaded to go outside and draw.

* Marian Carr, Bradford College *

Mar 14

The title certainly doesn't lie. A warm, attractive cover invites the reader to join the new breed of artists, those whose work is the sketch, not just the pre requisite for some carefully orchestrated piece later on.

In four chapters, he shows the equipment and materials he uses, how the technical things like perspective and composition work and why it matters, a clear approach to putting in people and animals and finally on choosing subjects with plenty of visual ideas on what can be done. He has roped in the work of 46 other urban sketchers, so there are loads of ways of working to inspire. If you have little experience of location work, this book is a great read to get fired up. Alternatively, if you've been at it for years, there are loads of insights into the habits of other artists, all of which could confirm your own suspicions or addictions. His coverage on perspective is excellent. It is a common sense approach, not a tedious course in technical drawing. There are people who prefer to understand before they create, and those who have to create in order to understand. I think Thorspecken has managed to cover both in one hit.

Good sketches don't appear as if by magic. The book shows what goes on behind the scenes and that with a desire to learn from experience and mistakes, much is achievable. There is a lot of work in here by some very able people but remember they only got there because they went out and did it. At the end of the day, you can only draw how you draw. And any artist can only share what they do. As Thorspecken says "Learn what works best for you." At 128 pages, it is fat enough to be of use and thin enough not to lose the will to live. Evelyn Rowland, a London Urban Sketcher the south woodford village gazette

* Customer *

Apr 14

Well this is fun! Townscapes can be a hard sell, but this busy book records the city at work, at play and in all its moods. The author is Thor of the blog Analog Artist Digital World and he records life as it reels past his eye. The book mainly consists of pages from his sketchbooks, with a text that explains what he's doing and what to look for, along with useful advice on colours, as well as perspective, viewpoints and so on. There's a lot going on on every page and Thomas also draws on the styles of other artists, designers and illustrators in the Urban Sketchers movement. If this appeals to you, it's also probably something you're already doing and you may even have discovered Thomas's work already. If you thought the city was something to escape from, think again and have a look. Whatever it is you most like to paint, the city will provide it.

* *

December 2014

It's a brave publisher who brings out a book on painting in towns. However, if you were ever in any doubt about just how much fun there is to be had on those mean streets, this will dispel your qualms. There are buildings, people, shapes, colours and just Things Going On. The city never sleeps. Thomas Thorspecken is Thor of the blog Analog Artist Digital World (, which will give you a handy preview of what to expect from this book and, I hope,convert you. His style is loose, conveying movement, character and colour, rooted - but not stuck - in reality and involves the viewer like a widescreen film.

The book is actually arranged as a series of short lessons including composition, perspective, people and buildings, but you may never notice that, as every page is busy and intriguing in its vitality, interpretation and detail - Henry Malt.

* Artist, The *

Mar 14

Sharpen your pencils, circulate and sketch. This complete guide gives you the basic skills and more to capture scenes from daily life. Includes tools and techniques, going urban, populating your world, choosing a subject. All you need to know to sketch anywhere. The book has an almost cartoon strip look to it and there is too much on each page for my taste but it certainly is packed full of useful information. You'll see different styles of work from over 40 contributing artists, yet the work is cohesive and unified. Lots of tips, techniques and different media and approaches. Many examples of work but this is not a how-to or step by step book.

* Karen Platt *

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