Urban Sketching: How to Draw a Street with Gouache and Colored Pencils | Julia Henze | Skillshare

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Urban Sketching: How to Draw a Street with Gouache and Colored Pencils

teacher avatar Julia Henze, Artist | Teacher | Urban Sketching Lover

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Tools & Materials


    • 3.

      Don't Forget a Thumbnail!


    • 4.

      STEP 1 | Make a Pencil Sketch


    • 5.

      STEP 2 | Paint with Gouache (Part 1)


    • 6.

      STEP 2 | Paint with Gouache (Part 2)


    • 7.

      STEP 3 | Add Details with Colored Pencils


    • 8.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

In this class, I will take you through the step-by-step process of drawing a colorful street. We will create a bright sketch using a combination of gouache and colored pencils. 

* Reference photo: Kai Bossom (Unsplash)

This class might be a bit difficult for beginners. You need at least some sketching experience to enjoy this class. If you've never used gouache before, I recommend starting with my other class: "Let's Draw Some Homes." You will learn how to use gouache, make brush strokes, mix different colors, and apply colored pencils to create engaging and colorful drawings.

In this class, you will learn:

  • What are the best materials to use;
  • How to mix gouache colors;
  • How to create a thumbnail sketch;
  • How to use guidelines to draw a complex perspective
  • How to use colored pencils to add details. 

It is a step-by-step tutorial, so I hope you will find it easy to follow. If you need any help with your sketches or have questions, suggestions or feedback, please don't hesitate to ask me on the Community page. 

♥ Looking forward to seeing your beautiful sketches in the Project Gallery! ♥

Enjoy and have fun!

P.S. For INSTAGRAM: tag me @julia_henze and use a hashtag #juliahenze_skillshare


Other useful resources for GOUACHE

Gouache is a fantastic medium, definitely worth exploring. That's why I have created a lot of resources to help my students master gouache painting and enjoy it! 

Articles on my blog:

Gouache Colors For Beginners

Beginner's Guide To Gouache

Caran D’Ache Luminance 6901: My Favorite Colors for Sketching


FREE tutorial: Red Boat with gouache and colored pencils.

Subscribe to my newsletter to get this 10-page workbook


My Skillshare classes: 

"Draw with Me: Expressive Sketching with Gouache and Colored Pencils"learn the gouache technique I use for most of my urban sketches to make them look impressive, whimsical, and dynamic.

Working with Gouache & Colored Pencils: Let's Draw Some Homes!: a perfect place to start with gouache! You will learn how to use gouache, make brush strokes, mix different colors, and apply colored pencils to create more engaging and beautiful drawings.

Urban Sketching with Gouache | Turquoise House by the Pool: create a beautiful summer sketch and practice your gouache technique. Let the beauty of turquoise carry you away! 

Art supplies that will enhance your sketching experience: 

♥ Mijello 18 well folding plastic palette Amazon | Jackson’s Art

♥ Winsor & Newton Gouache Set Amazon | Jackson’s Art

♥ Kneaded Eraser Jackson’s Art

♥ Luminance 6901 pencils Jackson’s Art


More about the supplies I use: 

My Favorite Urban Sketching Supplies: Gouache Kit

How to Store Gouache on a Palette: a Genius Solution

Meet Your Teacher

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Julia Henze

Artist | Teacher | Urban Sketching Lover

Top Teacher

Hello, creatives! My name is Julia Henze. I'm a freelance illustrator and urban sketcher living and working in a village with a name that nobody can pronounce, Bergschenhoek, in The Netherlands.

I love to share my passion for drawing and urban sketching with you, and show you how to make the drawing process easier and more fun. All my Skillshare classes are very easy to follow and perfect for beginning artists. But also advanced students can find interesting tips and tricks.

Visit my Instagram for inspiration and drawing tutorials. Tag me (@julia_henze) when you post a sketch made with one of my classes and use a hashtag #JuliaHenze_Skillshare. I'll be very happy to see your artworks!

