Travel Sketching in New York with One-Point Perspective | Amy Stewart | Skillshare

Travel Sketching in New York with One-Point Perspective

Amy Stewart, Writer & artist

Travel Sketching in New York with One-Point Perspective

Amy Stewart, Writer & artist

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11 Lessons (1h 2m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Project & Supplies

    • 3. What is One Point Perspective?

    • 4. Find the Horizon & Vanishing Point

    • 5. Choose Your Own Horizon

    • 6. Applying Perspective to New York

    • 7. Pencil

    • 8. Pen

    • 9. Watercolor

    • 10. 3 minute bonus sketch

    • 11. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Do you love New York? So do I! It's my favorite spot for urban sketching, travel sketching, and kind of exploring and art-making.

In this class, we’re going to focus on the one skill you really need to paint a city like New York: Perspective.

We’ll use Manhattan for our laboratory to look at the fundamentals of perspective.

We’ll work out how to identify your horizon line and your vanishing point.

We’ll see how all the lines in an image converge to that vanishing point.

We’ll start a drawing by putting down some perspective lines to help guide us.

And then, with those guidelines in place, I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can create an accurate drawing.

When you get this piece right, you can be really free and loose with your drawing and painting.

This is easy to learn and fun to practice. Join me!

Meet Your Teacher

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Amy Stewart

Writer & artist



Welcome! For the last twenty years, I've devoted my life to making art and writing books. It gives me great joy to share what I've learned with you. 

I love talking to writers and artists, and bonding over the creative process. I started teaching so that I can  inspire others to take the leap. 

I believe that drawing, painting, and writing are all teachable skills. Forget about talent--it doesn't exist, and you don't need it. With some quality instruction and lots of practice, any of us can make meaningful, honest, and unique art and literature.

I'm the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books. When I'm not writing or traveling on book tour, I'm painting and drawing in ink, watercolor, gouache, and oil. Come f... See full profile

