Travel Sketching


When you’re traveling, time is often limited for sketching, let alone painting onsite. Here’s a way to capture essentials quickly.

  1. Take a photo now, before you forget. Then draw a rectangle in your sketchbook to represent your paper or canvas. Draw a sun arrow to show light direction, and an eyeball to show your eye level. Lightly pencil the outline of your subject within the rectangle, so that the most interesting part falls near one of the four “hot spots” within the rectangle. Now you know that everything will fit and be well composed.


  1. Use pencil to quickly rough in the main shapes, carefully observing perspective lines and locating major details like doors and windows. If you had to quit now, you’d have enough information to fake a simple painting.


  1. Use black pen to go over the most correct of your pencil lines, refining shapes, correcting perspective, and adding details. Erase extraneous pencil lines. This is enough information to paint from.


  1. Add value by shading all the mid tones with pencil and all the darks with black pen or marker. Make notes about colors and edges in the margin. You can perfect your sketches later, during train rides or while waiting for your spouse to finish shopping.