And find speed-drawing demonstration videos on my YouTube channe... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Intro: [MUSIC] Hi everyone and welcome to today's class. I'm Julia Henze, a professional artist and urban sketcher based in Netherlands. I am a top teacher on Skillshare, but I also run my own project. I create tutorials and courses and write articles or blogs on different aspects of sketching. My mission is to help beginning artists learn the skills and mindset to become creative and find confidence and inspiration. Do not forget to check out my website and subscribe to my newsletter to get your weekly boost of creativity right in your mailbox. Go to juliahenze.com or write slash subscription to sign up for my newsletter. In this class, I will take you through a step-by-step process of drawing this lovely street with gouache and colored pencils. First, recall the tools and materials you will need. A few gouache colors, some colored pencils to be lead pencil, and some paper, nothing extraordinary. Then we will experiment with mixing colors, with beautiful color combinations and create and thumbnail of your sketch. If you are not sure why you need the thumbnail, this class is for you. After that, we will create a pencil sketch. The perspective in this sketch is a bit complicated as the street is curved and goes down a bit, I will show you my technique for creating a sense of perspective in such a complex scene when the sketch is complete, we will paint it using the colors we've mixed. Finally, when the gouache dries, we will add some more details using colored pencils. This class might be a bit complicated for beginners, but I have two more classes I recommend for those who are just starting out with gouache. First, you can do a class called, Let us draw some homes. For this class, you don't need any drawing experience or any experience with gouache and colored pencils. This is a perfect place to start. You will learn how to use gouache, make brush strokes, mix different colors, and apply colored pencils to create more engaging and beautiful drawings. Another class you can do is draw with me expressive sketching with gouache and colored pencils, which focuses on the gouache technique I use for most of my urban sketches to make them look impressive, whimsical, and dynamic. Whatever class you choose, make sure you do not hurry, allow yourself to make mistakes, to try, fail, and try again, take your time and enjoy the creative process. Please feel free to share your artwork in the project gallery. I look forward to seeing all your beautiful artwork. Are you ready? Let us get started then. [MUSIC] 2. Tools & Materials: In this part, I will show you what materials I'm going to use for this class, but feel free to use something different, something that you have at home and what you're used to. First, we will need a sketchbook or a block of paper. I will use this Winsor & Newton watercolor paper block for practicing and making a thumbnail. It is a file format. For my actual sketch, I will use a larger sheet of the same paper, a bit bigger than A4. It's cellulose cold press paper, which is great for gouache sketches. You can use mixed media, watercolor, or any other type of paper. Gouache is great on pretty much any paper as long as it's not the thin. The thickness is essential for avoiding buckling. The best paper for gouache needs a thickness of at least 200 grams per square meter. Second, we will need some gouache. I will use Winsor & Newton designers gouache. I prefer to put it on my palette because it's easier for me to mix colors. Keeping gouache in this palette means it's always ready to use. Just make sure that the paint dries a bit before it clumps in the palette and putting it in your bag. If it's too bad, your gouache can make a mess just like the one I've got here. I closed my palette too soon and the colors ran. Fortunately, this mid yellow palette is tight and leak-proof, so my bag didn't get damaged. Here are the colors I'm going to use in this class, but feel free to use your favorites. Next, we will need three paint brushes. I recommend synthetic watercolor or acrylic brushes for gouache. There are slightly stiffer than soft nature hair of watercolor brushes that tend to be too flexible and hold too much water. Also, synthetic brushes give you much more control or less expensive, it work great, and are better for animal welfare and the environment. My largest brush is an Escoda ultimate travel brush, size 12 for large areas. The second, a smaller one for most paint work is also travel brush. I draw a lot on location so it's convenient. This is an Escoda Perla size 8. The last one is a Winsor & Newton's Cotman series round brush size 3 for small areas and details. Next, we will need a gold pencil for the thumbnail and the preliminary sketch. I prefer a 2B pencil, which is quite soft and easy to remove. Especially with this soft kneaded eraser that doesn't damage paper as some regular erasers do. Then we need a bunch of colored pencils of different colors. I use a lot of different brands, but luminance series from Caran d'Ache, derwent lightfast are definitely my favorites. They are bright and soft and work best on top of gouache. Here are the colors I'm going to use for this class. But again, feel free to use the brands and colors you like. What you need is some different colors that match your gouache paints, but are not exactly the same. They should be lighter or darker than the paints. Otherwise, we won't be able to distinguish them from the gouache color and it will be difficult to create beautiful textures. A few other things. We will need masking tape, a paper towel, a jar of water, and a spray bottle. This one is essential if you keep your paints on the palette as I do, to reactivate the color and make the gouache soft and easy to use when it gets dry. That's it for materials. Let's start drawing. 