Simple Watercolor Urban Sketching | A Brick Wall | Maria Giulia Escard | Skillshare

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Simple Watercolor Urban Sketching | A Brick Wall

teacher avatar Maria Giulia Escard, Practicing Exploring Sharing

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (58m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Pencil Sketch

    • 4. First wash

    • 5. The Bricks

    • 6. Roofs and Windows

    • 7. Last Details and Shadows

    • 8. Final thoughts

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About This Class

Urban sketching is a fun technique. It's a more creative alternative to snapping a photo with a smartphone, while roaming in a village or town. I always get interested by elements I find during my walks through the city: doors, windows, streetlamp, even dustbins are very attractive to me.

One can then take the time to draw and refine on the spot, or just quickly sketch the scene on the spot, and once at home, detailing and coloring. 

The most fun is to change a bit the scene in order to adapt it to the artist's feeling and taste. Changing one detail can give a real turn to the scene

The basic steps of urban sketching are

  • DETECTING THE RIGHT SPOT TO DEPICT, be it a front view, such as in this class, or a¬†crossroad, a corner, or any other urban element
  • SKETCHING IT WITH PENCIL, ERASER AND RULER,¬†bringing it down to simple geometrical forms, connected to each other. I will show here how I give depth to the painting, showing the distance of a background building
  • COLORING IT WITH WATERCOLORS. Here the focus is on giving a first wash, and, following this, on¬†detailing the different elements of the picture: bricks, windows, grass.¬†
  • achieve this I normally use a fineliner, with water resistant ink, but even a pen or a pencil can be used

A basic palette and a set of three brushes will be all you need. Fineliner, white gel pen, metallic markers are shown in the class but can be replaced with any pen that you have under close at hand



The main interest of this painting is represented by bricks, and U will show how I decided to paint them, just with a brush. This will allow color variations, that are needed in this case, since the building is very old

In the region I live in, Piedmont, in Northern Italy bricks were widely used, as this red clay was available locally. Even the first Italian Parliament had its siege in a beautiful Palace, Palazzo Carignano, which is now a touristic attraction. It is entirely built in red bricks, composed in interesting baroque design


 For more informations, you can research Filippo Juvarra, who was the most trusted architect of the Italian Royals

Meet Your Teacher

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Maria Giulia Escard

Practicing Exploring Sharing


Hi, my name is Maria Giulia, I am based in Italy. I’ve been a creative since a child. Loved working with paper, knitting, drawing, upholstering, embroidery... I lived in different countries trying to catch the beauty of each of them, but the most enriching experience was my 8 years stay in India, in New Delhi. There I've discovered what is a constant practice of art, with an ongoing internship in ceramics and pottery in a wonderful studio, with an engaging teacher.

From there, I discovered painting.

Watercolor is magic. It has its own soul and behavior, a master of resilience and adjustment. Accidents and mistakes become the chance for new discoveries.