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1. Introduction: << Hi, I'm Amy Stewart. I'm a writer and an artist. New York is one of my favorite cities in the world. I think I've done more paintings to New York City than anywhere else. Every time I go, I fill up a sketchbook, I take 100 of pictures like these and I work from home when I get home and you know what I love the most are these shots looking right down the middle of one of New York's busy avenues. Now, New York City is fairly flat and the streets are pretty straight, that means that it's the perfect place to study simple one-point perspective and really get it right. So in this class we're going to focus on the one skill you really need to paint a city like New York, and that is perspective. We're going to use Manhattan as our laboratory and look at the fundamentals of perspective. We'll work out how to identify your horizon line and your vanishing point. We'll see how all the lines in an image like this converge to that vanishing point. We'll start a drawing by laying down some perspective lines to help guide us and then, once those guidelines are in place, I think you'll be surprised at how quickly you can create an accurate drawing. If you can get this piece right, you can be really free and loose with your drawing and painting. Just by nailing the perspective and making sure all those major shapes are in the right place. You're then going to be able to set yourself free and you can be imaginative and playful with everything that comes after that. This is easy to learn and it's fun to practice so let's get going. 2. Project & Supplies: I'm going to give you my photo of New York to work from. But, I hope you'll also work from your own images. So go around in your neighborhood and find a spot where you can really see this one-point perspective at work and post those drawings. I'd love to see him put him in the project area. Let me know if you have questions as you go. But either way, I'd really love to see what you're working on. I'm sure everybody else in the class would also. So do that. Let's look at supplies. For this class, you are definitely going to need a pencil and an eraser. We're going to be doing a lot of erasing. So I use a knead-able gum eraser, and a mechanical pencil. We'll use some kind of drawing pin. Honestly, it doesn't so much matter what you use. I'm just going to be using a regular waterproof pigment liner, like a five or an eight, if you want a finer point, maybe a two or three would be fine. But really anything as long as it's waterproof, we're going to be putting water color on top of it. You'll need some kind of a ruler as well. This is a T-square, it's clear. These are super handy. For paper, I'm going to be using a watercolor block. I usually work on hot press because I just like the way ink moves across hot press. But it could be a hot press or cold press or maybe you just have a sketch book like this one with watercolor paper in it, that would be great. Then for watercolor, I'll be working out of my travel watercolor set and I'll post a list of colors, that I'm going to be using in the supplies, but this is going to be very basic, very simple. So probably whatever you already have is going to work. In terms of brushes, I'm going to use a flat brush this time. I think there are kind of fun and they're sort of good for buildings but if you don't have one of these, then just a regular round brush. This is 10. And sometimes I'll get in and do a little more detail with a finer tip. This happens to be just one of these water brushes. By the way, if you're not into water color, but you just want to learn the perspective, go right ahead. You could take this just as a drawing class and either skip the color or you could do the color in some other medium if you want to, you know, colored pencil or washer or whatever. I would love to see that. Okay? That's it for supplies. Let's get going. 3. What is One Point Perspective?: Explain to you what I mean by one-point perspective, which is what we're going to study in this class. The classic example is right here. It's a railroad track and some telephone poles going off into the distance. There's all these diagonal lines and they're all converging to a single point, off in the distance. That's why we call it one-point perspective. And this is what you see in cityscapes a lot, which is what we're going to focus on today. So a scene like this, it's just like those railroad tracks, everything, all these diagonal lines, they're all converging to that single point off in the distance. So when you're using the ideas from this class and you're going out and about and looking for things to draw, it's a scene like this that will be applicable to what you've learned in this class. It's also important to point out, that one-point perspective works best when everything's flat, pretty level. So for instance, if you're looking at a scene where the road is winding and maybe there's also a slope like it's going downhill or going uphill, you'll notice pretty quickly that a lot of these rules or perspective get out of whack. And you're really just going to have to measure with your eye, because the concepts we're going to study in this class aren't going to help you as much. So we're looking for an image like this, where you're looking in straight down the street. Everything's pretty level and pretty flat. That is called one-point perspective. So you might be thinking, well, if there's one-point perspective, is there two-point perspective? Yes, there's a lot more you can learn about perspective. So here's an example of what we mean by two-point perspective. If you're looking at this building on a corner, there are all these diagonal lines that are disappearing to points in the distance that we can't even see in this photograph. But this is what we call two-point perspective. And you also do see this in interiors, so in the inside of this room. We also have diagonal lines that are headed off in some other direction, outside of the view of this photograph. Both of those are examples are two-point perspective. We're not going to work on this today, but there is a lot more that you can learn and explore with perspective. But anyway, we're going to focus on one-point perspective and let's get going on it. 4. Find the Horizon & Vanishing Point: Before we start drawing New York, we're going to use a much simpler photo to look at a couple of basic ideas about perspective. This is my husband who very nicely volunteer to pose for this little lesson. The first thing you need to know about perspective is how to find the horizon line. Artists talk about this idea of a horizon line, but really what we mean is the horizontal line. Do you see how the boards in this building and really everything, the window everything? Do you see the different angles as we look around the side of this image? We're looking for the horizontal line, which happens to be right about here. Now, this horizontal line, also called the horizon line by artists, is our eye level, meaning you, the viewer. It's not the horizon in the sense of the place where the sky meets the earth. The horizon line is always relative to wherever you, the viewer happened to be standing. I'm standing up and I'm looking straight ahead and here's my husband walking away. You can see from the lines and the building, I don't actually have a perfectly straight line, but this is roughly where the horizontal line happens to fall. Remember that often the horizon line will be where you see the earth meet the sky, like at the end of the street. But it doesn't have to be. I mean, we can't see that in this picture, but we still confine that horizontal line that these diagonals are converging to. That's what we call our horizon line. We don't know where the horizon is in the sense of the sky and meeting the Earth. In this picture, there's a fence there, there's other stuff beyond that. So we have no idea where