3. Don't Forget a Thumbnail!: If you have voiced a nucleon latest classes, you know that I'm a big fan of making thumbnails and I think you should also be coloring one, whether you are a beginner or more advanced artist, at Thumbnail we'll help you prepare yourself for drawing. Loosen your hand, focus on the subject you're going to draw and choose a good composition and the best color combinations. Some students asked me at a recent workshop, if I always make a thumbnail myself, and the answer is, it depends, what I draw with an urban sketching group, I skip the thumbnail. I'm not worried about the result because for me it's time to relax, chat with other sketchers and enjoy the process. I just sit down and start to draw and chat. Sometimes we chat a bit too much actually, and then I automatically use familiar color combinations which I know always worked for me. In all the other situations, when I do care about the result, I make at least one thumbnail, and when it's a commission or job or something else really important, I make a few thumbnails. This is something that many beginning artist don't know about professionals, we'll always do a lot of preparation. It might look like we just sit down and create a masterpiece, but it's not true. A good composition or a beautiful color combination is not a heavy coincidence, so if you want to make progress and clear about how your sketch will turnout, don't skip this stage. Make a thumbnail. Let's start. First, I draw a frame that represents the format of a drawing paper. In this class, we're not going to talk about composition, it's a big topic we will cover in one of the later classes. For now, we'll just follow the composition of the reference. Someone has already done the composition of work cross in the thumbnail, as in the actual artwork, we'll always start by drawing the larger shapes, trying to fit our scene into the page space. But unlike drawing the actual sketch we don't need to draw any details this time only the largest, the most important ones. What is important here, the objects we need to choose a color for. I look the reference and ask myself, what color do I want to use for the houses, the roofs, the road, the windows, the sky, hence zone. Then I grab some colors, that thing will work for the scene. Just put them on the paper and look at how they look together. Also try to mix it. When I think that I have great combinations, it happened very quickly now because I know these colors very well, but when I want to try something new, it might actually take some time before I'm satisfied. If you're not happy with the colors yet, pause the video and keep trying different colors and combinations. When I have colors I like, I apply them to my thumbnail very loosely, using quite a lot of water. Of course, you can skip the previous step and experiment with the colors right on the thumbnail. But if you're not that familiar with the colors in the reference, there is a big chance the colors won't work together and you will need to draw another thumbnail. This might also be good practice, but let's keep it quick and easy for now. I also choose the best colors for the pencils at this stage. Make some practice drawings and draw details at a larger size, if I think it might help me draw the actual sketch. I think we have enough information here. Our hands are loosened up and we're ready to start doing our work. 4. STEP 1 | Make a Pencil Sketch: Looking in the picture, you can see the perspective. You might be wondering if it is a one or two-point perspective. But for this class, it's not important at all so don't worry about it. The perspective here is complicated. There is a curve in the street and the street goes down a little. It doesn't make any sense to try and use the rules of perspective. Still, we need a tool or a technique to help us draw such a complicated scene and create a sense of perspective in it. Otherwise, our sketch will turn out messy and unclear. Here's a technique that will work best for this sketch. We will compare every line, or at least the most important lines to the lines that are parallel and perpendicular to the edges of the paper. I promise it is much easier than it sounds, but it requires all your attention. Let me show you what I mean. I start here with the most prominent perspective lines, the top of the one roof. I draw a horizontal guideline starting