Category Archives: Part 3: Project 5: Exercise 2: Study of a townscape using line

Part 3: Project 5: Exercise 2: Study of a townscape using line

Forgot to do notes at the time as had already done them for King’s College chapel… so did these first thing this morning.

My biggest memory is how I couldn’t see anything on the opposite pavement as people kept standing the way… and then moved… so I just kept getting glimpses.

And that end of the working day has a very special feel – just when things are gearing down but there are still lots of people around. Plus there was lots of cloud so no shadows.



Preliminary sketch:


Strangely, the thing I love about this the most are the people! (…especially the young girl in the foreground just left of centre)

I had seconds to draw them but they add real life and vigour to the drawing.

It’s almost like two drawings… one tight and studied (the buildings) where I had ample time to draw and the other loose and free (the people) where I had to draw by instinct.

I had the same problems with finding the perspective as I’d had in the previous exercise, when I turned my head it’s a different point of view and the perspective lines change. But I think if I did more I could begin to apply a single point of view, imaginary eye line and vanishing points and, for instance, get the litter bin right!

Drawn up picture:


This was very interesting and the thing I enjoyed most, again, was the people!!!

I tried to do these not by copying the preliminary drawings but by trying to replicate that way of working. By turning off my thinking head and just being in the moment and trying to make them ‘appear’!

How I drew it up:

Firstly I drew up the perspective lines and got the basic ‘architectural’ structures in place… then I added windows etc by hand and ruler. When felt I had enough perspective superstructure in pencil I started using black drawing pen.

When all the buildings were in place I drew the people.

Then I reviewed my drawing and changed the bits that didn’t feel right – I darkened the road. And added in any detail I’d missed like a chair in the cafe window.

What surprised me (because my sketch looked ‘rubbish’ as a drawing) was how much information I’d collected. It’s a learning process, I was thinking of it as a finished piece and judging it on how ‘nice’ it looked, whereas it isn’t that at all – its raw material to make the finished drawing.

It made me think of simplification – and working loosely.

And practice!  I would think the more on site sketching you do the better you get at perspective.

Did your preliminary sketches give you enough information for your final piece of work?

In a one word answer… yes!

And no!!

What I wanted to capture was a feel of the street and the sketch captured that. I wanted to use people as foreground detail, middle ground interest and background.

It had enough information to work out the perspective lines (though I still got some wrong!!) and aerial perspective with the details on the houses getting less distinct and objects smaller.

What would you do differently next time?

As I spent about two hours doing this and looked in detail at the bits that didn’t move… anything above head height!!!! I thought I’d included detail in my main preliminary drawing.

Next time I would do a big preliminary drawing for composition, mood and detail.

But I would also do several small sketches… say of a doorway or a window for tricky bits in the foreground or middle ground.

And make notes at the time – including colour notes and sounds/light/atmosphere.


This taught me the value of preliminary sketches and notes. And not to think of the sketches as in any way ‘finished’.

It also took me another step away from photographs… hurray!!!!!! (I didn’t take any photographs of the street).

And… again… it brought me up against the looseness versus tightness in drawing. I like looseness… and how I love people, movement and narrative in drawing.

A great exercise.