that is, but we can find this horizontal line. I keep wanting to correct it a little bit. I don't quite have the perfect horizontal in this picture, but it's pretty close. Okay? The first thing we're going to do when we get started drawing is we're going to establish where's our horizon line. It's right in here somewhere. The second thing is, where's our vanishing point? So the vanishing point is wherever I am as the viewer looking straight ahead, at my eye level, that's the vanishing point. Let me just show you what I mean. If we take this point, it is the point at which all of these lines converged. I'm going to do this slowly so that I can be sure to really line everything up and illustrate it to you. Here is the bottom of the window. Here's where it starts to angle up just a tiny bit, just barely above that horizon line or that horizontal line. You can see it right here along the top of the window, you can even see it here along the covering, you can see it down here along the walkway and you see how that lines up with these boards in the little roof overhang. Here's one along the edge of the walkway. You see how that lines up also with all of these lines. So all of these lines are converging to one point and that point is the vanishing point. Now, I just want to really emphasize that this is the point that I am looking directly at. So if someone was standing behind me taking a picture of me taking this picture, here's me in this scene, like here's my head and here's my shoulders, like I'm standing right here, right? That's me. All of these lines are converging towards this one spot. So these are the two concepts that we're really going to focus on in this class is identifying that horizon line and identifying the vanishing point and understanding that everything goes towards that vanishing point. There's also, in addition to this horizon line, there is also a vertical line and you can see it. Fortunately, this little roof up above here has some lines in it. You can see it there. It also goes right through the vanishing point. If this sidewalk happened to have a seam in it, in the middle, then you would also see it going straight there. So knowing where that is and knowing where that is, is really helpful when you're starting a drawing and you're doing it in perspective. Now, there's a cool trick once you've figured this out. This is the perfect example to show to you. We're going get to practice this a little bit when we do our drawing of New York City, but I just wanna make it really obvious here. That is, if you as the viewer, the artist, if you're standing up and you're looking directly at the scene, this one-point perspective scene, your head is level with, in this case, my husband's head, right.? Wherever he happens to be along this walkway, his head is always going to be along this horizon line. Now if you've never studied perspective before, that sounds crazy and you might be thinking, how is that even possible? I'm going to show you. I had him move and stand in a different spot. Once again, I'm going to line this up kind of the best I can to sort of try to locate my horizon line here where it's perfectly straight and it's here. It just so happens my husband's a little taller than me, so my eye level is right about at the back of his neck. Okay. There he is, close up along the horizon line is feet away down here, top of his head is there. If you look at this picture, he's in the same location along the horizon line here. His head's there, his feet are there. So this is a neat trick for when you're adding people into your drawing. Assuming you're standing up, and you're looking at other people who are standing up and it's a level space, people aren't going up and down hills. Then everyone you see their heads are pretty much going to be on the horizon line and it doesn't matter how close or how far away they are. They're all going to go like that. It can really help you position people in your drawings. If you know this rule. Now, let's say, 'm going to give you another examples just so you can just kind of think this through. Let's say that you happen to be sitting down like maybe you're in a sidewalk cafe and you're looking out over a plaza. You're sitting down, you're eye level is just about at everyone's waist or everyone's hips because you're sitting. So you have changed the horizon line by sitting. Remember the horizon lines is always very specific to you. In your case, if you're sitting, then that means that everybody's figures are going to line up along the waistline. Again, it doesn't matter how close or how far away they are. It's always going to line up more or less along their waste. Now of course, some people, there's minor variations in height. Children don't often conform to this rule very well. If there's any kind of slope in your scene, it can throw this off. But assuming a nice flat seen like what we're going to do today or like what this picture is. You can follow this rule and you can reliably count on the fact that if you've got your horizon line accurate, that you know where your figures belong along those lines and it'll help your people look not like they're floating in space, but they're actually walking down the sidewalk or whatever it is that you want them to do. Horizon line, vanishing point, where people go. Now let's take a look at what this can look like in practice. 5. Choose Your Own Horizon: The second thing I want you to understand about perspective and about horizon lines is that you, as the artist, you have a choice about where you put your horizon line in your drawing or your painting. So here's an example of a cityscape. This happens to be New Orleans, not New York, but it'll work. You can see that the horizon line, it's fizzy yellow bar. If you look around the left and the right and you look at those diagonal lines, you can see that this is the place where those diagonal lines become just about straight. It also happens to be the place where the earth meets this guy. But like I say, it doesn't always have to look that way. You can see that the horizon line is, I would say about a third of the way up the image and that the bottom third of the image is really nothing but pavement. You might look at that and decide that's just not that interesting to me. I don't really think that's what this drawing is about. So you could choose to put it somewhere else. This works whether you're working from a photograph and you're deciding how to crop it or when you're in the scene and drawing from life, you get to pick where it goes. Here's another version of this same photo. I just cropped it differently and I have a lot more of the tall buildings and I have very little of the pavement. That's a choice that you can make as an artist. In fact, it's the first decision to make. When you get started drawing a scene like this, I just want to give you a couple more examples. Here's a New York scene. This is exactly the kind of thing I love to paint all the time. I'm crossing the street and I'm taking pictures as I walk across the street with the stoplight, of course, very safely. I have to work from photographs because I can't very well stand in the middle of Broadway drawing a picture. In this case, the horizon line is quite low to the ground. I mean, it's my eye level and it's quite low to the ground. I've chosen to mostly emphasize the height of the buildings and the sky. With cityscapes, sometimes you want to make a choice, like do you want to see a lot of sky? Or do you want to see a lot of pavement? But you probably don't want like equal amounts of both. So in this case, I'm really emphasizing this guy and I'm emphasizing the heights of the buildings. I've kept the horizon line down really low. But may be. Now personally, I don't think this is that interesting picture, but let's say just may be that you think what's most interesting about this image is all the stuff that's happening at ground level. That's really what you