at the highest corner, look very carefully at the line of the rooftop in my reference and ask myself, how does this line go compared to the guideline? What is the annual year or what is the shape of a triangle? If it's easier for you to determine. Then, I tried to reproduce it on paper, but with a little curve to make it look a bit more interesting, then we have this perpendicular line, no perspective here, so nothing special. Another perspective line, again, I compare it to the horizontal guideline. The angle is now a bit wider than the previous one and just straight. Here is another perpendicular line and a perspective line again, this one is almost parallel to the horizon and here it's important to pay attention to draw the line in the right direction. A very common mistake among beginning artists is that their line goes up instead of down. In the reality, it's not even possible. This is how it works. If you look down at the cube, which this part of the building actually is, we will always see the top. Do we see the top here? I don't think so. Because when we look up at the cube, we can never see the top of it so it will be at an acute angle. Sometimes it's not easy to see with your eye, which makes it so complicated. But just remember one thing. When a corner of a cube shape is higher than your eye level, it always forms an acute angle on the visible sides. Always. Now, let's draw a vertical guideline. It works exactly the same way. I place it here in the corner between two roofs. Look at the right roof line first, determine the color and reproduce it on my paper. Then look at the left roof line and do the same. Determine and reproduce. We continue drawing the whole scene. I think the street band is quite tricky here. Let's do it together too. Further, you can do it on your own. I draw a horizontal and a perpendicular guideline, analyze how the curve of the road goes and put it on my paper. I sometimes exaggerate curves to make my sketches look more dynamic, so I draw the line a bit higher than the guideline. You can draw it as it is in the reference so it will be easier for you to understand how it works. Then pay extra attention to the shape of the triangle created by the guidelines and the road curve. It's much flatter than mine and exaggerate later. Or just draw what I draw. The other line is pretty much identical to the vertical guideline so it's easy to draw. Now, we can go on and finish the pencil sketch. I know it takes quite some time to compare all the lines to the guidelines. But don't be lazy and do it at least for the most important, nice neat sketch, is not a problem at all if some of the lines are a bit off. But when nothing is gauges in the right direction, it looks pretty wonky. When we've got all the main lines, we can start drawing details. Windows, doors, chimneys, and all the other things we want to show in our sketch. Now, we have a pencil sketch down. Let's move to painting. 5. STEP 2 | Paint with Gouache (Part 1): First, let's get our paints ready, moisten them if you have them on the palette or squeeze some fresh colors from the tubes. In this class, I don't use any special mixes as I did in the class with the turquoise house, but I still mix colors with each other sometimes, just to make my picture a little bit more interesting with all this fantastic color transitions and sometimes because I want to create my own unique colors. I make my brush red, not only at the tip but the whole hair part. Take some transparent orange, put it in the palette, add some burnt sienna, and start to paint. The paint flows very easily because I use a lot of water and applied with the watercolor technique. I explained in my other gouache class, working with gouache and colored pencils, let's draw some homes. Then I add a bit red to create beautiful, subtle gradient on the roof. For the wall, I use the same mix, but this time with window red as the main ingredient and a drop of a bingol rose for the more interesting color. Add more bingol rose for the small house beside. Look, the colors flow so beautifully into each other. Now, I rinse my brush thoroughly because I'm going to use cool colors. I guess, I must create some clean space on the third when you mix this. However, I have already mixed the color for shadows when I painted my thumbnail. Now I can use it again. It's a mixture of black, carbon blue, and zinc white. The front of this house is on the shadow side, so I painted gray entirely. Then I add some burnt sienna to the same mixture and paint the ground. The color is a bit too warm. Shadows are usually cold, so I need to add more blue, and even more black and blue for the middle part of the road. The road will belied closer to the foreground, so we create the sense of depth. I just grab a towel paper and remove the paint here and then spread it a little bit with the brush. The light part of the street is light in their appearance, so I add water to my mixture to make it more transparent and light. If you prefer to paint with thicker gouache, you can add white instead of water. We'll take another lighter color like Naples yellow or yellow ocher, if you have this