It has become a meditative daily practice. I mostly post on my Instagram profile... Check it out if ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: I am MariaGiulia Escard, I am a watercolor artist, Italian. I am based in Torino, Turin. I particularly love urban sketching and I like to walk, especially in my neighborhood, which I love and seeking for spots that can be painted. In this class, I will be teaching how to paint a building which is very close to my place, which was originally a barn. I think it has been turned into a restaurant. This is me walking my dog. In the morning. I am on the river bank of my town. Turning up. The Po river is a beautiful big river. So this is my neighborhood. And thes is the building, I'm sorry, Here is my dog, Nala, my girl, trying to find new friends But she's not very successful. The building is a brick building. The bricks give a really rustic tastes. We are going to paint this building with watercolor, which is my preferred medium. I hope you will enjoy the class and join me for in the next lesson for the materials. 2. Materials: Materials are very basic. I am using a palette detail, really love. And I had been using it for a long time. Now. They are in White Nights. The coming-to-be such as these, and I squeeze them. My Paneth cell, it is a very long-lasting palette. And when the colors are finished against quiz them back because the tubes contain a good amount of color. If you don't have such a big palette, I can recommend that you buy for starting Winsor and Newton, starting palette is a travel palette. It contains also the small brush, so and all the basic colors that again needed for any project. You can then learn how to mix them. I then use a pencil and eraser. I keep underhand also, some bands white and that some fine liners. I have two of them. One is thicker, one is thinner. It depends also on the US that you want to, to make COVID and the tastes that you like to give to your printing basics are three brushes. One thin, pointed, it's a number to one, the curve, it's a number 20. And I have also a number, a flat brush. I will be using either the thinner or the flat. For the brief, I will show the two techniques. Then you will choose which one they prefer. Water, kitchen better. And all learned for the first sketch, it will help us to, to draw straight lines. Enter the paper. I use watercolor cellulose paper for this project. We don't need a cotton paper since there is not very much wet on wet technique and this paper is sufficient. The requirement for our project is that the paper is DKA enough to hold some water. So the thickness minimum isn't 300 grams per square meter. It's normally marked on the cover of the block that you have here you'll find the thickness. The size I've used is a four. And I normally stick it on tools such as this, which I have used for many times. It's helping to keep the paper straight and flat and not to work. I think we are ready with all the materials. I sorry, I forgot to mention that sometimes I use a spray spray bottle for spring some water on the colors so it will help me to revitalize it. It's fine, Don't try. So now that we are really set with the materials, we can see each other in the next lesson for the pencil sketch. 3. Pencil Sketch: I am gone through some lines that are going to be referenced for me. So one horizontal line at about this height to mark the end of the grass and the beginning of the wall. Here we have vertical line here. The Israel to be neighboring house. Here. We draw one horizontal line, which is going to be the roof, and one parallel here. This is sort of a gut that is all along the wall. Behind here we have another far building. So it's going to be drawn like this. And we will see how to indicate the disease. Distant building. So here we have our main building. We are going just for reference to mark one line here, which is going to be the top part of the fourth arches that are composing our painting. And this space, we are going to be dv. We're going to divide it in four almost exact squares. We can also make this other line that is going to be the end of the arches. So we start from the center top of this, this section, and we go like this. And the other side we go like this. These are composed by bricks. So for example, we are going to draw this Greek in this brief deal with Central. This is just for reference right now as we are. I'm going to draw them directly with our brushes. And here we have a change and the bricks are going to be vertical. So this section has its own bricks, and this other section has its own bricks. Now, in this section we can draw a small window. In this section we are going to have a big window. Here. We are going to have the door on this side starting about here. And here we have again two row of parallel bricks. And in this side, we also going to draw the window. There is going to be a lot of IV going here. Now we have another line. For this far building. We can control some windows that we can see. They are going to be very smaller. So this will tell us that the building is higher but distant. Balcony. I would like to make maybe one window that we see partially the curve. So this again will indicate more the different levels of these two buildings and a door. We can also draw the tree top of this tree. The sketch is complete. I'll see you in next lesson for the wash. 4. First wash: I am going to give a first wash to the sky. We can also go over that changed since sometimes so we can see the sky through the leaves. I'm going to use a settled and blue. I'm just doing this light watch for these towards cyan going to use yet at all or curve the careful not to cover the Windows. They can also give some touches of darker color to indicate the time that has passed. And this building also going to be yellow curve. I have left this part whiter. It will be in the shadow. We will paint some dark color to indicate the shadow that is created from the roof. And here I just wash. The first wash of gray mix to red brick, red color. Very light will change the Greeks later. Diluting it with water, drops or read also. It needs to be an irregular color, leaving this part here, which is the window. The very easily going all over. What will be brief. Here. We have these concrete or stone wall. This is my Payne's gray. I miss my preferred gray. It's it has a bluish tone inside. So since we don't want all the grace the same, we can mix it with some green to paint the stone. So we can paint does. So again, we take a gray. And the last third will give some wash with the big brush to the grass and to the tree. So we are going to take the light green. And I can start this color here randomly. Even a bit on the wall since the grass is not being kept recently. What I am using is die and dry on dry technique. I like it. For this kind of painting. Grass is never regular. We are going to go over it with another color or the color more. Again, with the same technique. That allows also some white. Tell us about the light that it's the grass for the tree. We are using a different technique. We're just going to drop saturated color here. I'm starting with a light green more consistently in this side, because I want to indicate the shadow on this side here less. And with the darker green here. Costing consistently, starting from the shadow part and going over some shadow will be focused on some leaves in this side also. But then we will define better these three later. The first wash is done. I see you in next lesson further details. 