want to look at. The height of the buildings and the sense of skyscrapers looming overhead is not all that interesting. Well, you can choose to crop your picture differently so that you've got a horizon line that's almost in the middle of your image. Putting it right in the middle is often kind of the least interesting place to put it. But my point is you can put it anywhere you want. It's adjusted decision about what to leave in and what to leave out. I'll give you one more example of this. Here's a picture of some folks walking along a beautiful kind of tree-lined street. Again, you can see where the horizon line is and you can kind of tell. First of all, their heads are all lining up. Very convenient. But also, if you look at the diagonals on the left, you can see that the awnings are sloping a little tiny bit up and the tables and chairs are slipping a little tiny bit down. That center lines right in between them. There's my horizon line. It's almost right in the middle of the picture. I went ahead this time and put the vertical line in two, because having these paving stones on the ground, it's just so handy because you really can see exactly where that center line is, and that tells you right where your vanishing point is. So that's kind of cool to have it that way. But maybe you look at this and you go, wow. If I put my horizon line there, pretty much the whole almost bottom half of this picture is nothing but pavement, and it's just this big white-space. Now some people might love that, like having this big calm, neutral area in their painting or in their drawing. But other people might look at that and go, that is not an all. What's interesting to me about this image. It's something else. It's really the people. You could crop it in a completely different way. Notice that the horizon line hasn't moved in terms of where it isn't a picture. It's still right where everyone's head is, but I've lowered it in my composition. So in my composition now the horizon lines quite a bit lower. You can still see that vertical line. You can see where that is. Now, rather than having the bottom half of the painting almost be entirely pavement. Now there's just very little pavement at the bottom. What you really get a lot of as you get the trees and the flowers and the buildings. It's much more of a picture about, maybe people being out for a weekend straw. So the takeaway here is that you have a choice about where you place your horizon line. All right. Now that we've worked all that out, I'm going to show you that picture that we're going to draw today. Let's talk about where that horizon line goes, and where that vanishing point is so that we can draw it. 6. Applying Perspective to New York: Here's the photograph in New York that we're going to work from. I hope that from what you've seen already, you recognize some of these elements. Now, in this case, you can't see where the Earth meets the sky because there's a bus in the way. It is New York after all. But you can probably guess about where that is. We can also try to judge it by thinking about eye level. I'm standing taking this picture and these people's heads pretty much all line up right around there. That's a pretty good guess about where my horizon line belongs. But I can also just look at all of these diagonals and just ask myself, hold on, let me just get this position just right so you can really see. I can just ask myself, where is the straight line? Like do you see what's happening? Do you see how these diagonals are all lining up? Like there's the diagonal of the windows along this building and there's the diagonal of the markings on the street. The straight line, even though I can't quite see it in this image, I mean, there's a lot of trees that are in the way of the windows and doors along here, so I can't see any features of the building that become straight. Sometimes you'll be able to see that, sometimes you won't, when we were working with my example of my husband here, I picked this because you have so many lines that are clearly visible to you. It's pretty easy to find the straight one or the one that's as close to a straight as we're going to get in this case. But here, you really just can't quite see it. But I know it's here because I can see that this is the point where these angles start to converge and the fact that everyone's heads are lined up, I'm standing and they're standing, that also gives me a pretty good idea. In fact, our horizon line in this image really is pretty close to where the Earth meets the sky. I mean, if you were to look way down there at the end, you would see that. In New York you might very often have buildings in the way down there as well, but we don't have to worry about that this time, we're going to figure that out just with what we know. Then once we know that, it's also very easy to figure out the vanishing point. I can just play around with my ruler and I can just find it. It's that point where if I pivot off of it, all of these things line up. If I pivot off of it, see here everything's lining up. But also, let me pull this drawing back. Do you remember here that we were really able to nail down the vanishing point by finding this line as well. That helps us to pinpoint it too, again, we don't have a line in the street that's in the exact right place, but if you sort of go, well, there's this line and there's that line. Oops, sorry I want you to be able to see what I'm doing here. There's this line and then there's this line over here, somewhere in the middle there is where a line would be straight if there happened to be another line painted on this pavement, it would be straight. We know that's our vanishing point. I'm going to go ahead and mark that from top to bottom. Once we know that, then how I'm going to approach this drawing, you'll see me do this in just a minute, but this is just to prepare you and you might want to print this out and do the exact same thing. What I'm going to do when I get started on this drawing, is the first thing I'm going to do is draw my horizon line, and figure out my vanishing point and give myself a little dot right there. That's how I always start these drawings. That's the first thing to go down on a blank sheet of paper. But then the thing I do is without looking too closely at all the angles and everything that's happening here, is I just start giving myself some diagonals. I don't worry about what they line up with necessarily in this picture. I just start drawing a bunch of them in, and they're just guidelines that I'm going to be able to use. I'm trying to talk and do this at the same time, and I really want to make sure I get this accurate so this makes sense to you. I don't know exactly what I'm going to need these diagonals for, I don't know what in particular they line up with in my drawing. I'm just giving them to myself as guidance. I did those at random, I wasn't really paying attention to how they line up with the drawing, but you can see that in fact, a bunch of them do. For instance, this one right here, there are some roof lines that angle down right there. This roof line isn't along that diagonal, but you can see how it's just like it's a little off, it's moving towards being a little bit flatter. It's helpful to have that. Some of these window ledges lineup quite well. There's a line in the windows that lines up pretty well. I can see a little one down here. Do you see how this works? This roof line isn't quite on that diagonal, so the angle of it is going to be a little bit off. But just having this there is super helpful. Here's another one where I can see this window ledge. It's pretty close to this diagonal that I drew, and down here along the street, I also have some of these, so I didn't draw a diagonal that exactly matches up with these markings on the street, but I do like to include these markings when I can, so I know about what the angles going to be because it's got to be somewhere