colors, of course. Now I take a smaller brush, it's also stiffer one, it holds more color and less water so that the colors appear even brighter. Mix some burnt sienna with a drop of Linden green and apply it to the right side of the roof. Then make the mixture darker with purple and apply to the other side and to the shadowed side of the sidewalk. Add some more purple and black and draw a line to define the sidewalk on the other side of the street. The paint gets slightly lighter in some places, so it looks beautiful. Now I clean my brush again and paint the roof of the right with the same mixture I used for the other roof. Make it lighter on the other side, but not too much. There are some dark doors and windows in the picture. It's difficult to see what the exact color it is, but I think dark green will work very well for my sketch. I mix ultramarine blue with yellow, more blue than yellow because we need dark green and draw the frame of the window and the door besides. Add more ultramarine blue for even more darkness. It became blue-gray with a touch of green now and paint the frames on the other side. The previous layer is still a bit wet, so the paint runs out and we get this beautiful clouds, darker fluffy and the lines on the drier part look a bit torn. It makes our sketch more playful, you can do it here and there, but not too much of course. The door in the distance has pretty much the same color, but on the dry surface it appears slightly darker. For the chimney, I use the orange mixture, and make some green to make it dark at the bottom because this is just what we see in the picture. The roof in front of the chimney has light gray color, so I mix cobalt blue with zinc white and paint the shape of the roof, and then the red wall underneath. I don't want all the doors to be the same color because it looks boring. So I'll make a dark gray mixture almost black and paint the doors and other dark details I see in the picture. 6. STEP 2 | Paint with Gouache (Part 2): Make the shadow side of the sidewalk any darker on both sides. I use the same mixture but diluted with water for the windows on the right. The curtains are probably white, but they appear grayish because they get some shadow from the window frame. Here it's difficult to see which part of the window is glass and which part is framed, so I painted all the ones with the same dark green mixture we used for the door and the window frame. I deleted at the bottom because the stones are light gray there. Then I paint the shadows with a lighter and darker mixture. There is always a pretty large shadow under the roof when it hangs over the house like here. I had some burnt sienna for painting the bottom of the roof and the shadow on the left. I grab the dark gray again and paint another shadow and the windows. I lay my brush flat to make the color less intense. I paint the window here with a diluted blue mixture. The windows are not blue but if we use the same dirty gray, yellowish color we see in the picture, our sketch will look boring. Blue is not the most cheerful color but it's complimentary to orange and together they make a lovely impression on the eye. More shadows here, very light ones. Once red mixture you already have, goes for the chimney. I use my smallest brush for the small details and thin lines here and there with dark gray color. I change my water very quickly and keep adding shadows with my smallest brush. Notice that my shadow colors are pretty dark, much darker than the light side, but also not black, which is a quite common beginner's mistake. A mixture of Bengal rose and burnt sienna is perfect here. But I add some ultramarine blue to make it dark under the roof and all the other objects that stick out. The roof on the left, hangs quite far over the house, so the shadow will be large here. I soften the hard edge here with my largest brush, only wet it with water without any pigment. For the sky, I'll rinse my brush thoroughly and make the area wet. The wet area should be bigger than I need for the color. Then I take my favorite cobalt turquoise slide and roughly paint the sky. More water and less pigment on the left for the beautiful transition. Then grab one of my blues apply it to the paper. Then paint here much thicker. Yes, I know this guy is not blue there, but it's so good to make things brighter and more cheerful than there are in reality. I try to paint carefully around the chimney and spread the color a bit more on the right side. I don't really like the boring green road, so I make a more bluish mix of blue, black, and white, less black, and this time bluer. That's much better. Then like some more texture here in the foreground, so I lay my brush flat and with a quick movement from left to right, create this beautiful effect. The dry the brush gets, the more texture. The same for the sidewalk, but a little bit light on the right and darker on the left. It adds some dynamic and looseness to the sketch. Now I want to make the color for the tiles on the ground and makes the orange on the pellet with my green blue mixture. Try it on the draft paper and paint the line with my smallest brush. The tiles will appear bigger in the foreground. Now I add more ultramarine and green mixture and paint the window frame here. Turquoise for the windows always makes the sketch livelier. I paint with short strokes and make them slightly different so that they don't look like a fence. Yellow lines on the road is an important detail here. Nothing special here. I just take my yellow and paint them with the same curve as the sidewalk. That's some orange here and there to make the lines a bit more interesting. Now with our painting, however, don't put your gouache away too soon because we might need it later. 