5. The Bricks: For the breaks, you can either use the flat brush, ladies, or even a normal one. We will use both of them. I will use both of them so that you can see, choose which technique you like more. So we start with our grant here where we have said there are Greeks and maybe we start from here with the flat brush. And here we go down along the lines. Okay, now I'm switching to the other brush so you can see how I can do the same. Greek. You can also like this. So here comes some vertical one. And in the UK, for this war, we are doing the same song. But they are. To begin traditional. I am going to speed the video. I leave, I will live here one part with just these gray base, since in the reference photo there are some reparation that have gone on with the concrete. Even though I have gone to draw IV, that covers the word, I will still draw all the paint, all the breaks. So if there is some space between the leaves of the tree still appear as dark as it is. Here. I am leaving this irregular line of concrete and we can see in the picture. And so I'm drawing less bricks here. Hi. Since I don't have a smaller flat brush, I'm using the pointy one for the detailing of some of the bricks that are too small. Irregularities are welcome access. So these bricks are very old and damaged by the way there, by the time pass, the bricks are done. I'll see you in next lesson for the doors and windows. 6. Roofs and Windows: I will drop lines that go not very regular, such as dS. To start that give the idea of how these ties applied. Baltimore called also there is also a horizontal line on the roof top. So here still irregular since it's made of superposed tiles like this. And also here at the end, there is they end up in an irregular sort of wavy design. The white spaces that doesn't relate to, we are going to partially covered them with gray. And now with the saturated red still the brick credit. We are going to do this Waves. I'm taking a green that I like. Maybe this emerald green mixing with some blue to make it darker. And I'm taking a blue, a darker blue, turquoise blue, mixing it with a gray. And I am going to paint all these small squares that compose the window here. We are going to define them later with the fine liner or ink pen or something. So don't focus too much about where the perfect square. It's not important in this stage. For your and, and I will paint black on this one. This window has this square root. This is going to be a dark gray. Now with a fine brush, we are going to add some details here, some perspective. And we are going to draw to paint this door and window. So pretending we are sending here, this is a front view of perspective. So not much to detail, but we are going to detail these inside of this window. We are sunny here, so here we just see very straight. But this side we are going to see with just defining the shadow. And here also we can guess the inside of this window. And here also this window and this dough we can paint in dark green. And this window also closed. This stage is completely So I see you in the next lesson. 7. Last Details and Shadows: Hi, I'm creating a dark gray. I am going to give a little bit of a regular line here that I will then Blend. And taking some clear water on my brush and blend this shadow. Here we have close so we can see the shadow, but this shadow is elongating here and paint also some shadows here since we are lower. So we don't see shadow in this side. Because of the protective, but down from down, we can see this inside of the door and maybe some also line here. We can define better this window, again with the red here. Little bit to give depth to the Greeks. Here. Now this is a panel where DO name of the restaurant is written. So we are going to paint it it dark blue. And don't door. We can you can give it any color to it. We can still do it the same blue. Now, we have to work on the trees and all these IV. So I am going to give a wash here where I left the white space. I am going to use this light yellowish green to give, to give a base. Now, I'll start that. We got really lucky. You'll get the idea. But what they do normally with the back of the brush, I create this branches that can go a little. Brenda Lee is I read us. Also with the brush, brush, quite dry, we can elongate these branches and give some more touches of dark green here. And we can go on till we are satisfied with. We are going to get also some darker touches here on the three, which is in the backyard. Now. Two things small. One, I want to define better the shadow cast on the world by this gutter. So I take a quite condensates it, gray, put it in my palette to a spreadsheet of it. And then I just try to be quite precise. You can give this restaurant in a name. You can write it with the white gel pen, such as this. I have this metallic marker. This restaurant, I will call it AB. So it's easy to write. Even though I have a big need. Use my fine liner. And you go on this contour newsletters. Otherwise they're not so easy. I take advantage of having these fine liner in my hand. I can give this door some personality with daily living, this kind of squarish and lock. I define. Here is totally optional if you like to leave it as it is. It's okay. I prefer to give some definition to this painting since these are a square wave, not very precise. So I can, and even infants New London. And a lot is lying below the door needs. We cannot give us some randomness to this section, but leave lighter part here and paint darker the below side. When he complete. So I'll see you in the left half or the pineapple. 8. Final thoughts: I just realized the video was cut and didn't show how shadows are cast upon to the brick wall by the neighboring building. And how I drew the balcony on the backside the building. So I'm adding a short video now to show it. Congratulations on finishing your class. I hope you enjoyed our project and ended up with a nice painting. And that reminds you about my city. I hope you have learned some new things and enjoyed my techniques and I hope my instructions were clear enough. I encourage you to share your project in the project gallery under the class. And I will anyway, have a check on your painting just to share with you some considerations. I am on Instagram also. You can find me under mariagiulia.escard And there I post also a lot of painting that I do. You can have a look at my work by.