between this one and this one. Same thing over here. I didn't give myself a line exactly right here, because I was doing them kind of randomly. But I gave myself that one and that one. This one has to be kind of in-between. By putting all these lines in first, I'm just giving myself something to work on. I can in fact see architectural elements that match up with this. A couple other really important things about this scene that you can see when you do this, and we'll work on this when we get into it is, one is, if you happen to have a tree-lined streets, the trees follow that perspective line. Now, of course, it might not be perfect because trees are going to do what trees want to do, and some will be taller or shorter than others. There's only one tree here in the foreground and it's kind of here. But if there were more trees, we could sort of expect to see them go on like that. Everything fits with this, even trees and also by the way, even things like, I don't see a lot of street light type things, streetlights and traffic lights there's just a couple, but even those would, so there's a traffic light right here and there's one right here. Boom, there's my diagonal. I can see a street light up here. I can't quite see the next one, but I can see the pole that this traffic light is on, and the tops of those poles also, they line up. There's one there, there's one there. Those elements will also follow these perspective lines. The final thing I want to point out, and this is why I chose this particular picture is because it illustrates as many of these ideas in one picture as I could really get. The last thing I want to point out is this thing about people. We do have some nice examples of this, so here's this guy. Here's his head, his head is there, his feet are there. He's here walking across the street, this guy's on the other side of the street, his head lines up, his feet are just shorter. This guy, he looks like he's kind of jaywalking. He's not even in the intersection. He's here and his feet are there. We have that guy's feet, that guy's feet and that guy's feet, but their heads all line up. This woman, her head is a little bit below the line I made. This is what I mean about not everyone's exactly the same height, and sometimes people are bending over, or children or proportion to little differently. Not everyone is going to follow this perfectly. But honestly, if you're getting a little lost and confused about where people ought to go, just put them on this line and it'll look really good to the viewer. It'll really make sense. All right. I hope that's helpful. This is all the stuff we're going to be working on when we do our drawing, so it is time to get started on that. 7. Pencil: The first thing I'm going to do with this drawing is just mark the center points along the horizontal and vertical lines. This has nothing to do with perspective, it's just the way I start all my drawing so I can have some idea of where to place things within the drawing. We've already spent so much time looking at this photo that I basically know where the horizon line is, but this is how I work this stuff out, exactly what you see me doing where I'm just using my pen as a gauge. I don't always use a ruler, I'm using a ruler right now because I think it's a good way to get started, when you're just getting going and learning about perspective. It's handy to have a ruler and to really be able to make sure you get exactly really good straight lines off of this vanishing point that you want. But you can see that I'm putting these in without a lot of regard to what's in the drawing specifically. So these are just general guidelines that I know are going to help me once I get going. I'm just going to establish those and then basically I'm just going to work left to right. I'm looking at the diagonals that I already have in place and then just double checking all my angles as I go. Now you can make your vertical lines with a straight edge like I just did there. I don't usually, but I'll show you in a minute one way you can do that. Usually, I will just make sure I've got those diagonals right. I'm always rechecking how things are moving toward the vanishing point, but then I'll just hand draw in the verticals. Sometimes I'll come in and clean those up later and that's what you're going to see me do that here. I'm watching how these shapes fit in next to one another, but also really just trying to follow the angle of everything moving down toward the vanishing point. The reason that I wanted to also know where the center line of the image is, is because I want to have an idea of how far I can go from the edge of the paper into the middle before I need to be working on the other side of this. So that's what I'm checking against as I go here. By the way, I've spend this up to double time. I spent forever doing this because I wanted to really make sure that you could see every single stage in the process. It might not normally take me quite this long but you can see that I'm remeasuring every little thing and I would encourage you to do the same. If this is new for you and you're just getting started with it, then definitely investing your time in the pencil drawing, you will see that the rest of it can go a lot quicker. As I'm over on the other side of the street now, I'm looking at, where does this building line up with the buildings across the street? I'm double checking that as I go as well and just trying to get the tallest buildings around the edge. You can see that I'm doing this here, the tallest buildings around the edge and then looking at what on the other side of the street lines up with that and just trying to get those in. Let me point out to you that I cannot see exactly where these buildings hit the ground because there's trees and cars in the way. So I can guess, like I have a general idea of where the sidewalk probably is and I'm sketching that in now and it's really just my idea of where the sidewalk might go. But I can't see it, so I don't really need to draw it, but just as you're seeing this come together and you're seeing it look a little bit more like a street, you might be wondering about that. Now here's where I might come in at the end. After I've done all this, I might come in and just make some bolder lines that really makes sure those verticals are vertical. The nice thing about perspective is you've got a lot to think about but one thing is that for the most part your verticals are vertical, there actually is a tiny bit of leaning that happens with skyscrapers but we're not going to worry about that. So straight up and down lines can just be straight up and down. I don't need to put in a ton of detail in terms of windows. My one piece of advice for you when you're drawing busy cityscapes type streets like this, is don't count windows. Don't get hung up on all those six windows in this building and only four in that one. You can see I'm putting the trees in and how the trees follow that perspective line. I'm just making a little mark about where those go and making sure that I know which buildings are covered up by the trees. So I'm constantly checking with my photo and thinking about which buildings have trees in front of them and which ones don't as I'm going along there. This is really just about kind of looking at any other little details that I want to draw in with pencil. Now, a lot of times when I'm sketching a city like this I won't do a lot of pencil detail, I will just do what I call containers, basic containers that shapes fit in and then I'll do the rest in pen. But because we're wanting to really focus on perspective and really get this right, it makes sense to do all the work in pencil and then the ink will go a lot faster as a result of that. I'm marking in where I think I might indicate some windows literally just with a line. I'm also looking at what I guess I would call window ledges. There's probably a more architectural