7. STEP 3 | Add Details with Colored Pencils: As one of my favorite urban sketching teachers once said, "This is the stage where you must let your heart speak." We already have the most important objects in the place but this scene doesn't look impressive without some details. Details bring it to life, draw the viewer's attention, and catch their eye. Play around with colors and textures. Draw details that capture your attention. Details that you find important enough to draw, tell your story. I take my light green color and start adding textures to the orange roof. It looks like all the houses in the picture have some green and brown moss in the roofs. It's a very lovely, authentic detail. I use different stronger color for the brown parts. It's a bright and beautiful color that makes my sketch look livelier. Add some orange. You can see that it doesn't really make sense to use a color that is dissimilar to the grayish color. Strawberry works much better here. I vary the pressure and keep switching between the colors. Add some darker textures here and there with very short lines. I only suggest a mos pattern on the roof. Don't try to reproduce it exactly. I just want to convey my impression of this scene fast and lively. Here, I add some shadows to the chimney under the edge and on the right side of the pipes. The shadow on the white building appears gray in the reference, but I think cobalt blue will make my sketch more cheerful. I see some bricks here. It's an interesting detail I want to show a viewer. Now, I grab my gray and draw the bay window. The light turquoise on the glass part makes it look more vivid and corresponds with the turquoise in other windows and the sky. Some blue on the shadow side. Here I do actually the same thing but in a different order. I start recoloring the window glass and only then draw the contour lines. I wanted to have more than one technique so you can vary them in your sketches. The sign boards are also quite an important detail in this picture, I have already drawn one of them in my thumbnail, so I look at my thumbnail and try to repeat it in the actual sketch. Another blue shadow here. Then orange and maybe also brown contour on the roof. Then the tiles here with blue. Here, I use colors that are quite similar to the ones in the reference but brighter and more vivid. Make shadows dark and colder and define the contours of the roof, houses, and the details. The lamp on the row here is an authentic detail, we need to draw to create an atmosphere of an English street. We keep looking at the reference carefully. Notice the most important shadows. They are quite clear here and details and put them in our picture. Vary the colors. Blue is always great for shadows and all the colors you like or see in the picture for details and textures. Add some tiles to the roof, bricks through the walls, and so forth. Here are no rules. Only your attention, imagination, and spontaneity. Our sketch is finished. As you can see, I added a lot of textures that don't even exist in the reference and at the same time ignored some details that I didn't find important enough to draw. If you like details, you can keep adding some more, but don't get carried away because the sketch overloaded with details is not that engaging. We need to find the sweet spot, the perfect moment to stop. 8. Final Thoughts : That's it. Thank you guys so much for joining me in this class. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I also hope I have inspired you to do more gouache painting. It's such a vibrant, flexible, and forgiving medium. When you have completed the class, please leave a review to let me know what you thought of it. I will really appreciate that. Also, I will be delighted to see what you have created. Please share your artwork in the project gallery and let me know if you want to get more profound feedback. I'm always happy to help you grow as an artist. Also, please take a moment to check out other students' projects and write a few nice words in the comment section. It is truly inspiring and motivating to get encouragement from a fellow artists. If you share your artwork on Instagram, don't forget to use the hashtag, Juliahenze_skillshare. I'll be happy to feature you in my stories. Also, if you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions, please leave a comment in the discussion section under the video. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks again. Have fun and keep practicing and making art. See you in many other classes. Bye bye.