term for that, but where you can see that one story begins and another story ends, you can see that I'm just marking those with little lines. By having enough of those in that picture, you do get that sense that you are looking toward the horizon line. I don't want every single building to have the exact same line work on it in terms of windows, so I want there to be some variety. I also want to remember that it's good to have a lot of detail in the foreground, meaning the buildings that you're closest to. But as your receding off in the distance, you can hardly see anything about those buildings and even less so in real life, one of the downsides of a digital camera is it's very good at capturing far away details, it's even better than our eyes are. So realistically, you're not going to see anything way off in the distance and you want to be sure to let those details just fade away as you go back in space. These buildings in the foreground have some grill work over the building or anyway very narrow little line so I'm just indicating that. Looking at what I want to put in this building in the foreground has a complicated facade that I'm not really going to worry about, because even though we're really close to it and we're really in the foreground, it's also around the edges of the picture and so it's not the first thing people will look at. I'm going to get these traffic lights in. Sometimes I will even draw in extra traffic lights where I don't see them because I liked the way they reinforce the sense of depth and the sense of moving down the street. So I'll get those in. Then I'm starting to look more at what is happening at the level of the street. So I want to make sure that those markings on the street that I don't lose those because those really also help draw the eye in. Sometimes even when I don't have them or I can't see them, I'll add them in any way. It's perfectly fine to do that. I'm just looking to start placing these cars. Now, we could do a whole class on cars. Cars are nothing but rectangles with usually another rectangle on top of them, and if you can remember that, then they're a little bit less intimidating. Of course, they are these rectangular shapes that have perspective working for them as well. But I'm just going to be loose with them, I'm not going to do every single car, but I am going to try to get these shapes in where they go. This one over here, it's like it takes up surprisingly more room in the image than you might think it would. But this is one thing that's helpful about establishing the lane markings in the street is it really does help you then place the cars where the cars need to go because otherwise it's very easy to get lost and get a little confused about exactly where those go. This is a lot of fussy little detail and I will tell you that very often in a scene like this, I might leave cars out entirely or I might only put one car in and leave the rest out. It really just depends on how much time you have and what it is that really interests you about the scene. What I love about these is that it's yellow taxi cab, so it's very New York. So I'm super tempted to just go ahead and put them all in. So I'm going to work on those, there's another one over to the side here. Another thing is a lot of times with it if I'm working from a photograph like this and there's things that are halfway out of the frame, I'll just leave him out. I tend to like things to be more fully established in the frame. But in this case, again, I'm going to go ahead and put everything in just for the sake of completeness. Another thing about these cars is I'm looking at how they fit relative to each other. So if I get the top of the one car right then I want to know, where are the tops of the other cars relative to that or where's the bottom, like where do the tires fit in? The people, we talked about them earlier, I'm just doing what I was doing when I was drawing on the photograph with a Sharpie. I'm just dropping them in basically along that horizon line. I'm not trying to draw these particular people, I'm just trying to draw a recognizable human beings, which pretty much means like a little circle for the head and torso and a couple diagonal lines to suggest legs. They're so small in this drawing and obviously the point of the drawing is really the city and the buildings, so that's my emphasis. 8. Pen: Because I've done such a detailed pencil drawing, going over it in pen is just like going over it in pen. So I've also sped this up because, I think you're going to quickly get the idea of what I'm doing here. I decided to keep my ink process really simple. Sometimes I'll do two or three different passes with different types of pens. I really enjoy that. In this case, I wanted to keep it simple because I knew that I'd be spending a lot more time and in the pencil stage, so maybe I'd spend less time in the ink stage and I also wanted it to be playful. I think there's something about these pigment liners, which are basically just markers and they feel sort of fun in my hand. In a way, I'm taking it a little less seriously. I want this to be a little bit more of a playful drawing, and I'm not so worried about getting a really refined ink drawing down. I'm just going along, I'm moving from left to right so I don't smear the ink. If you're right-handed like I am, then you should move from left to right, otherwise do it the other way, but this will keep you from getting pencil or ink on your paper as you move around. I am double-checking these angles as I go, because you'll be surprised. This is my second attempt at this, really, because I did it in pencil and now I'm coming along in pen and you see new things every time so don't be too wedded to your pencil drawing if you realize that something was off, that was the whole reason for doing it in pencil in the first place. Definitely use this opportunity to make some changes and also to maybe find ways to give your drawing more details and more character than what you gave it the first time. There will be places in here where I'll look for little bits of texture in some of the architectural features on that building, and find ways to make it look a little bit more unique than just these straight perfunctory lines that I made with pencil because I knew I was going to erase them anyway. Again, I'm not putting in a ton of detail here, I don't want to get so caught up in exactly what these windows are like. For the most part, I'm just putting line down where the windows are. Depending on the scene and how close you the viewer are to some of the buildings,you might get in and do a little more detail like actually draw windows and put trim around them but in this case, these are just big shapes, and I'm just going to treat them that way. Now I've mostly got the buildings in and I'm just going back over them. I know I said move left to right, but this always happens. I'll do a little bit of detail moving left to right, but then I'm moving all over the drawing again. I'm just rechecking all these lines and thinking about putting something in that's just going to suggest these windows, but not too much, not a terrible amount of detail, with the trees, I'm just going to put in some scribbly lines because I know I'm going to come back over and color, and that'll really establish the trees and what they are. With these cars, this is also a good time to reconsider what you did when you drew the cars. If you're going to put them in, then don't feel wedded to what you did with your pencil drawing, really look at it and reconsider it. I always look to make sure I get the little shadow under the tires and also because these are yellow taxi cabs, I want to make sure I get the sign on top of that cab, so that we can really see that they're taxi cabs. This is really in the foreground, so this is a place where I will put a little more detail. I want to see the headlights, I want to see the license plate, I want to have the tires to be pretty distinct and obvious but that those are tires, so just trying to get into those details and keep the cars looking fairly realistic in terms of perspective. I mean, we're looking at them mostly from behind. But in some cases I can see a little bit of the side of the car, so I'm just really watching the angles and trying to give that a sense that it's a 3-D object. I'm not going to go back in, I have a brush pen, like an ink brush pen that I love to use for shadows and darker areas but in this case, I'm not going to go in and do that this time. I'm just going to use my regular pen for all of that. Now, with these people, like I said when I was doing the pencil drawing, I'm not concerned with drawing the specific people that I see walking around. I'm just looking for a recognizable human beings here that is plenty. They're really just these three simple shapes. It's just a head and torso and some legs, and that's basically it and I just wanted to make sure that you can see a few of them off in the distance. I'll get in a few of these little cars that are off in the distance. You can hardly see them, but it does help to give you that sense of a busy city street. I'm getting pretty close to you. There are markings in the street those are really great to have, so I want to be sure that I keep those. I just want to find a few opportunities to darken some things in. Within the trees there's little areas of shadow, and I'm going to put some of those in, just places where I can emphasize the darkest darks. I think it's always nice to have those. I'll get him under the cars, I'll just go around and look at things like the shadows closer to street level, maybe the tires a little bit, and then I just realized that I left one building out entirely. I'll go ahead and put that in. I like this building. It's got these funny little windows going down the side so I will add that in. This is the final stage or I'm just checking all the details and making sure that I'm totally satisfied with everything before I go on to paint and having some darker details that are in the foreground and lower down in the picture like this. It does draw your eye in and it anchors the viewer in the picture and anchors you where you are. I think that really helps visually. It is worth taking a minute to clean up some of these details, add little bits of dark and once we get that done, then we will be ready to erase and to start painting. This is it, here we go. 9. Watercolor: To paint this, I'm going to start with the sky and I'm using a flat brush this time because it's nice for these really tall, straight buildings. I'm putting down a water glaze, which means clear water. I'm putting it down everywhere where the sky is. Then I'm dropping in a mixture of cobalt blue with a little cobalt teal, which adds a tiny touch of green to it. I'm holding the paper at an angle and just working it down towards the horizon line, remembering that the sky tends to get lighter toward the horizon. I know you can't really see a sky color very well in this picture. That's more just, I think the way the camera perceives it but it's there. I'm putting something in. Now, I'm taking Naples yellow, which is a color I love. I use it all the time. I think it's kind of sunshine in a tube. I really love the way it looks in images like this. I think it's great for pavement. You think of pavement as being gray, but you'll see that this will look pretty believable. Once it's all dry, this will look pretty believable as pavement. I did try to leave a little whitespace for those markings in the street. Now, what I'm doing is I'm coming along and I'm putting it over all the buildings and I'm checking with the sky to see if the sky is dry enough because I don't want this color to run up into the sky. But I'm just putting a very light touch of it over all of these buildings. This is going to help unify the painting. My advice for you about painting a complicated scene like this is keep it incredibly simple. The point of it is just being able to watch these buildings disappear down this avenue. You really don't have to get very detailed about the color scheme on the buildings. So keep it simple. I'm coming in, I'm using new gamboge, which is a great color for New York taxi cabs. I'm coming in trying to work in this new gamboge without letting it bleed over into this street which is still a little bit wet. I sped this one up and one of the reasons I sped it up is that there's a little bit of drying time in between. You've got to find things to work on that where there's nothing next to it that will really be wet and the paint will run. You can see a few times where I'm blotting something out with a paper towel because the paint is starting to move a little bit. Okay. There's the taxi cabs. I think it's safe at this point for me to work on the trees a bit. This is just really bright hantsy yellow that I'm dropping into these trees. Now there's not a lot of light hitting the trees on the left, but there's lots of light on the trees in the right. I'm going to take some sap green and I will just drop that tiniest bit of it into these yellow trees and let the green move around on its own and let it create a sense of light hitting the trees. On the other side, however, it's much darker and there's just a little tiny bit of it that's got any light at all. I'm using this very small little brush and I'm almost using it like a drawing pen. Just trying to suggest the shapes of a tree or two or three going down the street and being careful to work around my figures and the little signs on top of the taxi cabs. For the shadows and the buildings. Now that the buildings are dry, I'm coming in with Daniel Smith's shadow violet, which is a color that I use a lot for shadows. I'm just trying to get these, like the ledges and the little shadows that'll fall underneath the ledges along the roof and at every story, underneath the windows. This is a little bit of transparent earth. I'm going to keep the building colors really simple. When you look at this, it's really hard to see any color at all. I know from time in New York that New York buildings really only come in a few colors. There's a off white, kind of gray color. Then there's a bright color that is either this orangey color or a pink color. Then there are some browns. The browns I'm getting by just taking the transparent earth I already had on my palette and grabbing some of that sky color. So as much as possible, I really only want this to have the same four or five colors over and over again. This is a little tiny bit of alizarin, very watered down. The further back you go in space, the less color you can see. I want to emphasize this because part of drawing in perspective is also painting and perspective. What painting and perspective means is that you see a lot of color in the foreground and you see less and less color as you go back. The reason is that the further back you go, the more your perception of color is influenced by the air, meaning just the sky. Everything gets to be more and more sky colored as it recedes, which means it gets bluish-gray. I'm just looking at these buildings and I'm doing a mixture of a little yellow ocher, some transparent earth, this brownish gray color that I've mixed up. Really just trying, oops, I got a little bit of one building bled over into the other, so I'll have to come along later and fix that, but that's okay. Even my tree is not all completely dry as much as I'm trying to. I have a little bit of drying time in here that I cut out but anyway, it'll be fine. You'll see in a minute that a lot of this is going to get covered up in shadow color. All those buildings are off in the distance, I'm basically just using a little richer mixture of my same sky color and I'm not giving them any color at all because you really can't see it. I'm wanting to be very subtle with the color on these buildings as we go further back. This is a little bit of ultramarine just mixed with some shadow violet. I'm just going to mark in these little there's some little windows along there. But again, I don't want anything to really pop out. I don't want anything to be too different from what's already there. This is fellow turquoise, which I love for car windows. In this case the car windows, you don't even quite see those colors in it, but I'm going to just drop that in and then I'll add a little bit of darker shadowy colors for some of the reflections in those windows, but that's a cool color that I love to use and it's fun to use it in the foreground when you really can't add some color. The same thing about color goes with the people. I just dropped in a little blue, a little yellow ocher. It's not like I'm going to go through with each of these people and go. You're going to wear an orange shirt and you're going to wear a green shirt. I want them to be a part of the scene. If you really look at this photograph, definitely the thing you're focusing on is not what color shirt somebody has. I'm basically using the colors that are already on my palette and already in the buildings for things like their shirts. Now that everything is dry, I'm coming in with a little pyrrole red and trying to get a really rich color in the tail lights of the cars and also in the street lights that are going back in the distance. The thing about those tail lights is that that is a color that's actually being emitted from a light source. I do like to really get those in. Those were really pop even off in the distance because they're not as affected by the color of the sky. This is shadow violet and it's a real simple mix of shadow violet with a little of my sky color mixed in. I'm doing these shadows freehand. I'm looking at the image and I'm just dropping them in. I'm being mindful of the fact that as we go back in space, the shadows also get lighter. It's important that the shadow in the foreground be a little bit darker, and that the winds and the background be a little bit lighter. Now, I'm going to take the same shadow color and I'm basically going to drop it over everything that's on the left-hand side of this image because all of these buildings are in shadow and the ones along the right, are in the light. It's nice to be able to emphasize that. Now that things are dry, I'm just going in and darkening up. I'm going to place this where you can see these shadows on this side, meaning the sides of the building is here that aren't being hit as much with the light. But this is if you really look at it, you can see that there's not a lot of variation in color on these buildings. The story is told as much with the line work as anything else. Now I've got a little bit of, oops, that's maybe a little too intense, but a little bit of Daniel Smith neutral tint mixed with some shadow violet. I'm just going along, the back of these cars are in shade they're not as bright as the new gamboge. I'm knocking those back a little bit and just looking for places where I can emphasize these shadows like under the cars, the tires, it's great to be able to get that just right. Since I didn't use a brush pen or anything with ink to really ink in the darkest shadows. That's why I'm doing those now so that people will all have shadows as well there casting shadows. I'm just looking at that and looking at opportunities to put that in and even those cars off in the distance. There's going to be little bits of cast shadow. I'll just come into these windows just a little bit to give a sense of reflections that are possibly happening there within the windows. Now with Daniel Smith neutral tint, I'm just putting some black in these traffic lights and just looking for any place else where I might want a sharper line or a little bit of a darker color. I'm going to just draw in. I didn't exactly paint this, but I'm just going to draw in the poll that that light is hanging from. These are all tiny little details that you have to wait until their dry to do these things. Like I am just saying that I want a tiny little bit of Naples yellow underneath that car. I didn't quite get enough there, so it was bright white and it was obvious to me. Now that this side is dry after I've put the shadow in, I'm just going in and emphasizing a few of these little architectural features. That's it. That's our painting. 10. 3 minute bonus sketch: I decided to give myself a little challenge.This is just sort of a bonus for you and i am going to do this scene in three minutes with no pencil ahead of time, no time to paint just a tiny little drawing to show you how i would do perspective if i am really just having to be freehand with it and pretty quick. So i have worked out the horizon line. It's pretty easy in a scene like this, i think you have figured that out by now and i am just kind of using my hand to draw like imaginary perspective lines as i go down towards my vanishing points. So you can see how every time i have to do a particular angle, i am just double checking it by just kind of lightly passing my pen over the paper a little bit. One cool thing about this scene is that the Woolworth Building is down there in the background. This is Broadway, so it is nice to be able to include a really iconic piece of New York architecture like that. So once again now i am on the other side of it and i am just putting in a few very light diagonal lines that will either be roof lines or they will be windows in a minute or the window sills and just going around the edge and getting these in place.Now the purpose of a quick little sketch like this, of course it is not going to be a masterpiece, but the idea is three-minutes, so maybe you are just waiting for your friend, for the bus to show up, something like that and you have got just a second to try to capture the scene, and this is a really complicated scene to try to capture in three minutes.But by getting that perspective right, even a simple little sketch with a pen like this and you can just do this with a ballpoint pen i mean really it could be anything.But a very simple little scene like this, it still captures the moment and if you came home from a trip with nothing but little pictures like this, it would be fabulous. It would be a sketchbook that you would treasure.Even a little tiny pocket sketchbook could be filled with drawings like this done just with a ballpoint pen and it would say so much about where you were and what the feeling of it was.So, i am just going around now and kind of dropping in the details that i think i want to include, some very fine lines in the back there on the Woolworth building to sort of indicate the pattern of the windows and i will put a car or two in the foreground just to kind of anchor us in the foreground, like i say having some details and some darker, heavier lines or shadows in the foreground kind of anchors the viewer there and gives you an entry point into the drawing. So that is a good thing to do, but very quick and very simple and i am going to add in like a little awning and just some of the darker shadows up underneath these building overhangs. But that's it.That is three-minute sketch. 11. Final Thoughts: I hope you can see that even when you have an incredibly complicated scene like this, you can draw something that feels really accurate and really immediate. If you just take a minute to work out the perspective, even if very quick sketch that only takes a couple minutes can look lively and it's compelling and fresh if those pieces are in place. Post your drawings in the project area, if you have any questions or comments, please do put those in the discussion area. I will pop in and answer them, I would love to hear from you. I also teach a lot of other classes, check those out, come find me online, I'm on Instagram, I'm everywhere on social media, I have a website, I send out a newsletter, I would love to stay in touch with you. Thanks so much and keep drawing.